The Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Company, the first to implement Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology on a production scale, has claimed that RFID is the future for tyre identification in manufacturing, supply chain management and tyre/vehicle integration.

This weekend, Goodyear’s RFID technology passed its first major real-life test when NASCAR used it for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Homestead – Miami Speedway in Florida.

“A multitude of passenger tyre advances, such as innovative tread designs and new construction techniques, have evolved from our racing roots. Now RFID technology is following that same path,” said Goodyear’s director of vehicle systems Steve Roth. “The fast-paced, high-pressure racing environment was the perfect real-life test for our patented, embedded RFID tag, which has been in development in our laboratories for several years.”

Goodyear began exploring RFID technology in 1984 and in 1993 began the first field trial with more than 3,000 tyres.

“Through this programme, we can demonstrate the effectiveness of our technology, while encountering the same issues we would experience with any original equipment or retail customer,” Roth said. “We expect this successful application with NASCAR to help advance our RFID efforts on a far broader scale.”

Roth added that he expects RFID to have a huge impact on tyre production, warehousing, sales and service, and Goodyear is at the forefront of the movement. The tags provide for automated reading by RFID scanning equipment and are capable of carrying large amounts of information.

Tyre identification is the first piece of data that will be available, but as the technology progresses, specific tyre data could also be added that would allow for improved vehicle performance.

Goodyear will start the 2006 racing season with a new tyre leasing programme for NASCAR’s top three series, and RFID technology will assist with the implementation of NASCAR’s new controlled testing procedures, developed to level the playing field for all of the teams in the series.

The RFID chips store tyre identification data to help manage the leased inventory and ensure each team gets its correct tyres. Goodyear says RFID is the quickest method available to log in the thousands of new and used tyres being returned at the end of a race before teams can depart the track. Goodyear is the exclusive tyre supplier to NASCAR’s top three series.

Goodyear is an advocate for the use of the EPCglobal Unique Identification (UID) format for data contained on the RFID tag. Roth said providing a standard is one of the most important steps in getting new technology adopted, easing implementation for both customers and suppliers.