RFID Rolls Into NASCAR Races

Goodyear will provide to racing teams tires that have RFID devices embedded into the sidewalls.
RFID will join one of the most popular sports in the country. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. roars into the 2006 racing season with an RFID-enabled tire-leasing program for NASCAR's top performers.

Aiming to help manage a huge inventory of leased tires, the program gives a green light to auto racing's first deployment of radio-frequency identification semiconductor chips and antennas embedded in the rubber.

Goodyear tested the program this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the Craftsman Truck Series race, a Goodyear spokeswoman says. "We had been asked by NASCAR to assist them in trying to cut the amount of testing that teams had been doing on their own," she says. "The way to do it is lease the tires so the tires are returned at the end of the race."

Race teams used to buy tires and test them before races. Now NASCAR will test the tires and provide them to teams, which will return them after the race for a partial rebate. Sometimes there are several thousand tires to retrieve. RFID will assist in the implementation of NASCAR's new controlled testing procedures.

Enhanced Operations

RFID will assist in implementation of NASCAR's controlled testing procedures for tires.

RFID will assist in implementation of NASCAR's controlled testing procedures for tires.
The RFID scanning equipment will quickly read the information embedded in the sidewall of the tire. The tire identification is the first piece of data that will be available through the computer chip. Goodyear produces nearly a half-million race tires a year.

The automobile industry for years has used active RFID, which has an internal power source like a battery to continually transmit a signal to a reader. Active RFID applications in the auto industry typically are deployed in the factory on assembly lines or to track parts through the supply chain and distribution centers. Goodyear expects the application will enhance its own operations from production to quality to warehousing to sales and service.

Goodyear hasn't been limited to test-driving RFID for NASCAR. It began exploring RFID technology in 1984. The first field trial took place with more than 3,000 tires. The tire company also worked with Sun Microsystems at its 17,000-square-foot RFID test center in Dallas for more than a year to understand RFID better and evaluate supply-chain applications for its products. The goal was to assess RFID tag and reader capabilities.

The tire manufacturer also is a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. supplier and eventually would have to ship products tagged with RFID labels. Tires are shipped in packages or on pallets, which requires a label on each.

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