Louis Fleischer is on a mission. As an automation engineer for the Portland Truck Plant, he has the dubious task of helping keep the production line moving for Freightliner LLC, a DaimlerChrysler company. Freightliner LLC is the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading producer of medium-duty trucks and specialized commercial vehicles.
Starting in April 2005, Louis kick-started an automation initiative for chassis and cab queuing, to improve the synchronization with the production schedule. Launching the initiative involved an exhaustive research analysis, evaluation and procurement process orchestrated by several internal and external parties focused on creating efficiencies for various zones on the production floor. A system to track and locate mission critical cabs and chassis at integration points was conceptualized.
Will Spencer, IT Business Advisor in Portland and key sponsor at the corporate level of Freightliner, ultimately signed off on the project, while Tom Gertz, Operations Manager, gave support at the plant level in Portland.
As many as 12 solutions were initially looked at and four vendors had been short-listed for the initial proof of concept (POC). Both passive and active vendors were considered including Cactus Commerce and IDENTEC SOLUTIONS. Some of the vendors couldnt meet the stated read distances and the RF performance did not meet Freightliners expectations in the real environment, states Louis Fleischer. On the other hand, Cactus Commerces RFID framework, which leverages IDENTEC SOLUTIONS hardware, is more suitable to our industrial heavy metal environment.