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January 30, 2008

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Land Rover and Savi Launch RFID Pilot to Track Auto Parts Between Suppliers and Assembly Plant

SOLIHULL, UK and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Ford Motor Company's Land Rover division and Savi launched a pilot program to deploy an active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solution that better synchronizes the delivery of auto parts from multiple suppliers to Land Rover's key assembly plant in the West Midlands (U.K.). The pilot is made possible through a U.K. central government grant administered by the University of Warwick, which was instrumental in an 18-month evaluation of solution providers worldwide, and in selecting the Savi solution.

Savi, a Lockheed Martin company and provider of RFID-based total asset management solutions, is supplying RFID hardware and software to enhance visibility, inventory management, and asset utilization, and to reduce losses, assembly plant disruptions, and time spent locating assembly parts. Phase 2 of this pilot enables 18 suppliers and Land Rover to better locate, track, and deliver stillages (specialized steel conveyances) that carry bumpers, front grills, suspension parts, moon roofs, and vehicle bodies, among other parts. Real-time information on RFID-tagged assets is shared among the partners and is automatically transmitted to cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and web-based tracking software.

"On-time, precision delivery of components is integral to our plant's efficiency because disruptions in the supply chain can slow or even halt vehicle assembly, and we believe Savi's complete RFID solution can improve these operations," said Jonty Cook, Land Rover's head of Inbound Logistics.

"With its total solutions approach and proven track record, Savi Technology was head and shoulders above the other providers we evaluated during the 18-month review process," said Phillip Foster, investigator fellow at the University of Warwick. "Savi's total solutions approach is perfectly suited for a complex supply chain such as Land Rover's, and can be easily scaled throughout their global operations," said Bruce Jacquemard, Savi's managing director of International Business.

The RFID project is sponsored by the University of Warwick, and is funded by US$1.2 million of the U.K. central government's US$64 million PARD (Premiere Automotive Research and Development) grant. The PARD program, launched in 2004, is intended to increase the competitiveness of the West Midlands automotive industry by encouraging innovation, modernization, and technology development. The West Midlands region represents 60% of the U.K.'s car manufacturing base.

Savi's RFID-based solution begins by applying Savi active RFID tags on stillages as they leave supplier facilities, and associating the tag with the car parts carried by the conveyance. Fixed readers are placed at loading and unloading docks, entrances and exits of the suppliers and Land Rover's assembly plant. Whenever a tagged stillage passes by a reader, the shipment is logged and location information is transmitted to designated users. Exception alerts are sent when stillages do not arrive when and where they are expected.

(Jan 28, 2008)


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