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Tag Proposal Addresses Industry Needs

RFID tag data specialists from EPCglobal, ISO and an auto industry group have found a way for tire makers to include industry-specific data in EPC Gen 2 tags. Other industries could use the same approach.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Tags: Transport
Michelin and other auto industry manufacturers would benefit from the ISO revision because it would enable them to encode both industry-specific data and EPC data that tire makers and some other companies within the industry need to satisfy retailer product identification requirements. Without the revision to the standard, tire makers would need to use more than one RFID tag to satisfy the requirements of its retailer and governmental customers. Alternatively, they could develop a totally new numbering scheme designed to encompass both EPC and ISO product identifiers, as well as auto industry identifiers. Instead, the proposal provides a means of using the existing EPCglobal UHF Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6c protocols.

The AIAG follows the B-11 Tire and Wheel Label and RFID Standard, which provides uniform methods for identifying each individual tire with unique tire information. It created the B-11 in response to the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act (TREAD Act), which the U.S. Congress passed in November 2000, requiring all tires on new model cars to be tracked individually. The B-11 conforms to the EPC numbering scheme so retailers and the Department of Defense can use the EPC for inventory purposes. Initially, however, the B-11 standard called for EPC information to be included in a tag using a data identifier format, which the DOD and retailers wouldn't accept. With the new proposal, AIAG has also agreed to place EPC data in the tag's unique item ID (UII) memory, which is compatible with retailer and DOD mandates.

Pat King
The 18000-6c revision will, if ISO approves it, signify a breakthrough for companies such as Michelin. The developers of the proposal believe it will also provide a mechanism for firms in many other industries, such as pharmaceuticals or aerospace, to encode an EPC and an industry-specific code onto the same RFID tag.

"This concept may apply to a lot of different industries," says Hutchinson, cautioning that the application of this approach might not be as easy for other industries to adopt. "The tire folks have a good concept for exactly what they'll need for user memory. Other industries have less certainty."

"This [proposal] is a watershed in expanding cooperation between EPCglobal and the ISO community. We had some really good people looking at how this should be constructed," says Harmon, who worked closely with Hutchinson, AIAG members and other ISO committee members, on the proposal.

The proposal includes the following next steps: EPCglobal and ISO must accept and approve the use of bit 15 to indicate whether data is encoded to the tag's user memory; EPCglobal must reference the use of ISO 15962-compliant data structure for the user memory; and AIAG, with the support of overseas auto industry organizations Odette International in Europe, the Japan Automotive Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the Japan Auto Parts Industries Association (JAPIA), must submit the revision to ISO through the US TAG SC 31.

Harmon says he would like to see EPCglobal vet the proposed revision through its appropriate working groups. By the time the revision enters the ISO balloting process—roughly four months from now—the two organizations would be in sync.

"This [proposal] is of massive importance," says Pat King, global electronics strategist at Michelin, "because we don't want to put an EPC on one tag and a industry ID on another. But this could work not just for the auto industry, but for other industries as well. In the December meeting, EPCglobal said this could happen, but the [Jan. 25] meeting showed how it could happen."

Harmon notes that the revision proposal will not affect the ISO 18000-6c standardization process, which is expected to wrap up next month with a final ratification. The process to revise 18000-6c will not begin until the standard is ratified.

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