Radio frequency identification (RFID) is being adopted rapidly in a growing number of tire industry processes and will deliver more transparency, fewer rejected tires and production failures and better control of materials.
Major tire producers are investigating new technologies to support their internal production processes and to gather more data per process step for individual tires. During the last 10 years, RFID has emerged as the answer to the industry's problem. It is a technology that will change the tire industry rapidly by supporting improvement of the overall quality of individual tires.
Furthermore, large volumes of data will be gathered to support decisions with better intelligence. RFID is the booster for the "Industry 4.0 Development."
An RFID, or tag, is a chip equipped with an antenna, which is applied on a carrier such as a PET, polypropylene, paper or, in the case of tires, sometimes rubber or dipped mesh materials. The ultra-high frequency class one Gen2 has been certified as the world standard for passive — without a battery — RFID tags.
A comprehensive RFID solution always contains the RFID tag, software and a handheld or stationary reader including antennas. When a tag passes the reading field of an antenna, it reads the tag and sends the unique identification number back to the system. This can be a speedy process with up to 300 of these identifications per second.
In comparison with identification by bar codes, there are a range of benefits. There is no line-of-sight needed between the reader and the tag. Identification can occur in bulk, up to 150 tires in one scan. And the distance from which RFID tags can be read is more flexible than for bar codes, from zero up to several feet.
The tire industry recognizes these benefits and several solutions based on RFID technology have been defined in the past few years.
A range of RFID solutions for different phases of the tire production and logistics processes have been patented. Those solutions are all based on the same concept of a tag applied to an object, read by a reader and stored in a database. The challenge for a successful implementation lies in dealing with the complex and harsh environment of tire manufacturing. A number of solutions have addressed these factors and are available in the market.
In mixing processes, RFID labels can be applied on the big bags of chemicals, rubber and an RFID reader fixed on the loader. The moment the wrong chemicals are recognized by the reader the loader will stop and an alarm is activated. Mistakes can, therefore, be prevented before they occur.
RFID can support the management of tire-making machines, machine parts and tools. The type of tire is stored in a database and associated with different tools.