Gulf States Toyota, a regional Toyota distributor for 145 dealers, has selected IBM and WhereNet Corp., both leaders in wireless solutions for tracking and managing enterprise assets, to provide an active RFID tracking system for processing more than 190,000 cars annually. Gulf States Toyota made the investment in the system to better serve its dealers, which in turn, offers better service to customers.
Gulf States Toyota has deployed the industry-first, active RFID-powered WhereNet vehicle tracking and management system (VTMS) to locate new Toyotas at its 84-acre processing center in Houston. Where staff would “walk the lot” to identify cars for particular dealers in the past, this advanced system uses WhereNet’s real-time locating system (RTLS) technology in tandem with IBM’s business process and integration services to further automate business processes and expedite delivery of vehicles to dealerships across a five-state region – reducing processing and labor costs, while achieving better quality and customer service.
The IBM and WhereNet solution enables Gulf States Toyota to track and manage the processing of every new vehicle, as well as to conduct flow analysis for continuous improvement and optimized throughput and quality.
“Continuous improvement is the Toyota way. So we are pleased to have the IBM/WhereNet vehicle tracking and management system which will help us serve the dealers in our region more efficiently,” said Gary Cole, senior manager, planning and logistics for Gulf States Toyota.
When new vehicles arrive via rail car at the Gulf States Toyota vehicle processing center, each vehicle is assigned an active RFID WhereTag transmitter that is “married” to the vehicle identification number. The WhereTag remains on the vehicle until it has been customized according to the buyer’s specifications and is ready to ship to one of the 145 dealerships serviced by Gulf States Toyota.
IBM led the overall solution development and project management. This included meshing business process consulting and back-end integration with WhereNet’s RTLS architecture, including 40 WhereLAN locating access points and 74 WherePort devices. These devices trigger the car’s WhereTag to emit a signal that automatically records such information as arrival, dwell, and departure time of the vehicle without any human intervention.
Furthermore, by incorporating business rules and system alerts based on customer order status and dwell time, a logical hierarchy of rules manages the processing of every vehicle in accordance with its assigned status so that critical orders are processed before lower-priority units. Users cannot deviate from the proper sequence without overriding the system and generating an exception report.
By using the IBM-led system, Gulf States Toyota expects to realize a complete return on investment in less than one year through numerous benefits, including:
- Reduced labor cost for vehicle processing as the WhereNet system automates and directs much of the work flow.
- Reduced on-site dwell time enables better yard throughput and responsiveness to dealer and customer demand.
- Higher quality vehicles as the system helps ensure that no process steps are missed and that every vehicle departs in accordance with dealer/customer specifications. In addition, since the vehicles are processed in the most efficient manner as a result of intelligent move requests driven by the IBM and WhereNet system, they are moved less frequently and therefore less likely to incur “dings” and damage during processing procedures.
Also , WhereNet announced its partnership with IBM Global Services. By partnering with WhereNet, IBM Global Services expands its suite of RFID tagging solutions to support supply chain management, asset management, and work in process manufacturing, while WhereNet will leverage the strength of the IBM alliance to drive additional deployments in the aerospace and automotive industries.
“We have partnered with IBM on several projects in recent years and are pleased to formally announce our partnership,” said Matt Armanino, senior vice president of corporate development for WhereNet. “IBM Global Services brings tremendous credibility and clout as we continue to add more Fortune 500 customers. This partnership will help fuel expansion of our growing customer ecosystem in the automotive industry and help us accelerate our growth in emerging markets like the aerospace industry.”