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Auto Industry RFID Data Standard Proposed
EPCglobal and AIAG have proposed an RFID tag data structure allowing tire manufacturers to use both Electronic Product Code and existing data identifiers.
Dec 15, 2005—EPCglobal, working with the Auto Industry Action Group (AIAG), put forward a proposal at an AIAG meeting last week that would enable tire manufacturers to use both EPC and auto industry data structures on a single tag. The compromise, if accepted, could pave the way for a radio frequency identification tag to be used in a tire, whether sold through a retail store, shipped to a carmaker for installation on a car or sold to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). AIAG is a nonprofit organization set up to resolve issues in the global automotive industry supply chain, while fellow nonprofit EPCglobal commercializes Electronic Product Code technologies.
"This is a step in the right direction," says Morris Brown, AIAG’s program manager for materials management. "We are still in initial discussions. Nothing has been finalized yet, but it is a good starting point that we can work with going forward."
The U.S. Congress passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act (TREAD Act) in November 2000, which called for all tires on new model cars to be tracked individually. Following that, AIAG developed the B-11 Tire and Wheel Label and RFID Standard to standardize methods for identifying each individual tire with unique tire information stored in an RFID tag.
The current version of the B-11 standard calls for EPC information to be included in the tag in a "data identifier" (DI) format. DIs are codes that let software systems know what type of data follows, or the origin of that data. The auto industry uses a number of different data identifiers, including a U.S. Department of Transportation tire identification number, which indicates the plant where the tire was manufactured, as well as the week and year it was made.
Retailers and the DOD, however, won't accept DIs, so their computer systems wouldn't understand the code identifying the number as an EPC. For this reason, they told the tire manufacturers that tags using the current B-11 data structure would be unacceptable.
Therefore, the auto industry was faced with a choice. It could provide one tag on (or in) tires for retailers and others using EPC technology, and another tag for those using auto industry numbers. Or, instead, it could create a new numbering scheme entirely. Neither of those solutions was ideal, though, since both would force auto companies to change the back-end computer systems they used to track goods in the supply chain.
During a meeting in Detroit on Dec. 7, Sue Hutchinson, director of product development for EPCglobal US, in Lawrenceville, N.J., proposed a solution for the auto industry. Her proposal was to use a record indicator in the first memory position of the user memory portion of the tag. This record indicator (not currently a feature of the EPC data structure) would include three fields: a record type, a record length and a current number of records. For the B-11 tags, the record indicator would show that information in the tag's user-defined memory is based on auto industry numbering schemes. The information would consist auto-industry-specific data such as the U.S. Department of Transportation ID number, customer part number, DUNS global location number (which identifies the facility where the tire is made), tire cure date and country of origin. It would be formatted in accordance to the ISO 15961/15962 standards, which were created as a standardized means of reading data from a tag.
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