ILVS, IPL, ALC … A major automotive supplier to Ford, Honda, BMW or Toyota may recognize these acronyms and may frown when reading them. These three and four letter acronyms are often followed by choice four letter words when things go wrong.

Tier 1 suppliers to automotive companies like the ones mentioned above are familiar with the terms in-line vehicle sequencing (ILVS), inventory part labeling (IPL) and automated line control (ALC) because some of them have been in use for years. For those of you automotive suppliers who haven’t, I’m not looking to scare you, but your destiny will likely involve one or more of them.

The reasoning behind this is Tier 1 suppliers have been told they need to implement these types of solutions in order to facilitate the advancement and streamlining of a more efficient vehicle production line. This means that as Tier 1 suppliers implement ILVS/IPL/ALC functionality, they may find that the parts they’ve outsourced need to be sequenced. This is happening today and it is an evolutionary step in the automotive ecosystem. If you’re a part of automotive manufacturing, don’t say I haven’t warned you.

Now for the good news! IQMS’ Automation Department has a solution for your ILVS, ALC and IPL headaches coming in the 2014 release of EnterpriseIQ. In fact, there are several solutions that range from production line side labeling of each piece/part to repack solutions that allow for labeling solutions for mixed item containers. Each piece/part associated to every container that is shipped can be tracked for full traceability and history on every piece produced.

Does your requirement involve sequencing? Sequencing is often dictated by the automotive supplier who requires that the pieces shipped to them are in the same order in which their production line is building vehicles. The automotive company will likely transmit the requested sequence data electronically through a proprietary protocol or, more often, through EDI transaction sets. Either way, they supply you with delivery times, items and what order they expect those items to be shipped to them.

This is a shift from the past where the automotive supplier could send an entire pallet of the same inventory item to the automotive company who would carry a large stock in order to buffer their production. Now the burden is on the supplier to build just-in-time (JIT) and/or carry the stock themselves. Furthermore, they must implement a solid solution that will not result in shutting down the automotive production line! For a solution like this, IQMS offers full integration solutions from EDI, ILVS/ALC and labeling, through warehouse management (WMS) and repacking, to shipping and Advanced Shipment Notifications (ASNs).

If your requirement does not involve sequencing, but does involve labeling each piece (IPL), then IQMS offers several solutions as well. You may choose to implement a real-time based application that will automatically generate and print labels to a line side printer. IQMS’ RealTime system can be configured to print customer/item specific labeling to a specific printer for each item running at a work center.

From here, it really depends on whether your production line involves a person or not. If not, you may have a print and apply system or laser etching device to put the label (or its data) onto the part. If you do have an operator at the press, you may have some heartburn. We all understand that not everyone is perfect … but why does the wrong label keep ending up on your parts?! With the EnterpriseIQ ILVS and ScanID solutions, the application indicates the progress of users filling a container as well as feedback with a pass/fail warning when scanning each part label. These labels can be tracked back to the operator who scanned the parts and out to each customer who received the parts.

The ILVS and ScanID applications help solve the issues surrounding inventory part labeling through Android applications available on tablet size devices. The applications offer simple, easy-to-use interfaces that tell the user exactly what needs to be done next and helps prevent costly shipping mistakes.

Manufacturing for the automotive industry comes with a unique set of challenges. With automotive-specific ERP features from IQMS, such as ILVS, ALC and IPL tools and applications, our automotive manufacturers can worry less and focus on what matters most.