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Thinfilm, G World introduce smart wine bottle solution ••• Smartrac releases DogBone, ShortDipole tags based on Monza R6 chip ••• Canada's University Health Network to use Haldor RFID system to manage surgical instruments ••• Teijin develops new medical device management RFID solutions ••• Industry groups promote RFID to reform, automate and accelerate tire recalls ••• NeWave's Wave RFID antenna evolved from New Horizons technology.
By Beth Bacheldor

Industry Groups Promote RFID to Reform, Automate and Accelerate Tire Recalls

The Tire Industry Association (TIA), an industry group representing businesses that manufacture, repair, recycle, sell or service new or retreaded tires, and nonprofit advocacy groups The Safety Institute and Families for Safer Recalls have jointly called on Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to support meaningful tire recall and recovery reform, including the use of RFID and other technologies to electronically scan tires to ensure successful recall campaigns.

U.S. Department of Transportation regulations require that each tire's sidewall be embossed with a tire identification number (TIN)—a unique, black-on-black, alpha-numeric code (11 or 12 characters in length) that identifies the tire's manufacturing location and size, along with the manufacturer's specifications and the week and year in which it was made. The TIN can be used to identify recalled tires, but the process is prone to error and labor-intensive. What's more, a tire's TIN is not a unique serial number. All similar tires made by at that factory during that week have the same TIN. In the event of a recall, the groups explain, no one has tools that can quickly, easily and accurately determine whether tires are part of a recall so they can be recovered. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that no more than 20 percent of recalled tires are recovered, the groups add.

While the NTSB is investigating the current system's adequacy and developing recommendations for improvements, the three groups report, legislators have authored a bill supported by the Rubber Manufacturers Association that only makes minor adjustments to the existing manual system. Instead, the coalition is asking policymakers to require a viable automated solution. Technological solutions range from RFID tags to laser-etched QR codes that would enable service professionals to identify a recalled tire with a quick scan, even if the tires have changed hands or have been resold.

"Tire dealers aren't objecting to tire registration," said Roy Littlefield, TIA's executive VP, in a prepared statement. "The problem is that the latest proposals put all of the burden on dealers and provide no realistic methods for service providers to do the job efficiently. In order for any tire recall and recovery system to work, we must automate tire registration and the retrieval of the TIN. The proposed legislation is centered on improving registration rates when the real focus should be to improve the recovery rate of recalled tires. At the end of the day, the only way that consumers are going to benefit is when recalled tires can be identified electronically."

Rich Newsome, counsel to Families for Safer Recalls, added in the statement that the current legislative proposal doesn't achieve that outcome, and that the tire-recall system needs to be significantly reformed. According to Sean Kane, the founder and president of The Safety Institute's board of directors, consumers and service professionals deserve a 21st-century solution to a long-broken system. "The only way the system works to ensure that tires are easily identified in recalls is when they can be electronically scanned," Kane said in the statement.

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