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Michelin Ramps Up Tagging Program, Launches RFID-based App

To support that effort, the company adopted a high-speed, wide-band tag-testing system and released a hosted RFID-based solution for tracking tire air pressure.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 03, 2015

After several years spent developing a radio frequency identification system featuring embedded EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive tags in its heavy truck, coach and bus tires, Michelin—one of the world's largest tire producers—has now taken additional steps toward full deployment. To this end, the company has adopted testing technology to confirm that every tag is functioning properly before permanently embedding it into the sidewall of a tire being manufactured, and has released a hosted RFID-based solution for monitoring tire pressure.

Michelin's tag supplier, Hana Microdisplay Technologies, verifies the functionality of all tags it supplies to the tire maker. Before shipping the tags to Michelin, Hana uses Voyantic's Tagsurance system to automatically test multiple tags loaded onto a tray. Michelin then checks each tag again via a Tagsurance manual test station prior to embedding it in a tire. The manual and automated test stations are the same, with the exception that the manual version is operated via a foot pedal that triggers the measurement, and emits an audible beep to indicate that a tag has performed satisfactorily.

Before shipping the tags to the tire maker, Hana Microdisplay Technologies uses Voyantic's Tagsurance system to automatically test multiple tags loaded onto a tray.
Furthering Michelin's RFID goals, the company recently launched the Michelin Tire Care suite apps, which include its cloud-based iManage app and cloud-based service. With iManage, fleet operators can use an RFID reader to capture the unique ID number encoded to each tag at the same time that they read the pressure sensors built into the tires. That data is forwarded to the cloud-based server so that the fleet operator can track each tire's history, as well as what its pressure readings have been, thereby making it possible to better determine when a tire has reached the end of its lifespan and should be replaced to ensure the vehicle's safe operation.

During a tire's manufacturing, Michelin embedded a tag directly into the rubber of the tire's sidewall, though the tag can also be sold to customers in the form of a patch that attaches to a tire's exterior.

Rubber and steel belts in the tire can affect RFID signals. Therefore, the tags must be over-tuned to compensate for the material's detuning effect, thus making them better able to respond to interrogation with a strong transmission when embedded into tires. Michelin worked with Hana Microdisplay to develop an EPC UHF RFID tag specifically for this environment, one that could be incorporated into a tire and still function well. The tag is also being used by other tire manufacturers.

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