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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

According to a Kumho Tire spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous, the company went about seeking a passive system that would still provide some level of real-time location of tagged items. "There is no other choice for RTLS [involving] passive RFID," he says, referring to Mojix's STAR RFID technology provided by Qbit.

The new system was taken live early this year.

ChongWoo Kim, Qbit's CEO
Rubber used in tire manufacturing has a limited shelf life—if it isn't used by a specific date after its creation, the material begins to deteriorate. That means that every sheet of rubber at the two tire plants has a short useable period before reaching its expiration date. "After the valid date passes, the rubber has to be discarded," the Kumho Tire spokesperson explains. What's more, raw rubber molds into tires best when it is first created and is thus soft and pliable. Therefore, the company wanted to consume rubber sheets on a FIFO basis. "That prevents waste of material and makes a better-quality tire," says ChongWoo Kim, Qbit's CEO.

The process of selecting the best RFID solution took several years, Kim says. Asiana IDT, a partner company within the Kumho Group, came across the Mojix solution from Qbit at an RFID convention. It then spent the next several years determining the best way in which to apply this technology to the company's existing operations.

Next, Kumho Tire and Qbit piloted the solution at a single factory, by tracking pallets loaded with rubber and determining whether those batches of material could be located throughout the facility. UHF RFID tags, supplied by Korean company Exax Inc., were attached to slips of paper placed on the stacks of rubber. The pilot found that the receivers captured tag location data well throughout the facility.

This year, each factory installed 18 STAR receivers and more than 2,000 Mojix reader antennas. With the full solution in place, an RFID-tagged slip of paper is inserted in each stack of rubber, using RFID labels printed and encoded onsite via a Bitek Technology printer. In addition, an RFID tag is attached to every cart used to transport partially manufactured tires.

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