IBM delivers on RFID focus with global study; solutions rollouts

IBM centered its RFID efforts in automotive and aerospace closely in 2007 on advancing three global customer cases selected from a list of more than a dozen scenarios involving users worldwide. The three areas deemed to have the greatest opportunity and value include reusable container management, yard management, and work-in-process (WIP) tracking.
By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor December 12, 2007

IBM centered its RFID efforts in automotive and aerospace closely in 2007 on advancing three global customer cases selected from a list of more than a dozen scenarios involving users worldwide. The three areas deemed to have the greatest opportunity and value include reusable container management, yard management, and work-in-process (WIP) tracking.
“We looked at the top 13 cases developed from client requirements in automotive and aerospace—including seven in the value chain and six in manufacturing—and selected these three as having the most benefit,” says Kurt Rindle, IBM global solutions executive for RFID. “There can be regional differences, as well as differing stages across industries. In the U.S., for example, there is interest among automotive OEMs to track units with regard to just-in-sequence delivery to the line, but in Europe and elsewhere, not so much. The chosen three were the most commonly requested globally.”
Container tracking management was ramped up first, covering the interests of a broad spectrum of Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. IBM looked at the work of various industry-standards bodies— AIGA in the U.S, JAPIA in Japan, and Odette in Europe—but piggybacked closely on top of the work of Germany-based Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDE), which published in early 2007 its specifications for reusable containers. Those specs were adopted by Odette and JAPIA.
“It’s important in automotive to have something based along the lines of a standard. The question is whether to use EPCglobal or ISO ,” says Rindle, adding that VDE abstracted from both. “The solution is based on requirements for automotive, but the descriptions for containers are valid for aerospace as well,” he says.
Pilots were done for all three scenarios, including Daimler Chrysler for reusable container management; Honda for WIP tracking in manufacturing motorcycles in Italy, and an American car manufacturer for yard management.
“We don’t see these ending in just pilots,” maintains Rindle. “The ones we’re working on now [represent] the first step of full rollouts. The companies want to move forward. We see a lot of traction in these areas, and we also see the same in aerospace and defense, though it starts from a higher level, with the industry wanting greater visibility in the supply chain. They’re more of the mind: This is what we want; we know you’ll make sure it works.”