Michelin Introduces Radio Frequency Tire Identification Technology

Michelin Introduces Radio Frequency Tire Identification Technology

First Tire Company to Begin Fleet Testing of Radio Frequency Tire
Identification System for Passenger and Light Truck Tires

DETROIT, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The road to gathering information about
the tires on your family vehicle is about to become an information super
highway. Michelin engineers have developed a radio frequency identification
(RFID) transponder that is manufactured into the tire and stores vital tire
identification information. With this technology, the tire identification
number can now be associated with the vehicle identification number (VIN)
making the tires uniquely identifiable with an individual vehicle, telling
when and where the tire was made, maximum inflation pressure, tire size, etc.
"This innovation has attractive implications for tire makers, for vehicle
makers and for consumers," said Tom Chubb, vice president of new product
development for Michelin Automotive Industries Division. "For vehicle and
tire makers it means a simple and innovative way to comply with federal record
keeping standards, including those of the new TREAD (Transportation, Recall,
Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation) Act. For consumers it means
convenience and confidence."
The transponder consists of an antenna and an integrated circuit that has
a higher data capacity than a bar code, yet the integrated circuit is only
about the size of a match head. It can be encoded and decoded with a simple
hand-held device and unlike a bar code, remains unaffected by soil or
deterioration over time. The information on the circuit can also be modified
to reflect new data, such as the VIN number of the vehicle on which it is
mounted. The integrated circuits are manufactured by Fairchild
Semiconductor(TM) and Philips. As part of the supply arrangement, Philips
provides its brand new I.CODE HSL IC. Both ICs are under license from Intermec
Technologies Corporation.
Michelin's unique contribution to this RFID system was its modification of
the antenna attached to the electronic device and the proprietary treatment of
the device that makes it possible to vulcanize the assembly into the tire.
While some other tire makers have demonstrated similar technology,
Michelin's RFID tag is the first to meet the Automotive Industry Action
Group's B-11 standard for North America, as a "cured into the tire" solution.
Operating at ultra high frequency (UHF), the Michelin RFID tag can be
interrogated by a reader, hand-held or mounted, some 24 inches or more (at or
beyond 60cm) away from the transponder. Once collected, the information can be
stored in a database for accurate and easy retrieval.
Fleet testing of the technology is currently under way. Michelin is
believed to be the only tire maker to industrialize this kind of radio
frequency technology in tires. Even with this kind of market place advantage,
Michelin says it will gladly make the technology available to the entire
industry.
"No more getting down on your hands and knees to read tire information off
the sidewall," said Terry Gettys, president of Michelin North Americas
Research and Development Corporation. "But that's only the convenience
factor. The real benefit of this technology, especially in light of the TREAD
Act, is how it can enhance the industry's ability to access information about
tires and vehicles."
Michelin says the RFID technology will most likely be introduced through
the original equipment market, but could soon be feasible for replacement
tires as well.
"We see great promise in this technology," said Gettys. "In future
generations, the electronics in tires will be able to communicate with the
vehicle's computers, giving information about tire air pressure, even ride
characteristics like suspension stiffness and ride comfort for a given road
surface."
Michelin says the cost of this technology will be affordable and value
driven. Like any innovation, the cost per unit will go down as it becomes
more and more industrialized. Original equipment manufacturers are already
interested. At least one international OEM is working with Michelin to bring
RFID to market as an option in model year 2005.
"We believe this technology is a breakthrough in information reporting
that should be shared and advanced throughout the industry," Gettys said. "The
sooner RFID is widely available, the sooner it will begin benefiting the
industry and consumers."
Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including
airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty
trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel
guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America employs 25,900 and
operates 22 plants in 18 locations.

For more information about Intermec, a UNOVA company (NYSE: UNA), visit
http://www.intermec.com.

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