In manufacturing, time is of the essence. A few seconds shaved off a process can result in minutes and hours saved in the long run. This was at the top of our mind, as we looked at tracking system options for our new Troy Design & Manufacturing (TDM) Chicago Modification Center.
TDM is a Ford Motor Company metal stamping subsidiary. In May 2011, we were expanding into the vehicle conversion business at our Chicago Modification Center where we convert base-model Ford vehicles into police Interceptors. With more than 150 daily vehicle conversions, we knew that a manual, paper-based tracking system would not be efficient enough to handle our operations. And while bar coding and fixed terminal entry was a consideration, these methods alone would not provide the level of automation required to meet our production targets.
What we were looking for was a highly automated, computerized infrastructure to efficiently track, guide and report every step of our vehicle conversions. We needed something more “handsoff” to both reduce the amount of movement required by operators, and ensure that we were tracking and timing vehicles from the moment they entered their cells. That is why we decided to explore RFID.
Building an RFID Solution
To begin the process, we selected Lowry Solutions to help establish our RFID vision. To stay within our budget and aggressive timeframe of eight months, Lowry conducted vigorous prototyping and testing while maintaining a steady dialogue with us throughout the development phase, sharing interactive progression of prototype updates and making adjustments based on our feedback. This agile development process led to a Work in Process (WIP) software application that seamlessly integrated with 7iD middleware and Motorola Solutions FX9500 Fixed RFID Readers and AN2000 RFID Antennae.