The use of RFID tags in tires is finally set to become a reality. Advanced ID Corp. has received an order for 2 million RFID tags from Chinese tire producer Mesnac, which had previously tested the technology in tires for trucks, buses, and passenger vehicles. Mesnac plans to lobby for widespread adoption of RFID technology for use in all tires driven or made in China.
The primary benefit of RFID-enabled tires is the ability to identify and track them for the life of the unit. The technology could be a huge benefit in the event of another mass tire recall, such as Firestone's 2000 recall of 6.5 million tires, which created a logistical nightmare for the company.
"With many of the world's largest tire manufacturers working with Advanced ID, we believe Mesnac's first-mover status will serve as a catalyst for broader adoption of our tire tags," said Dan Finch, president and CEO of Advanced ID, in a press release. "China is a market that Advanced ID is deeply committed to as we believe it represents fertile ground for RFID solutions and is a major component of the Asian tire manufacturing market."
The UHF RFID tire tag solution from Advanced ID is based on the company's proprietary RFID tag readers and RFID tag technology obtained through a licensing agreement with Michelin. Advanced ID's solution is twopronged; it provides a tire tag that is embedded in the tire during the manufacturing process, as well as a tire patch that can be applied to the tire after manufacture or to replacement tires already in the field. Both applications provide a life-of-tire, unique ID that can be used for inventory control, tire maintenance, theft prevention, and managing tire recalls.
Michelin and Goodyear have been among the leaders in testing the technology in the United States. Two years ago, Michelin, the world's largest tire maker, produced the first rewriteable, cured-in transponder that can store vital information. The RFID transponder, which is embedded into the tire during the manufacturing process, allows the tire's identification number to be tied to a vehicle identification number (VIN), making tires uniquely identifiable with an individual vehicle. The tags also store information such as when and where the tire was made, and its maximum inflation pressure.
Goodyear is also proving to be a pioneer when it comes to tires and RFID technology. The tire-maker installed RFID tags on the Eagle tires it leases out to cars competing in NASCAR races. The company says the solution is the quickest way to log in the thousands of new and used tires that must be returned at the end of a race before teams can leave the track.
RFID-tagged tires could be a welcome development for fleet managers. Along with tracking and monitoring tire conditions, RFID tags promise to improve vehicle performance. The tags can sense road conditions and communicate the information to the vehicle's operating system, enabling it to make adjustments if needed. In addition, tagged tires reduce the need for inspections, saving maintenance crews hours of work.
RFID is playing a major role in the construction of the Freedom Tower, the 1,776-foot structure being built where the Twin Towers once stood in New York City. As many as 20,000 active RFID tags with temperature sensors will be embedded in the concrete being poured for the building's foundations as well as other parts of the structure.
The RFID tags will allow the contractors to record temperature profiles as the concrete cures. That information will help them determine when the concrete can start bearing loads, thereby cutting down on construction time and costs. In some cases, the curing process can take weeks.
Although the building will have a blast-resistant steel frame, thousands of yards of concrete will be used in the foundation, stairwells, and other areas, according to Peter Linke, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Identec Solutions, the company that is supplying the tags.
Linke reports that there have been no problems reading the RFID tags, even though some are embedded in concrete that is between eight and 12 feet thick. The RFID tags will remain in the concrete once it cures. Linke says that the tags could be read for up to five years, or as long as the battery lasts, but that the tags have no use once the concrete hardens.
Identec Solutions' temperature-tracking tags and readers have been used in some highway applications, but the Freedom Tower represents the first major application of the technology to construction. Pricing information was not available at press time, but the cost is believed to be in the area of $100 per tag.
The Freedom Tower, which will include more than 2.6 million square feet of office space, will open in 2011.