Still in its infancy, the Internet of Things is already taking us in unexpected directions and into brand-new territories. Commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, the IoT is a highly collaborative, internet-driven effort to increase networking connectivity and functionality between smart devices and modern appliances of all kinds.
RFID, which usually comes in the form of a miniscule chip that utilizes radio waves in the identification and tracking of specific people, objects, tools or vehicles, offers a number of benefits to the manufacturing industry in general. This technology is able to bolster supply chain and inventory management by using a digital database of raw materials, finished goods, and current production cycles. It’s also useful in enterprise resource planning and shipping logistics.
RFID and IoT Providing Double Benefits for Automotive Manufacturers
Automotive manufacturers who have already combined these two technologies are experiencing the benefits firsthand, while those who looking in from the outside are eager to begin their own implementation.
Fields Automotive Group is using RFID technology to identify repeat customers as they arrive for regular maintenance or special service. Through their current system, employees with Fields are able to greet individuals by their first name, view service histories and match drivers up with loaner vehicles on the lot. It provides a lot more value to the customer while simultaneously making the job easier on behalf of sales personnel and mechanics.
Manufacturers who include RFID chips in their vehicles can make it possible for every dealership across the nation to enjoy the levels of efficiency and service as Fields. In fact, automotive manufacturers can use RFID and the IoT to expand their operations like never before.
RFID and IoT in the Factory
The IoT is currently being utilized in manufacturing plants in an effort to streamline operations and strengthen efficiency. When combined with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, the results can be nothing short of impressive. As the U.S. market for RFID in the areas of automotive and aerospace manufacturing is well over $200 million, the demand is already there.
Driving Events, based out of Spain, specializes in automobile logistics. They’ve been using RFID and the IoT since 2015 to support their efforts in long-range vehicle transportation. Although their chips are technically installed after the vehicle leaves the factory, their collected data is highlighted in performance reports and presentations that are meant for public consumption. Moreover, the technology has proven incredibly useful when planning transportation routes, identifying traffic delays and even monitoring specific drivers.
When applied to the conveyor systems of automobile assembly plants, manufacturers can use RFID to keep the movement of pieces to a minimum to reduce damage and the risk of being misplaced. A system that’s also equipped with IoT functionality would be able to identify damaged or lost materials while monitoring every single movement of a particular piece, tool or component.
These technologies can also be implemented to track the status of works-in progress, manage shipping containers and improve worker safety on the factory floor. Manufacturers even use RFID and the IoT to achieve a higher level of traceability throughout the entire lifespan of the product. Automated services are able to do this completely on their own, thereby ensuring the submission of data and eliminating the need for human interaction at any part of the process.
Managers and supervisors don’t have to rely on complicated hardware or advanced computer software to monitor and disseminate these actions, either. Thanks to mobile RFID readers, which can be plugged into most modern smartphones, many of these features can be enjoyed without any significant capital investment.
The Future of RFID and the IoT
While RFID technology has seen numerous consumer applications over the years, next-gen pioneers in the IT industry are still exploring the potential of the IoT. The two can easily be used in tandem to enhance productivity and improve output within the factory, but these technologies can also be extended to cover the entire life of a vehicle, via long-term performance tracking and automated reporting.