Tire Industry Drives Digital ID Standards

Published: March 27, 2024

The GDSO is outreaching to members of the tire supply chain to increase data points for a tire’s life

Legislation in Europe is focusing on sustainability and tracking how products are made, used and recycled. One mammoth group paying close attention is the tire industry.

With 1.2 billion tires in use today, 70 percent of which are mounted on personal vehicles, governments are keenly aware that proper management of those tires will boost global sustainability.

But tracking each unique tire is a complex challenge: during their lifetime, tires are used, retreaded, recycled and eventually discarded. They often pass through the hands of dozens of parties throughout that time.

In an effort to support universal tire data capture, Global Data Service Organization (GDSO) is focusing on standardization and access to data captured from tires throughout their lifespan, said Riccardo Giovannotti, GDSO’s secretary general.

TIS and Connectors for Standardizing Tire Data

GDSO, an international nonprofit, has developed a platform to allow tire data sharing that starts from a serialized tire’s identity —using RFID or other technologies. GDSO is also working to expand a service it launched to collect information throughout the tire’s life cycle.

The organization serves as “Data Space” for tire information. Its related Tyre Information Service (TIS), which went live in Summer 2022, acts as a “connector” from which users can access standardized data in that Data Space in the cloud.  GDSO was launched by the world’s largest tire manufacturers to create interoperability and trust among the different parties that make, manage and use tires.

“The [goal] was to set the proper technical framework to simplify the huge step-up the industry faces,” said Giovannotti.

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European Legislation Ahead

The group intends to aid with digitalization, data transfer, new services and new business models in what is a complex ecosystem, with challenging requirements, he added.

In that effort, GDSO will be part of EU’s CIRPASS2 consortium project, aimed at demonstrating the benefits in sharing data along the life of some products. In fact, the European Commission has been working on the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation, where tires are listed in the priority list, and for which technical requirements such as the Digital Product Passport (DPP) will apply.

GDSO will support the ongoing technical discussions to help the tire industry prepare for new regulations. But the group is also holding regular discussions with stakeholders along the tire value chain—vehicle manufacturers, retreaders and end of life companies—to take into account their needs.

Industry members met with GDSO officials to further these efforts at the Tire Technology Expo in Hannover, Germany earlier this month.

The Role of RFID in Tire Management

GDSO is a technology-agnostic group and its services focus on any unique tire identifier that allows identification for every single tire produced around the world. However, as of today, an embedded UHF RAIN RFID is the only accessible and standardized data carrier that can enable applications that cover the whole life cycle of the tire, as is needed to meet the European DPP, said Giovannotti.

In fact, use of passive UHF RAIN RFID in tires has been a topic of industry discussion since the early 2000s. Broad industry adoption of embedded-tire tags has been slow, however, said Peter Ramirez, co-chair of the Tire Working Group at RAIN Alliance.

Part of that lack of traction has been due to few early use cases. More recently though, Ramirez said, “We’ve seen momentum pick up in recent years.”

Typically tire manufacturers have been able to leverage the GS1 standard SGTIN-96 serial trade number for end-of-life traceability, such as DPP, according to Ramirez.

Commercial Vehicle Focus

The majority of RFID commitments have been focused on the commercial vehicle tire market used for heavy-duty trucks and buses.  In such cases, RFID provides immediate benefits for those with vehicle fleets for telematics, fleet maintenance, asset and inventory management and Tires as a Service, (TaaS).

“As a result, deploying RAIN RFID can help manufacturers drive down costs as well as improve visibility into their fleets,” Ramirez pointed out.

The tire service and repair industry has also begun to integrate RFID-reading capability into their hardware so that they can leverage the unique-item identifier of each tire in their solutions.

Tires Workgroup Brings Technology Companies to the Table

The 2016 creation of the ISO Working Group (ISO TC 31/WG 10) has led to four global standards published between 2019 and 2020. The RAIN Alliance Tires Workgroup launched in 2020, to educate the market about the best use of RFID technology.

The alliance’s Tires Workgroup brings together not only global tire manufacturers but technology companies including RFID chip manufacturers, tire tag manufacturers, reader and antenna manufacturers, solutions providers and system integrators. Additionally, members include test equipment providers and labs, and software providers.

“Our shared mission is to create educational material to support the implementation of RAIN RFID in the tire industry,” said Ramirez.

Embedded tire tags have the advantage, over label or inlay tags, in that they last through the full lifecycle of the tire, up to the tire’s end-of-life. This benefit differentiates RFID from data carriers such as barcodes.

GDSO Building its Ecosystem

All the adoption and deployments underway thus far represent the starting point for the tire industry, Giovannotti said. GDSO members are urging other tire companies to join the ecosystem to provide more data, and more use cases, for tire management—a central effort for the organization in Germany earlier this month.

Already the TIS connectors in place are serving as a tool to enable multiple parties to gain benefits from the data. For example, said Giovannotti, a tire store can have the need to get a clear understanding about the identity of the tire they received from a vendor.

“You’re going to scan the tire and you capture that ID, then using our TIS connector you go to details regarding the manufacturer,” he said, describing TIS as a traffic cop for tire-related data. “The next step really is going to be getting more of these companies like retreaders to start connecting to this data. We need to all collaborate and to enhance this kind of data pool.”

In that way, eventually, all companies that touch a tire—from the time it’s manufactured until it’s recycled and finally reached the end of its life—can be involved in creating a digital story of the tire’s full lifespan.

Organizational Goals

In the short term, GDSO is focused on developing a new connector to enable new use cases around sustainability and circularity. The midterm goal is to increase membership and services, while GDSO is looking at unique identification of other vehicle components in the long term.

While based in Brussels, the organizations efforts are beyond Europe as the largest tire manufacturers are all global companies.

Another effort for GDSO will be reaching out to some of the smaller tire companies that are not yet thinking about digital identities for their tires.

“With digitalization they really need a mindset shift,” said Giovannotti. “They may be focusing their attention on making tires and trying to keep their profit, following today’s business models. But they may not have a clear understanding about the return on investment,” of digital identity technology for their products. That is because they have not developed new business models specific to data management.

Key Takeaways:

  • GDSO is encouraging new participants in the tire supply chain to join the effort to create a single, unified approach to tire data management from factory to disposal.
  • The RAIN Alliance Tire Workgroup is supporting manufacturers in the use of RFID to meet DPP requirements.