Toyota Tsusho Corporation ('Toyota Tsusho') has started the trial implementation of a warehouse inbound/outbound and stocktaking system utilizing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)1 tags at its wholly-owned subsidiary, Toyota Logistics Service CO., LTD. ('Toyotsu Logistics Service') from April. The introduction has taken place at the Toyota Logistics Service Miyoshi Logistics Center II (Miyoshi-shi, Aichi), which engages in logistics for automobile parts within Japan. With a view for future coordination with overseas logistics bases, PT. TOYOTA TSUSHO LOGISTIC CENTER, the logistics base in Indonesia, has also established an RFID introduction project. Going forward, issues and points for improvement in global deployment will be identified over the course of actual work and verifications will be implemented in line for full-scale introduction.
1. Background and Aims of Implementation
Major issues in the logistics industry are a lack of human resources and the increasing workers age. From the viewpoint of BCP during times of disaster, the visualization of cargo status and global supply chain management are becoming issues. With expanded overseas production by automobile manufacturers and the associated overseas expansion of automobile parts manufacturers, Toyota Tsusho has now deployed its business in 28 countries worldwide and is engaging in the construction of optimal supply chains for automobile parts as well as stable supply and inventory management operations. IT is also being utilized at the Toyota Tsusho Group to increase business efficiency by promoting work style reform.
In general, automobile parts vary widely in material and shape, and there is a particularly large number of metal products. Therefore, the use of RFID utilizing radio waves was associated with problems such as decreased RFID reading accuracy as a result of irregular radio wave reflection and radio wave interference caused by metal parts. After verification of RFID introduction over 2 years, Toyota Tsusho fabricated and implemented the trial introduction of a Stocktaking AGV System combining an RFID tag reading system for warehouse inbound/outbound and AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicles/unmanned transport vehicles) at Toyotsu Logistics Service Miyoshi Logistics Center II. It is hoped that the introduction of this system will increase the efficiency of warehouse inbound/outbound and stocktaking work while also improving precision.
2. Overview of System for Introduction
Affixing RFID tags to packaging boxes when transporting parts into warehouses, and then comparing the RFID tag reading results with planned warehouse incoming lists, inventory lists and planned shipment lists for each work process will increase work efficiency and improve precision. For stocktaking work in particular, physical inspections of products stored on high shelves in warehouses had previously required that workers use a forklift to move the stock onto the floor, perform stocktaking, and then return it to the shelf. The Stocktaking AGV System, however, can be used to automatically read tags on inventory shelves up to 6 meters in height, enabling stocktaking work to be completed without having to move inventory onto the floor. This system could be used to enhance work efficiency and make it possible to perform stocktaking more frequently.
3. Future Plans
Toyota Tsusho is linking logistics bases within and outside of Japan to promote the visualization of automobile parts inventory in the supply chain and enable increasingly advanced ordering receipt and placement as well as inventory management to improve our logistics functions and service quality, to obtain even greater customer satisfaction. It is planned that RFID introduction projects will be implemented at multiple overseas logistics bases after the project is first introduced at our logistics base in Indonesia. Issues and points for improvement in global deployment will be identified through actual work and verifications will be implemented ahead of full-scale introduction. The real-time visualization of supply chain logistics will enable the optimization of logistics and make it possible to provide new services.