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RFID and eLISA create Transparency in prototype construction at Volkswagen

Use Cases | By PR RFID & Wireless IoT Global | 24 February 2016
We systematically order prototype parts equipped with RFID, and actively demand tagging from our suppliers. We systematically order prototype parts equipped with RFID, and actively demand tagging from our suppliers. Photo: Volkswagen

Volkswagen promotes Industrie 4.0 technical development by rolling-out the Transparent Prototype project and starting a new data exchange platform

What’s Industrie 4.0? While economists and politicians are still intensely discussing its definition, integration and employment, Volkswagen create facts. For the technical development of Industrie 4.0, the data exchange portal eLISA is the basis for electronic component data exchange between suppliers and Volkswagen. Prototype parts are RFID-tagged by suppliers. The related logistics and component data is communicated to Volkswagen by eLISA and used, among other things, for the essential construction state documentation of test vehicles. The vision of Transparent Prototypes is becoming a reality.

Dr. Malte Schmidt and Dr. Lars Thoroe, Volkswagen, in interview with ‚RFID im Blick‘

A Clear view on technical development

The necessary data and process standards were created as part of a multi-year preparation phase that is still ongoing. At the same time, the RFID hardware currently in use has been certified. Since early 2015, the Transparent Prototype project has been rolled out extensively. Volkswagen systematically orders prototype parts equipped with RFID, and actively demands identification measures form its suppliers,“ says Dr. Schmidt. Currently, more than 150 suppliers are already involved in the system. „Our goal is 100 per cent coverage,“ explains Dr. Schmidt.

Goal: 300 „RFID suppliers“ in 2016

Suppliers currently involved in the Transparent Prototype project are mainly from Germany and Europe. But, the system is also being successfully applied overseas. „By the end of 2016, the number of RFID capable prototype suppliers should increase to about 300,“ says Dr. Schmidt. „This requires a high degree of consistency.“ The roll-out currently affects approximately 150 different prototype parts. Excluded are components that are currently not suitable for RFID tagging because of their design, the vehicledependent location of assembly or critical factors, such as high temperature. There are also many components, such as control devices that can be read via online diagnostics. For them, an RFID tag is not required in the current phase of the roll-out.

Dr. Malte SchmidtDr. Malte Schmidt “We systematically order prototype parts tagged with RFID, and actively demand tagging from our suppliers. The procedure has been perfected. Meanwhile, the suppliers form their own ideas for RFID use – which is a very positive effect.“

RFID support for suppliers

The roll-out of the Transparent Prototype project is accompanied by targeted RFID support, that helps suppliers employ RFID technology, to make it easier for them to get started with this new technology,“ says Dr. Schmidt. „Numerous RFID workshops and regularly conducted supplier days give suppliers an idea of the potential of RFID deployment. The suppliers are qualified for the Transparent Prototype project and quickly develop their own ideas about how RFID can be used profitably - a positive effect.“

Hardware application on a modular basis

The roll-out was carried out with hardware tried-and-tested beforehand, which may vary from location to location. „We have no standard solution, but comply with the particular conditions and local factors. We fall back on approved hardware and software modules that we combine depending on the requirements,“ says Dr. Thoroe. „A total of about 20 RFID gates are currently used in the technical development division. The gates are used for vehicle and component detection as well as for other objects, such as reusable containers and packages,“ explains Dr. Thoroe, continuing: “We also use mobile handhelds. This is a useful addition and increases flexibility, especially in case test vehicles are located at test sites, which do not have stationary RFID infrastructure.“

Electronic data exchange is the key to Industrie 4.0

„The B2B platform eLISA (electronic delivery note application) went live just before the roll-out of the Transparent Prototype project, to create the conditions for smooth data exchange,“ says Dr. Thoroe: „Nearly 500 active suppliers are currently working with eLISA and transmit the required digital data with it, when we order prototype parts. These are significantly more suppliers than in the Transparent Prototype project, because we also handle other component volumes in addition to the RFID-tagged prototype parts.

Before eLISA, orders were communicated to suppliers in many different ways. eLISA standardised and channeled the communication and ensures optimised processes between suppliers and Volkswagen.“ The digital networking in this part of the value chain is an important step towards Industrie 4.0 for Dr. Thoroe. „Besides the RFID data exchange, we offer with eLISA additional functionalities such as creating standardised delivery notes. This was not possible before, especially not for smaller companies. The example shows that eLISA brings advantages for all stakeholders. This increases acceptance - the Transparent Prototype project together with eLISA makes sure that RFID-use is employed across enterprises.“

Last modified on Thursday, 12 May 2016 12:40