Volkswagen Group’s Uruguayan Importer Improves Efficiency Through RFID

For the past four years, Julio Cesar Lestido S.A., the official Uruguayan importer of cars and trucks manufactured by the Volkswagen Group, has been employing passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to track the metal tools it uses to maintain vehicles.

The company, which provides maintenance and repairs services for Volkswagen, Audi and Man cars and trucks in Uruguay, has been using an RFID solution supplied by Identis RFID Systems to identify which tools are removed from a storage area at its Montevideo maintenance facility, and by whom. Staff members had been borrowing tools—such as wrenches and drills—from a storage area, but the company had no visibility regarding which individual was taking which tools.

Prior to its current RFID deployment, Julio Cesar Lestido had tried other RFID solutions using passive tags affixed to the tools, but had been disappointed with the resulting performance. Because the tools are exposed to high temperatures and physical impact, a tag needed to be installed inside each tool, but the tags failed to operate well when embedded in metal. In addition, the company did not want a system in which reader antennas would be visible at its facility.

The RFID company tested multiple passive UHF RFID tags before opting for a customized version of Convergence Systems Ltd.‘s Omni-ID Prox CS7310 tag. The standard version of the CS7310 tag measures 1.3 inches by 0.4 inch by 0.16 inch (3.3 centimeters by 1 centimeter by 0.4 centimeter), but the customized version is smaller, at only 2 centimeters (0.8 inch) in length and 0.8 centimeter (0.31 inch) in width. Identis then had to drill holes in the grips or metal bodies of the tools—such as wrenches and screwdrivers—and insert the customized tags inside, in such a way that they would not be visible to the tool users, or be prone to damage. Each tag was encoded with a unique ID number linked to data about the corresponding tool.

CSL’s CS-461 reader and antennas were installed behind the walls of the corridor adjoining the storage room’s entrance, so that the hardware would not be visible to personnel. It also provided staff members with badges containing built-in CSL Omni-ID Prox tags. When an individual approaches the tool area, the reader captures that person’s badge tag ID and unlocks a door, thereby enabling him to enter. When the employee leaves the room, the interrogator again captures the badge’s ID, as well as that of each tool he is carrying, thereby creating a record that management can access at any time.

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