By Peter Ramirez, Co-Chair of the Tire Working Group at RAIN Alliance

Estimated to reach a value of over 176 billion US dollars by 2027, the automotive tire market is experiencing considerable growth. With more vehicles on the road than ever before, this trend looks set to continue. However, there is increasing scrutiny being placed on the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of tires from both governmental and private spheres.

As a result, manufacturers must consider what the next generation of tires looks like. Many are already developing smart tire technologies, with the aim of complying with impending legislation on sustainable practices – such as the Digital Product Passport (DPP).

One such technology is RAIN RFID (RAdio frequency IdentificatioN); an ultra-high frequency contactless technology that connects billions of everyday items to the internet. This allows users to identify, locate, authenticate, and engage with items seamlessly and securely. Following the recent approval of the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council Recommended Practice 247 (RP247), RAIN RFID has been enshrined as a recommended solution for state-of-the-art tire management.

So, what can RAIN RFID bring to the tires ecosystem? How can it improve the management, maintenance and safety of commercial fleets? And how can RAIN RFID data contribute towards sustainability priorities?

What is electronic tire identification and RAIN RFID?

Electronic tire identification solutions use machine-readable tags to attach identifiable data directly to a tire. RAIN RFID solutions embed small electronic tags within the tire that transmit stored information when scanned. Modern tire solutions look to use these tags to store a serialized item identifier which allows users to store accompanying data on the Cloud using the Global Data Service Organization (GDSO).

By storing the majority of a tire’s data on the Cloud, users can access information on the tire’s composition, its production data, a Tire Identification Number (TIN), and more without overburdening the actual tag itself. This means the tag size can be smaller, improving performance and making it cheaper to produce and maintain.

Gaining traction in the tire ecosystem

The aforementioned publication of RP247 highlights the clear value that industry leaders see in this technology, especially for managers of medium and heavy-duty vehicles tasked with overseeing large volumes of tire stock. RP247’s recommendation of RAIN RFID intends to enable fleet managers to gather real time information on their tire inventory, eliminating the need for manual processing, saving time and money and mitigating the risk of human error. These managers gain confidence that they have the required tires stock available to them and can accurately forecast future needs, helping keep control over one of the highest overhead costs all fleets face.

Identifying the problem

RAIN RFID-enabled tires facilitate fast and efficient servicing through a computerized inspection process. Each RAIN RFID tag is unique to every tire – even within a set bought together – with the accompanying Cloud-based data providing the required information for each individual tire. This ensures each tire can be monitored closely and in the event of a recall, manufacturers can identify individual tires as problematic rather than an entire batch. This saves them time and money, minimizes inconvenience to customers and helps preserve the manufacturer’s reputation as a trusted partner.

When tires meet the end of the road

While the commercial benefits RAIN RFID delivers are a major selling point, above all else, fleet managers must ensure their tires remain safe. This includes careful management to ensure that their tread is sufficient, and they are not at risk of breaking. Over the full lifecycle of a tire, it can be retreaded multiple times, it must be properly rotated to maximize its efficiency, it can often have multiple owners and be used on multiple vehicles. A RAIN RFID-enabled, data-led approach can help maximize the lifespan of each tire by ensuring that users can easily access all the information they need on an individual tire at all times.

Driving sustainability through data

When a tire is deemed no longer safe, users face a choice: retread or replace? RAIN RFID provides vital traceability data to help inform this decision and any necessary next steps. When retreading a tire, it is important to know if a tire is a drive or steer as their casing varies to meet their differing functions. If a tire needs replacing, RAIN RFID helps ensure it can be disposed of responsibly, as the composition of a tire can be validated by data held on the tire’s tag. This helps to inform how it can be re-used or its end-of-life managed, thereby creating a more sustainable tire ecosystem. This is especially important with initiatives such as the Digital Product Passport on the horizon, which aim to improve traceability and transparency along a product’s lifecycle.

Reinventing the wheel

The RAIN Alliance Tire Working Group brings together stakeholders from the entire tire ecosystem. The group collaborates on standardized guidelines and best practices that promise to deliver efficient, state-of-the-art solutions in line with upcoming legislative requirements. Global tire manufacturers, RFID chip manufacturers, tire tag manufacturers, reader and antenna manufacturers, solutions providers, system integrators and more participate in this forum to develop the next generation of tires.

Learn more about the physical, environmental and technical challenges of embedding RAIN RFID technology into your tires at the RAIN Alliance Tires Masterclass.

Want to get involved? Learn more about becoming a RAIN Alliance member.