Gulf States Toyota Revs Up with Active RFID, Real-time Locating System Technology

In partnership with IBM, WhereNet's vehicle tracking and management system to locate, expedite processing of 190,000+ new Toyotas annually

In partnership with IBM, WhereNet's vehicle tracking and management system to locate, expedite processing of 190,000+ new Toyotas annually

Santa Clara, CA — August 2, 2005 — Gulf States Toyota, a regional Toyota distributor for 145 dealers, has selected IBM and WhereNet Corp., both providers of wireless solutions for tracking and managing enterprise assets, to provide an active radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking system for annually processing more than 190,000 cars.

Gulf States Toyota said it made the investment in the system to better serve its dealers, which in turn, offers better service to customers.

Gulf States Toyota has deployed the active RFID-powered WhereNet vehicle tracking and management system (VTMS) to locate new Toyotas at its 84-acre processing center in Houston.

Where staff would walk the lot to identify cars for particular dealers in the past, the new system uses WhereNet's real-time locating system (RTLS) technology in tandem with IBM's business process and integration services to automate business processes and expedite delivery of vehicles to dealerships across a five-state region  reducing processing and labor costs, while achieving better quality and customer service, according to the distributor.

The IBM and WhereNet solution enables Gulf States Toyota to track and manage the processing of every new vehicle, as well as to conduct flow analysis for continuous improvement and optimized throughput and quality.

Continuous improvement is the Toyota way, said Gary Cole, senior manager, planning and logistics for Gulf States Toyota. So we are pleased to have the IBM/WhereNet vehicle tracking and management system, which will help us serve the dealers in our region more efficiently.

When new vehicles arrive via rail car at the Gulf States Toyota vehicle processing center, each vehicle is assigned an active RFID WhereTag transmitter that is married to the vehicle identification number. The WhereTag remains on the vehicle until it has been customized according to the buyer's specifications and is ready to ship to one of the 145 dealerships serviced by Gulf States Toyota.

IBM led the overall solution development and project management. This included meshing business process consulting and back-end integration with WhereNet's RTLS architecture, including 40 WhereLAN locating access points and 74 WherePort devices. The devices trigger the car's WhereTag to emit a signal that automatically records such information as arrival, dwell and departure time of the vehicle without any human intervention.

Furthermore, by incorporating business rules and system alerts based on customer order status and dwell time, a logical hierarchy of rules manages the processing of every vehicle in accordance with its assigned status so that critical orders are processed before lower-priority units. Users cannot deviate from the proper sequence without overriding the system and generating an exception report.

By using the IBM-led system, Gulf States Toyota expects to realize a complete return on investment in less than one year through numerous benefits, including reduced labor cost for vehicle processing, as the WhereNet system automates and directs much of the work flow; reduced on-site dwell time; and higher quality vehicles, as the system helps ensure that no process steps are missed and that every vehicle departs in accordance with dealer/customer specifications.

In addition, since the vehicles are processed in the most efficient manner as a result of move requests driven by the IBM and WhereNet system, they are moved less frequently and therefore less likely to incur dings and damage during processing procedures.

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