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Goodyear works with Wal-Mart to bring RFID supply chain technology to tire industry

AKRON, Ohio -- As part of its effort to stake out a leadership position in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) ap...

AKRON, Ohio — As part of its effort to stake out a leadership position in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) applications, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is taking part in a massive retail implementation of this important new technology.

In June 2003, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., announced that its 100 largest suppliers would be required to begin using RFID tags on every case and pallet of product shipped to the retailer’s Dallas region stores by 2005.

Approximately 25 other suppliers, including Goodyear, volunteered to also participate in this effort.

RFID technology works through microchips that are typically attached to a product or pallet. These chips contain unique identification codes, which are read by radio transceivers. RFID can be used to provide information about a product and track its location.

This technology provides numerous advantages over barcodes, including more information storage, better durability and the ability to retrieve data from a distance.

Goodyear is investing in RFID technology in the hopes that it will help the company increase tire sales and reduce costs by ensuring product availability, making supply chain operations more efficient, improving business processes and lowering operating costs.

“Attaching an RFID tag to a box or pallet is relatively easy,” Jonathan D. Rich,
Goodyear’s president, North American Tire said. “Since tires are not shipped in this way, the tag is attached directly to the product. This is complex because tires are flexible, the material properties can interrupt or distort the radio signal, they are shipped individually and they are stored in arbitrary positions.”

Goodyear is also addressing additional challenges, including ways to use and store the new information, managing the transition period between bar code and RFID tags, and ensuring an error-proof communication link. In the interest of consumer privacy, all radio frequency tags applied to tires by Goodyear will be designed to be disabled at the point of sale.

The company is determined to answer the questions surrounding how RFID technology will be deployed.

Goodyear is not new to radio frequency technology.

“Our experiences with radio frequency communication between tire and vehicle give Goodyear the capabilities to add real value to the effort of extending RFID technology to the supply chain,” said Joseph M. Gingo, Goodyear’s executive vice president of Quality Systems and chief technology officer.

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