March 16th 2009
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Germany
The Volkswagen Group gets excited about RFID

The German car manufacturer Volkswagen is preparing itself to move to the industrial phase in its implementation of RFID in its Wolfsburg assembly plant warehouse. This enthusiasm for radio-frequency identification technology follows the success of a year-long pilot project carried out with IBM. This involved testing the savings achieved using RFID on 3,000 containers (mainly for sunroofs for the new Golf) throughout the supply chain: at the sub-contractors, during transport, on arrival at the warehouse, for storage, collection and assembly of the parts on the assembly line, and finally when sending the container back to the sub-contractors. Volkswagen equipped itself with gantry cranes at the entrance to its warehouse for the purpose, used portable scanners and equipped some of its fork lifts with RFID sensors. The result: an 80% reduction in manual operations. “We optimized the product receiving process by reducing it to a single stage. RFID lets us identify four pallets on a fork lift simultaneously and record the stock automatically. In addition, the technology has been improved so that it recognizes metal containers which normally create interference", enthuses Thomas Zernechel, Group Logistics Manager. “Our long term objective is to set up an integrated paperless logistics and production chain for the whole group. The pilot project has shown us that we are capable of reliably incorporating this innovative RFID technology into our business processes at minimum cost”, said Volkswagen’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Klaus Hardy Mühleck, for his part. JLR

France
Auchan still motivated by river transport

The strikes that affected activity in the ports of Le Havre and Fos sur Mer last year have apparently not dimmed Auchan’s desire to use river transport on the Rhône and Seine for inland forwarding of its import containers. The distributor, who ten years ago was one of the pioneers in this field, in fact reverted some time ago to its traditional transport plan, after having redirected part of its goods movements to Dunkirk, Zeebrugge and Antwerp for a few months. In the second half of 2008, Auchan therefore had to rely to a greater extent on rail or road transport for the inland forwarding of its containers. “Our assessment of 2008 is difficult because we had to review our transport plans due to the strikes linked to port reform”, recognized Olivier Richard, Auchan’s upstream transport manager. But the long-standing decision in favour of multimodal is not for all that being called into question. “Consolidated transport, unlike what one may think, also gives us flexibility as well as reliability. The way we are organized gives us a buffer stock of containers close to our delivery areas that can be used according to the priorities”, he adds. Another received idea that Olivier Richard dismisses is the unacceptable slowness of river transport: “With a Fos-Lyon journey taking from day A to day C, or an Antwerp or Dunkirk-Lille journey from day A to day B, the impact is normally manageable when supply deadlines are between 45 and 55 days!” On the other hand, Auchan is finding that the 20% saving as compared with road transport is beginning to be reduced... JLR

Great Britain
Sustained
growth for Preactor
in 2008

The British company Preactor International, a specialist in the field of planning and scheduling solutions, has announced sales growth of 21% as compared with 2008. This software company gained over 250 new client companies in 2008. At the same time the publisher extended its partner network (distributors, integrators, ...), to reach 425 companies internationally. Founded fifteen years ago, Preactor now claims to have 2,300 customers and over 10,000 active licences. JPG

Spain
Ecological
construction
in Lugo

The builder Abcd has just handed over a storage platform for frozen goods to Gazeley. Situated in Lugo in Spain, this platform will be used by Carrefour. The building, which is of the cross-docking type, is divided into 4 cells: frozen foods, fruit and vegetables, fresh goods and goods at ambient temperature. According to the builder this project is part of a sustainable development approach that involves reducing greenhouse effect gases. Initiatives taken in this field have consisted of adhering scrupulously to a “low environmental impact site” charter, which it seems, is a first in Spain. In addition, this platform for fresh and frozen goods will use, so we are told, a natural refrigerant. An orientation that corresponds to the letter A used in denoting energy classification in electrical or domestic electrical goods. Founded three years ago, Abcd achieved turnover of €150 M in 2008. JPG

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Audrey Zugmeyer,
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