An advanced vehicle tracking system that can pinpoint new-vehicle service problems at assembly plants and potentially at dealerships has been installed at the BMW 5-series plant in Dingolfing, Germany.
Introduced by WhereNet U.S.A., in a partnership with Siemens Automation, the wireless system can now troubleshoot any vehicle coming off an assembly line or parked in an inventory yard through a network of interior or outside antennas.
“The system is absolutely wireless and removes the possibility of human error in finding or remedying defective or pre-defective parts and components,” says Gary Latham, WhereNet's director of industry marketing.
He speaks of expanding the system to dealership inventories. Several dealer groups have been approached about that.
“This takes preventive maintenance, using diagnostic scanners, to a new and failsafe level,” says Latham at WhereNet's headquarters in Santa Clara, CA. “If a window-wiper motor or a brake fluid container has the potential of failing, WhereNet is capable of detecting the potential problem, even before the vehicle has been driven. Just think what that can accomplish for dealer-owner relations, when breakdowns can be prevented.”
WhereNet piloted the system for Ford at its Michigan Truck plant in Romulus, MI.
Latham says it's less expensive than conventional hard-wired systems and allows for lower levels of inventory, says Latham.
“WhereNet has installed applications of the wireless tracking system at more than 70 facilities, including those of Toyota Land Rover, Jaguar and at GM,” he says. “This is an extension of the just-in-time production system pioneered by Toyota,” says Latham.
Corporate and government fleets are interested because of the efficiencies they would derive from being able to spot problems before they occur and save both breakdown time and the $60-$80 cost of every diagnostic service scan.”