WIREPAS CUSTOMER CHALLENGES
The needle in the haystack
When the design department of a car manufacturer needs to locate cars or component prototypes in a hurry, there’s no time to search its warehouses. Stuck with an end-of-life barcode-based inventory system, this was the problem facing one world-leading German automotive brand. As the proposed in-house solution proved not fit-for-purpose, the search was started for a more cost effective option.
High cost alternatives and blacklisted technology
By the time you need to pull a prototype from storage, there’s usually a team of designers or business partners eagerly waiting. Speed is important, and the company’s logistics team needed a solution to locate any single model out of thousands stored in a couple of warehouses or design floors covering 1.8 hectares on two sites. In a hurry.
They needed a fully automated inventory solution with localization functionality. To locate specific models and associate each one with tags, documentation, storage status and other data. Last but not least, the technology had to comply with the manufacturer’s very strict rules for frequency deployment and radio interference where introducing new technology on the 2,4 GHz spectrum is considered a big challenge.
Winning support from the frequency manager
Or rather, it was a big worry until the frequency manager of the company met with our CTO Ville for a briefing on Wirepas technology. The following tests in simulated environments resulted in the whitelisting of our 2.4 GHz technology with the manufacturer. Wirepas was passed with flying colors. And Ville’s Mom was once again very proud of him proving that the best IoT can stand even the highest industry standards.
After that, the solution itself was simple enough. Each stored prototype now carries an ELA Innovation RTLS tag autonomously connecting with battery operated anchor tags through to a gateway. The anchors form an efficient, robust mesh network where each anchor acts as a relay to the next – with battery life of more than five years. All on available frequencies, without influencing existing WiFi data traffic. Data is delivered via tags and gateways to the INTRANAV positioning engine, which calculates location and interfaces via the INTRANAV platform to the automaker’s own secure cloud environment.
Thanks to Wirepas connectivity, an entire warehouse full of anchors and tags now connects to the cloud via a single network gateway. All tags are powered with batteries that have a lifespan of up to seven years and communicate with gateways using commercial-off-the shelf (COTS) ultra-low-power 2.4 GHz hardware via the Wirepas Mesh protocol. It dynamically jumps channels and uses minimal transmission power in order to save energy and minimize interference with other devices.
Prior to having worked with Wirepas, we had not offered RTLS operating in the 2.4 GHz band to German industry players where the Frequency was underlying a strict usage policy. It was always too big a risk that Frequency Management intervened, and neither project leaders nor INTRANAV wanted to mess things up. With Wirepas we got the support we needed – and it was a pleasure to follow the discussions between the frequency managers and Ville. This really makes a big difference, having that strong IoT and Radio know-how backing you when a project becomes a challenge.
André Lujic, Director of Operations, INTRANAV
Quick deployment and easy search at super low cost
A team of only three (3) people installed the battery-powered infrastructure for this tracking system in two and a half days over 18,000 square meters at a cost ten times lower than the in-house quote. The system is entirely scalable and meets the strict WiFi restrictions of this automaker’s frequency-management department.
Now thousands of automotive prototypes can be accessed, tracked and organized using a web-based dashboard tool. Users access the IoT system with Single Sign-on (SSO) to search for items. Information like metadata, notices and markings can be added, as well as file attachments for each piece of inventory. Floor plan maps show the location of items to within a one-to-three meter radius.
The team of 15 people at the logistics department now happily offers any requested parts in time, even ad hoc requests. Also, more than 700 users can make individually searches and see where their designs are stored.
Significantly lower cost
Quick and easy deployment
Fully scalable and limitless
Safe and speedy search process
Improved working conditions