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Dutch Tire Company Bonds EPC Tags to Retreads

Roline is using a solution from Ferm RFID to better manage its retreading and inventory processes, and to enable customers to track tires installed on their vehicles.
By Claire Swedberg

A reader installed at the oven interrogates the tag as the tire is inserted and then removed from it, thereby creating a record of when the vulcanization is complete. Inspectors then look over the tire again to confirm that its retreading was properly performed, and a thin layer of black paint is applied to the tire's sidewalls. When the tire is moved to the area dedicated for painting, it passes a reader, which interrogates the tag once more, thus updating the tire's record again in the system. The tag is next read as the tire enters the warehouse.

Readers utilized are a combination of less expensive devices from MTI, as well as Motorola FX9500 fixed readers. The MTI devices have a read range of up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet), while the Motorola models have a range of up to 5 to 7 meters (16.4 to 23 feet). Therefore, Motorola readers are installed in locations at which more space is needed between the reader and the antenna. In addition, Uijlenbroek says, the Motorola readers are better suited at locations requiring a high volume of reads.

Roline's Hans Jorg

New tires are not manufactured onsite. As such, when Roline receives a shipment of new tires, it applies disposable adhesive Ferm RFID UHF tags to the exterior of each tire before placing it in storage. That tag can then be used for the purpose of inventory management. According to Jorg, the disposable RFID tag has a read distance of up to about 3 meters (9.8 feet) with a Motorola handheld—which Roline utilizes to conduct periodic inventory checks of the warehouse—and 7 meters with a fixed reader.

Since the system's installation six months ago, Jorg says, inventory checks have become faster. What previously required about a week to complete, he notes, now can be accomplished in less than a day, simply by walking through the warehouse holding a handheld reader. Because the inventory is more accurate as well, he says, the company can be sure that products are available for sale at all times. By implementing an RFID system, Roline is able to create a record of when every tire was received, from whom, and then track that tire through the retreading process via the RFID tag. The tag can then be used not only by the customer, but also again by Roline in the event that the tire returns to its facility for another retread.

Roline continues to determine how the data can best be managed in the software. As it does so, Jorg says, "We'll see where we can get more benefits."

According to Jorg, several of Roline's customers, including a large bus company, are interested in using RFID readers to capture their tires' ID numbers, and thereby manage the tires, as well as the vehicles to which they are attached. However, he notes, the technology has not yet been used in this manner.

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