The RAIN Alliance recently held a Tire Masterclass for engineers, technicians, and technical leaders responsible for implementing sustainable RAIN RFID tags in the tire industry. The course took place in March at the Tire Technology Expo and featured contributions from twelve companies and 25 experts.  The course covered various aspects related to RAIN RFID technology and its application in tires, including encoding, embedding, manufacturing, sustainability, and more. Here is a summary of some of the key takeaways from that class.

RAIN RFID tags are considered the technology of choice for tire manufacturers due to their ability to provide reliable and permanent identification through a tire’s end of life, even when the tires are in motion. These tags play a crucial role in optimizing tire delivery, logistics, quality control, inventory management, and overall tire life cycle management, including retread and recycling use-cases, supporting tire, vehicle, and fleet operators’ sustainability ambitions.

To ensure effective implementation, it is essential to establish a connection between the information stored in the tire tag and the GDSO (Global Data Service Organization for Tires and Automotive Components) Tire Information Service. This service facilitates standardized access to comprehensive data on tires, serving as a platform for tire manufacturers to exchange information.

Implementing RFID tags successfully poses challenges due to the complex and demanding environment of tire manufacturing and the tire’s architecture. Tire materials can absorb or block radio frequency (RF) waves, potentially hindering tag readability. Factors such as the tire’s rubber compound and metallic elements need to be considered, along with mechanical and thermal stresses.

Selecting the appropriate tag and properly embedding it in the tire is critical to ensure resistance against damage, scratches, and extreme temperatures. Optimal tag positioning is essential for maximizing readability. Many tire manufacturers conduct DFMEA (Design Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) tests to qualify tire tags, ensuring their reliable performance across a broad RF spectrum. Additionally, it is crucial to lock the EPC (Electric Product Code) memory chip to prevent any unauthorized alteration of the tag.

The one-day course aimed to provide tire manufacturers and the RAIN ecosystem with high-quality content regarding the integration of RAIN RFID technology in tires. Based on the participant survey results, this goal was achieved. Equally important was the collaboration of experts who agreed upon the selection of “vendor-neutral” and “current-and-best-available” technologies to include in the training material. According to both the content design team and course participants, this collaborative effort was the key factor that made the training possible.

Due to the success of this masterclass, RAIN Alliance is considering conducting the masterclass in other geographic locations to expand education and “know-how” of RAIN RFID in tyres towards broad industry adoption. Keep an eye out for announcements from the Tires Workgroup.