Wireless parts replenishment provides manufacturing flexibility
Santa Clara, CA — June 29, 2004 — Ford Motor Co. said today that it has deployed the standards-based WhereNet real-time locating system (RTLS) technology from WhereNet Corp. at its new Dearborn Truck Plant at Rouge Center in Dearborn, Mich.
The WhereNet WhereCall wireless parts replenishment system will help Ford execute new flexible manufacturing processes allowing the automaker to adjust to shifting market demands for its top-selling F-150 pickup trucks. Manufacturers in Europe, North and South America, and in the Asia Pacific regions are currently using WhereNet's automotive applications to reduce inventory and increase productivity.
"Ford's River Rouge facility embodies the 21st century model for lean, flexible manufacturing. By leveraging wireless real-time locating system solutions, Ford is now able to run even leaner and adapt quicker to changing market demands," commented Bruce Hudson, program director of enterprise applications at the analyst firm META Group. "Amidst record new model introductions and increasingly complex outsourced supply chains, automakers must embrace wireless systems to connect people, processes and parts and automate manual tasks. Such flexible manufacturing capabilities are projected to save the auto industry billions of dollars over the next decade."
A recipient of the Henry Ford Technology Award for technological advancement, the WhereCall parts replenishment system uses WhereNet's standards-based wireless real-time locating system technology. Installed at more than 70 automotive plants around the world, automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) utilize the WhereCall system for just-in-time parts replenishment. Collectively, WhereCall processes about 4,000 requests every hour for all of its automotive customers (or about 35 million parts "calls" per year).
WhereNet said its wireless WhereCall devices provide an alternative to paper-based Kanban (parts replenishment) systems or hardwired electronic call systems.
"Having served Ford as a customer for more than four years and with installations in more than 60 Ford plants around the world, we are excited to expand our presence at River Rouge and to play a technology role in the manufacturing of Ford's F-series," said Tom Bacon, vice president of the automotive division for WhereNet.