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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

At Hana, tags are placed on a tray and run through the Tagsurance tester. If the tester measures a tag's sensitivity level as being too low, it displays that data, and staff members can remove that tag from the tray. The tags that perform correctly are then sent to Michelin, which conducts a second test before embedding a tag in a tire.

Although the optimal testing condition is in the far field, Aurén says, that is not possible in the production environment, in which so many tags are in the vicinity. Therefore, the tester includes the Snoop Pro coupling element—which, unlike a typical near-field antenna that inductively couples with the tag, is based on coupling specifically developed by Voyantic for testing UHF tags with dipole antennas. It takes the tester only 10 milliseconds to verify that a tag is functional on a wide frequency range, she adds, and 25 milliseconds to measure the tag's exact sensitivity. A shielding plate on top of the Snoop Pro is intended to shield out the adjacent tags, so that only the tag of interest will be tested at any given time. In this solution, the shielding plate was custom-designed for use with the Michelin tags.

To mimic the effects of a tag being embedded in a tire, the testing station uses a Snoop Pro coupling element with a shielding plate cut into two parts from the center, resulting in two separate capacitive loading strips.
The Snoop Pro shielding plate is cut into two parts from the center, resulting in two separate capacitive loading strips that are electrically connected along the opening edges. This design lets the Snoop Pro coupling element mimic the environment the tire would generate.

"All of Michelin's tire tags are tested with the system [at Hana]," Erdmann says. Although the testing system was developed for the Michelin tags, he adds, "it can be used for other tire tags, and we plan to explore that in the future."

Michelin is now preparing full production of the RFID-enabled tires for use in large vehicles by the end of 2016, and is using the test stations on each tag. "We are counting in millions soon," Destraves says.

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