Volvo Car Ghent increases supply chain efficiency with IoT-solution

05 March 2019

At the end of last year, Volvo launched an IoT-pilot project together with Sensolus and Simac designed to quickly locate specific vehicles. Using this approach, cars can be located within five minutes, wherever they are parked after the manufacturing process. This is an important step in the optimization of the supply chain.

Volvo Car Ghent produces more than 200.000 vehicles each year, making the company one of the largest production sites of the famous car brand. During the launch of a new model or model year change, cars do not always follow the normal flow, which can make it more difficult to quickly find a specific finished car. "The business asked us to look for a tool with which we can identify our cars quickly," says Patrick Van Peteghem, Infrastructure Site Manager at Volvo Car Ghent. “Simac and Sensolus had the ideal solution for us.”.

For nearly 20 years, Simac has been one of the regular integration partners of Volvo Cars. Their cooperation with Sensolus, a growth company from Ghent, shows that long-term partnerships do not stop companies from being innovative. Kristoff Van Rattinghe, CEO and co-founder of Sensolus, explains: "For five years it has been our mission to combine assets that are not connected to the internet in a simple way so as to connect and form digital assets, the creation of "digital twins". At Sensolus, we specialize in optimizing business processes through these digital twins, the so-called Industrial Internet of Things. Other customers of Sensolus include Airbus, AGC and AB InBev.

For the project with Volvo, Sensolus provided sensors that used little energy and were remotely programmable. That makes it easy for changes to take effect when circumstances or processes change. Simac ICT Belgium took responsibility for the entire delivery and integration, including integration with a number of existing IT systems at Volvo Cars. “Internet of Things is one of our most important spearheads," says Johan Diels, Director of the Integration Business Unit at Simac. "We already had extensive experience with such projects, both at home and abroad."

Volvo sees this pilot project, which was implemented in less than a month, as a very important improvement. "We were looking for a quick solution, and that’s what we found," says Van Peteghem. "The integration of the IoT-solution with our current quality system went smoothly. Now we know within five minutes where a vehicle is located."

During the pilot project, a total of approximately one thousand sensors were used for the tracking of Volvo V60. Of course, other models that are also produced in Ghent, such as the V40 and XCV40, can also be easily equipped with a tracking system. "One of our strengths is the scalability of our IoT-solution," confirms Van Rattinghe.

Cars are not only followed on the car parks, as the tracking system can also be used inside. In this way, the Sensolus sensors determine whether cars sit idle too long and at which point in the production chain a car is delayed. That certainly offers opportunities for the future.

"The Ghent-based pilot project is also monitored internationally for any other applications where the supply chain can be optimized," adds Peter Vanderlinden, Sales and Business Development Lead in Industry 4.0, IoT, AI and Block Chain at Simac ICT Belgium.