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Michelin Uses RFID to Track Tire Pressure and Tread for London Bus Company

The tires on Stagecoach London's double-decker buses are equipped with passive EPC RFID tags and wireless air-pressure sensors that record a tire's pressure and tread depth within a matter of seconds.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 13, 2012Tire manufacturer Michelin is supplying an RFID-enabled version of its X InCity tires to some of London's buses, with a goal of making it simpler for bus-fleet managers to monitor tire pressure, and thereby improve safety and efficiency. Some of these RFID-enabled tires are currently being utilized by bus-service provider Stagecoach London, and are expected to be in service during the 2012 Olympic Games, to be held from July 27 to Aug. 12.

Michelin embeds EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) radio frequency identification tags into tire sidewalls during the manufacturing process. This allows the city's bus-fleet operators or Michelin's staff to use RFID to automatically identify each tire at the time that its pressure is being measured. The tags are used in conjunction with embedded wireless pressure sensors that measure a tire's air pressure and then transmit that data at 433 MHz. The wireless sensor solution is known as the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). To date, the company has been providing the RFID- and sensor-equipped tires for use on double-decker buses at Stagecoach London, according to Darren Roe, Stagecoach London's engineering director. The firm expects to have 100 of its buses fitted with the RFID-enabled tires by the end of 2012.

Translogik's iProbe+ device is being used to wirelessly read each tire's pressure sensor and EPC RFID tag, and to measure tread depth.

At present, Michelin's staff uses Translogik's iProbe+ handheld device, designed specifically for this application, to capture RFID tag and pressure-sensor data regarding Stagecoach London's buses. Eventually, though, the bus company expects to take on that task itself. Michelin's workers currently record tire pressures every three months on all RFID-enabled Michelin tires used by Stagecoach London, Roe says. However, he adds, "with this new initiative, there is no reason why we cannot record them every time the vehicle safety is checked," which occurs every 21 days.

Michelin has already manufactured 50,000 such RFID-enabled tires as part of its development and testing, and has logged a total of 6 billion driving hours during that testing period.

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