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Vehicle Tracking At Nissan

Nissan Ireland implement RF Tracking System
Wednesday, 17 October 2001

Known as 'The Compound', the 18 acre vehicle park at Nissan Ireland, just outside Dublin, handles around 50,000 cars annually from the company's factories in the UK, Spain and Japan. When manufactured, all vehicles are treated with a special protective wax prior to storage and shipping. When an order for a vehicle is received at Nissan Ireland from the dealer network, the coating is removed when it is made ready for pre-delivery inspection (PDI).

Keeping track of all these vehicles, with the dozens of different models, colours and customer options plus the necessary movements each one must make on-site could never be an easy task. However, thanks to vehicle identifying (VIN) bar code labels and Farnborough-based data capture specialists DATA Dialogue, what could be a confusing and time-consuming scenario has become relatively straightforward, extremely accurate, on-time and incredibly efficient in terms of man hours on stock checking and control.

DATA Dialogue using their particular data capture expertise, set up a data collection system where handheld bar code terminals with radio links to Nissan's central computer make an instant report on the current status of each and every vehicle on site. This provides rapid and exact stock control, timely workshop instructions and appropriate dealer shipping information. Every vehicle is scanned as it comes off the transporter, creating a computer record that will determine each vehicle's movements over the average two-week stay in 'The Compound'.

The vehicle is scanned as it enters de-wax, and as it enters and leaves PDI. This ensures that from receipt of an order Nissan Ireland know the exact location of the vehicle during its preparation for delivery. Vehicle scanning takes place as and when required, and of necessity, in all weathers. In order for operator morale to remain high at all times, the natural frustrations which could quickly build up from taking frequent and inaccurate readings, for example during wet and windy weather, must be eliminated wherever possible. Scans must be accurate and right first time.

However, with a project of this nature and scale there will always be problems to be overcome. At Nissan Ireland, the identifying bar code labels are positioned on the inside of the vehicle windscreens. While this has the advantage of protecting the labels, it creates a problem with light refraction through the glass and reflection from its surface and at the initial on-site trials this rendered reliable readings very difficult to obtain.

Working closely with Nissan Ireland, DATA Dialogue used their expertise in scanning technology and their experience within the auto industry to determine the most reliable scanning engine. After trying alternative options Class 3 laser scanners were installed in upgraded Telxon scanner hardware to provide accurate readings from a 12" scanning distance from the vehicle windscreen.

The results have been entirely satisfactory, and as Pat Pierce, Director of Nissan Ireland's IT Operations commented: "Without Data Dialogue's considerable technical expertise and practical experience in these matters, it is doubtful whether the project would ever have passed off as smoothly as it did."