Tyres have become smart, thanks to RFID technology, and transmit crucial data to the operator about air pressure, load and even road conditions.
In 2013 Korean company Kumho became the first tyre manufacturer to use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips in their truck tyres. Since then, most tyre manufacturers have started implanting RFID chips in their tyres due to the advantages the technology provides to truck owners and tyre manufacturers. RFID technology has the potential of transforming the management of truck tyres. Placing the RFID microchips in the tyres can provide intelligent features like tyre pressure detection, tyre tracking, and number of retreads. Furthermore, the data is automatically readable, so it decreases the errors and efforts in data collection.
How does the RFID Work?
RFID uses radio waves for reading and capturing information stored in the chip attached with the object. Any RFID system has two parts: (1) a chip or tag embedded with the transmitter and receiver and (2) a reader.
Any RFID component has two divisions: a microchip, which stores and processes the information as well as an antenna that receives and transmits a signal. Every tag has a particular serial number given to a particular object.
To interpret the data encoded in the tag, a reader or interrogator (which is a two-way radio transmitter-receiver), release the signals to the tag through an antenna. This tag replies with the data written in the memory bank. Then, an interrogator will transmit as well as read results through the RFID computer program.
How does the Information Get Transmitted?
RFID tags are the microchips attached with the antenna, which works like a transponder, which always listen to the radio signals sent by the RFID readers or transceivers. For truck tyres, the passive RFID tags are used because they don’t need batteries. This tag is powered by radio signals which wakes that up and demands an answer.
When a RFID tag gets certain radio queries, it responds through transmitting back a unique ID code as well as other information saved to a transceiver. As the transmission power is on the lower side, passive RFIDs are made for active communication when they are in the reasonably close proximity to the passive RFID tag readers within a few inches to a couple of feet.
Also, there are active RFID tags with their individual power source, usually a battery. It automatically transmits the information to the reader with longer range than the passive tags.
Tracking is the Key
RFIDs offer an exclusive number like any social security number, which recognises the tyre as well as allows the tyre manufacturers to track that using the manufacturing procedure, inventories and shipping to the end user and final point-of-sale. RFIDs can be used for tracking every tyre’s history and the data can be saved in the tyre manufacturer’s hosted Cloud in the maintenance management program.
RFIDs can be used for tracking the tyres from picking up at the location using the retread procedure and delivery back towards the fleet. The manufacturer’s software contains data about the number of times a tyre got retreaded, repairing it has got, its temperature and pressure history, tread depths, mileage and the sources of failure in order that fleets can determine when the tyre’s lifespan will end and when it should get replaced.
On the macro level, the data can be analysed in a database for determining the finest tyres as well as retreads for running in the operations and also take other well-versed decisions about age limits, retreading number of times, and detecting problems with any particular tyre and see if any improvements are required in the tyre maintenance.
American giant Michelin uses RFID technology for tracking individual tyre’s performance, efficiencies in the supply chain & inventory so that it can organise and predict the tyre’s life.
Collection of Data
Companies use RFID patches in every tyre position on the vehicle. These patches are used in the tyre’s sidewall. In addition, QR (Quick Response) codes are used for providing easy information access.
Handheld devices can collect data like air pressure, inspection data, and tread depth entered in the database besides RFID tag. An inner management system detects data about the tyre positions and mileage and helps compilation of data.
Then these data are collected on paper and it is used for the efficiency gains as well as asset management because of the difficulties to arrange and understand it. The RFID system helps collecting more precise and useful collection of data with thousands of tags used in the field, which helps in using the data effectively.
“The RFID system helps in reducing risks, managing costs, saving fuel, low down performance variables and emissions.”
Bridgestone has discovered many technologies, which allow unique recognition of tyres. The advantages of the technologies provide the capability of assigning data against identifiers –for the tyre, which helps in collecting specific information on the groups and individuals of tyres for providing important insights as well as improve the decision making.
Information from the RFID tags could be relocated from the reader using technologies like Wi-Fi, docking station, or cellular technology. Different readers are available in the market which can read RFIDs, get tread depths as well as cross-examine TPMS sensors for getting tyre pressures. Then, the readers send the information wirelessly using a PDA that communicates the data to the web portal.
The data available in the tags don’t change, however; the operators can assign extra data against the identification number of RFID. It can be done during a tyre’s lifespan, building a rich history as per the tyre.
The worth of RFID is the amount of data which can be given against a unique identifier given in an RFID tag. The main problem is how to connect all the data points within the database so that a maintenance system can take advantage from the combined data? The possible points of data collection consist of manufacturing, repair, retreading, emergency services and on-site services.
Placement of Tags
There are many ways of placing the RFID tags in tyres during the manufacturing, and a lot of them are proprietary in a new tyre procedure. Testing of millions of miles has been done for making sure that the intelligent truck tyres work well.
Different RFID tags, which are fitted with the tyres, are tiny, have the size of a rice grain as well as having a weight of only 1-2 grams. They are specially designed to get fit in the tyre’s sidewall. Special type of packaging is utilised to cope with cold, heat, and ruthless chemicals.
Post manufacturing is normally through chemically or the pressure/heat cured patch type of tags. The RFID tags are specially made to survive the retread procedure. The RFID tags have proven themselves to be reliable for retread many times.
The advantages of RFID tags for tyres are primarily associated with tracing however; they might become a part of the recall identification system which will allow the technicians to examine the tyres to check them for a recall. With the events like national recall of truck tyres, the RFID tags might be extremely valuable in getting the recalled tyres as well as removing them from the service.
The normal tyres have become intelligent and smart tyres and these intelligent tyres are capable of risk reduction, fuel savings, cost management, and low down the performance variables to make drivers’ and tyre manufacturers’ life easier!
Pic 1: Michelin introduced Michelin Tyre Care in 2015 to assist fleets in identifying and addressing tyre issues.
Pic 2: Tyres that communicate.
Pic 3: Dunlop racing tyres at Le Mans, 2017. Photo: Clement Marin/Goodyear Newsroom.
Pic 4: Most tyre manufacturers today are implanting RFID chips.