Dealer efficiency through RFID tagging

July 2013 Asset Management, EAS, RFID

Panasonic Business Systems PE and Powell Tronics have implemented an asset management system that makes use of RFID tags for Tavcor Volkswagen, a motor vehicle dealership based in Port Elizabeth.

Martin Taverner from Tavcor says the focus of the after sales division is on customer satisfaction via efficient service of vehicles and supply of genuine parts. “We recently expanded our premises and found the need to be able to locate and monitor the locations of vehicles that came in for service to ensure they were processed quickly and efficiently, and of course, to ensure we lost nothing to theft.”

Of the problems experienced before the installation, Taverner says it was taking service advisers too long to trace vehicles because of the size of the building and the number of vehicles on premises at any one time. The solution would also be used to track the vehicles’ keys.

“The system installed would provide the dealership with the ability to track the service or repair progress of a vehicle on premises, as well as locate, track and audit Tavcor Assets,” explains Taverner. “We did not have an asset location system in place before and were doing the tracking manually. The benefits of being able to locate vehicles and keys in real-time are extensive.”

Finding a solution

Considering the solutions on offer, Tavcor engaged with Panasonic as an installer and Powell Tronics as the solution provider, to customise an asset management system with a vehicle progress tracking module. Powell Tronics was tasked with the customisation and development of an add-on module and was able to deliver within the specific deadlines.

The solution proposed included a vehicle tracking system, a key tracking system, a job progress ‘live updates’ and reporting system, and an asset tracking and auditing system. It would provide the dealership with live updates on the location of all vehicles and keys on premises every 1,2 seconds and enable service advisers to locate vehicles and accurately estimate completion time for customers. It would also allow the vehicles to be parked, ready for collection and the keys to be located quickly.

Solution implementation

To start the installation process, wireless zones were created throughout the service-related areas. Now, when a vehicle arrives, service advisers tag it and its keys and link the two in the asset management software provided by Powell Tronics. From there it tracks the location and progress of the vehicle throughout the day.

Moreover, it allows the dealer principal, service adviser, quality controller and service manager to track the progress of a vehicle, monitor for potential carry-over and problem vehicles. The service adviser will now be able to print out a movement and works report that is time stamped as an audit trail for each vehicle, and the administration department can track the location and movement and of any asset.

“With the solution in place, a service adviser loads the customer and vehicle details on the system and allocates an Active RFID tag to both vehicle and key. Once this is done the service adviser can view the location and time that a vehicle was in a specific place via the Web interface. This software allows any service adviser to log in via a unique user name and password and the vehicles allocated to a service adviser are displayed on a grid.

“Each area is listed in the grid and if a vehicle has a problem in a specific area, a user can add a note, such as ‘awaiting parts’. All vehicles’ booking history remains on the system and once booked in will be allocated an available RFID tag, as they are re-usable on a daily basis. Currently the site manages in excess of 60 vehicles per day.”

Taverner adds that since the company had no previous solution, “the benefits were tremendous to our business and has been a time saving exercise for the service advisers. In addition, it assists in keeping the history of the vehicles for audit purposes.”

Having implemented the solution and achieved all its requirements at the PE pilot site, Tavcor plans to roll-out the solution out to its branches nationally. “We also would like to add our ICT assets for inventory purposes in the future,” adds Taverner.

Project statistics

Asset management system

* 300 Active RFID tags

* 23 zone readers including antennas in seven areas

Key service providers

* System Integrator: Panasonic Business Systems PE, Anton Heritage, Tel: +27 (0)41 502 5517, e-mail: anton@panasonicpe.co.za

* Supplier and integration: Powell Tronics, Melissa Jacobs, Tel: +27 (0)21 448 0156, marketing@powelltronics.com


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