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At Kumho Tire Factory, RFID Drives First-In, First-Out Process

The company uses a Qbit-supplied Mojix STAR system at its two Korean assembly plants to ensure that rubber material is consumed while it is most pliable and before reaching its expiration date.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 30, 2015

Korean tire manufacturer Kumho Tire is employing passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to track its consumption of the rubber materials that it uses to assemble tires at two of its factories. Qbit's RFID solution is enabling the company to boost its efficiency, better manage its rubber material and ensure that the rubber is used on a first-in, first-out (FIFO) basis, thereby allowing it to consume the material before it stiffens with age or reaches its expiration date. The system has been installed at Kumho's plants in the South Korean cities of Gwangju and Gokseung, while several of its other factories may take the system live during the next two years.

The company reports that it has already gained a return on its investment by increasing efficiency and eliminating the need to discard unused rubber due to it having expired before the material could be incorporated into a tire.

Kumho inserts an RFID-tagged slip of paper into each stack of rubber material.
Kumho Tire, owned by conglomerate Kumho Group, manufactures a wide range of tires under the Kumho and Marshal brands at its facilities in South Korea, as well as in China and Vietnam. The company claims that it is the ninth largest tire manufacturer in the world, and one of the largest in Korea.

In 2013, Kumho Tire's factories in Gwangju and Gokseung began applying passive UHF RFID tags to bus and truck tires (see Tire Manufacturers Roll Forward With RFID). The tags were designed for use in inventory management and logistics at distribution centers.

At that time, the company also wanted to track those factories' rubber material inventory levels and work-in-progress. To do so, it required a real-time location system (RTLS) that could cover each plant's approximately 200,000-square-meter assembly floor. The company wanted to use the low-cost passive UHF RFID tags, however, rather than battery-powered RFID tags that can be more expensive but provide RTLS data.

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