Goodyear Gets RFID Implementation Rolling

World's largest tire company working with Wal-Mart to bring radio frequency identification technology to the tire industry


World's largest tire company working with Wal-Mart to bring radio frequency identification technology to the tire industry

Akron, OH — March 11 — As part of its effort to stake out a leadership position in radio frequency identification (RFID) applications, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said it is taking part in a massive retail implementation of this important new technology.

In June 2003, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that its 100 largest suppliers would be required to begin using RFID tags on every case and pallet of product shipped to the retailer's Dallas region stores by 2005. Approximately 25 other suppliers, including Goodyear, volunteered to also participate in this effort.

RFID technology works through microchips that are typically attached to a product or pallet. These chips contain unique identification codes, which are "read" by radio transceivers. RFID can be used to provide information about a product and track its location. This technology provides numerous advantages over barcodes, including more information storage, better durability and the ability to retrieve data from a distance.

Goodyear is investing in RFID technology in the hopes that it will help the company increase tire sales and reduce costs by ensuring product availability, making supply chain operations more efficient, improving business processes and lowering operating costs.

"Wal-Mart is to be applauded for leading the charge to introduce RFID technology into the supply chain infrastructure," said Jonathan Rich, Goodyear's president, North American Tire. "Goodyear is in an excellent position to track the rapid technology advances in this area, and we are excited to be a part of Wal-Mart's trial."

As the only tire company actively participating in a large retail-customer-driven RFID program, Goodyear is leading the way to overcome the challenges involved in using this technology with consumer tires.

"Attaching an RFID tag to a box or pallet is relatively easy," Rich said. "Since tires are not shipped in this way, the tag is attached directly to the product. This is complex because tires are flexible, the material properties can interrupt or distort the radio signal, they are shipped individually and they are stored in arbitrary positions."

Goodyear is also addressing additional challenges, including ways to use and store the new information, managing the transition period between bar code and RFID tags, and ensuring an error-proof communication link. In the interest of consumer privacy, all radio frequency tags applied to tires by Goodyear will be designed to be disabled at the point of sale.

The company is determined to answer the questions surrounding how RFID technology will be deployed.

"We are committed to ensure this technology is optimized for our customers, suppliers and internal operations," said Joseph Gingo, Goodyear's executive vice president of Quality Systems and chief technology officer. "Our technology and business objectives are closely linked to drive new opportunities for the future."

Goodyear is not new to radio frequency technology.

"Our experiences with radio frequency communication between tire and vehicle give Goodyear the capabilities to add real value to the effort of extending RFID technology to the supply chain," Gingo added.

"Taking on this challenge was a natural choice for Goodyear. Since 2001, we have been collaborating with Siemens VDO to provide tire electronics solutions through our TireIQ system," he said.

The TireIQ system, which is being evaluated by original equipment manufacturers of automobiles, motorcycles and trucks, relays specific tire information to drivers through a custom "tire tag," composed of a computer chip and sensor that are built into the tire. The system provides the driver with appropriate warnings when improper inflation is detected, improving safety, efficiency and convenience.

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