The first indication that the value of RFID (radio frequency identification) will extend beyond the supply warehouse was shown this week by WhereNet, a provider of wireless location and communications technology.
WhereSoft Vehicle -- a VTMS (vehicle tracking and management system) -- will marry RFID and business rules to automate workflow in an effort to reduce the cost of recalls and recovery, as well as those attributed to redesigns forced by legislative initiatives.
Targeted initially at vehicle processing centers and rental car companies, WhereSoft Vehicle adds context to RFID tracking.
"The context (aspect relies on) business process and business rules that help a company ignore things that are happening the way they are supposed to and alert a manager to an exception that needs to be taken care of," said Bill McBeath, chief research officer at ChainLink Research.
Together, context and tracking can reduce manufacturing costs by as much as 22 percent, according to Kevin Mixer, research director of automotive and heavy-equipment industries at AMR Research.
For example, cars assembled with parts found to be defective must be stopped before they ship. Until now, containing the fallout of such a discovery was time-consuming and costly, forcing the closure of the auto yard, the search for affected vehicles, and the return of vehicles that had already shipped.
Mixer believes the technology behind WhereNet's VTMS will prove useful beyond the auto industry, especially in sectors marked by high-volume products with highly complex components.
"VTMS is an opportunity to improve asset utilization, but also reduce issues of quality and reduce warranty and scrap inventory," Mixer said.
Ephraim Schwartz is an editor at large at InfoWorld.