Twenty years after its first automotive industry deployment, radio frequency identification (RFID) “is now becoming ubiquitous” within vehicles, as well as in automotive manufacturing and distribution processes, according to a new report from ABI Research, “Automotive RFID Markets: Vehicle Entry and Security Systems, TPMS, Automotive Manufacturing, ETC and AVI."
Vehicle entry and security system segments have the highest profile, according to analyst Robert Foppiani. Some 40% of new cars produced in North America today come equipped with immobilizers that disable a vehicle unless its RFID reader detects the correct tag in the driver's ignition key. "While RFID immobilizers have existed for more than a decade, volumes have increased in the past five years, and in 2005 the sector generated $3.7 billion in worldwide revenues," Foppiani said.
But Foppiani believes that greater growth potential lies in automating the manufacturing process. General Motors and Volkswagen, for example, both employ RFID tags and readers from Identec Ltd. in their manufacturing operations. Other large players in RFID assembly line automation include Escort Memory Systems and Siemens.
“With respect to manufacturing, Asia is definitely the hot spot, with European and, to a lesser extent, cash-strapped North American automakers following the trend," Foppiani said.
RFID can also provide visibility and security to the supply chain. “Containers of GM parts moving from Canada to the United States are RFID tagged; the technology helps keep track of finished BMWs, Minis and Land Rovers as they leave the factory, and in the huge parking lots of the Broekman Group's automotive division in Rotterdam, a WhereNet wireless tracking system can locate any one of 40,000 vehicles parked there at a given time.
The ABI study, examines how manufacturers are beginning to explore the use of RFID in improving manufacturing processes, as well as adding functionality to vehicles. In addition to RFID, it includes technologies using RF, such as tire pressure monitoring systems and vehicle entry and security systems.