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Accelerating the logistics flow for finished vehicles

09 Jan 2023

To carry out their task of getting finished vehicles from the vehicle manufacturer to the final customer, logistics service providers, compound operators and shipping companies need to be able to identify individual vehicles and their destination. This is typically done by reading the labels, commonly known as VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) labels, that manufacturers attach to their cars before they leave the factory. Although the labels carry information that is human readable, reading in the finished vehicle distribution chain is usually done by scanning the barcodes that are also included.

There are, however, many inefficiencies in the scanning process due to the variety of labels used by the different manufacturers, the variety of information they contain, the lack of a common fixing position and, in certain cases, poor quality materials.

The Association of European Vehicle Logistics (ECG) carried out extensive testing of VIN label scanning in a compound in 2019 and as a result were able to recommend an optimum position for fixing the label on the vehicle. ECG then decided to work together with Odette to develop their first recommendation into a more prescriptive standard for the label itself by leveraging the experience of Odette in developing label standards for the inbound supply of parts to the vehicle manufacturers.

The new standard, besides addressing all the issues identified above, breaks new ground by recommending the use of the more robust 2D QR code rather than the traditional 1D barcode and also by taking account of the recent guidance from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) that Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) should be clearly identified for shipping because of the increased fire risk posed by these vehicles. This identification is achieved by the inclusion on the label of a 3 alpha character Fuel Type Code by which the manufacturer can show the fuel type of every vehicle. This new development has already been welcomed by several vehicle shipping companies.

We are also pleased to report that our recommendations have been very quickly taken up by Volvo Cars who have initiated a project to adapt VIN labels in their plants worldwide according to the new standard. “We at Volvo Cars happily lead by introducing one standard for all cars, wherever they are produced, whatever customer they are delivered to,” said Erik Uyttendaele, Head of Outbound Logistics EMEA at Volvo Cars. He expected implementation of the new VIN labels to begin in Q2 2023 and to start appearing in their various vehicle flows in Q3.

The recommendation is available to download free of charge.