Microsoft Corp. is developing an automatic identification tool for the auto industry that uses radio signals to automatically tag and track inventory.
Automatic identification will allow suppliers and automakers to use a combination of electronic product codes and radio frequency identification to track products at the case, pallet, or item level.
The benefits range from freeing labor to reducing product loss and out-of-stock parts, said Charles Johnson, Microsoft's managing director of manufacturing industry solutions.
"It's imperative we focus on issues such as auto-ID, because if you want to provide supplier collaboration, you have to be able to provide it in a real-time manner," Johnson said yesterday at the Management Briefing Seminars. "With auto-ID, suppliers and automakers can immediately assess their inventory levels and react to it quickly."
For example, when a pallet of batteries is moved out of the factory to be shipped to the customer, a computer chip on the packaging broadcasts a radio frequency that is registered by a sensor. The data is used to adjust inventory records, Johnson said.
"So if you have auto-ID, you don't have to physically count parts," Johnson said. "This is an area where Microsoft is committing resources and investment for automotive customers."
Suppliers and automakers have asked for that type of technology, he added.
Besides talking about new technology, Microsoft is here looking for someone with deep automotive experience to lead its worldwide automotive team.
"Microsoft is re-invigorating its efforts around how are we going to provide integrated value to the automotive community," Johnson said.
The giant software company wants to replace Scott Carlton, who was general manager of the Microsoft Automotive Group in Southfield, Mich., and has been promoted to a product technology position.
"We have formed a worldwide automotive organization, so Scott's replacement will have responsibility for the worldwide automotive strategy, as well as execution," Johnson said. "So it's a much broader role. We are going to fill it with someone with deep automotive expertise."