Thursday, November 17, 2005

NASCAR puts 'Big Brother' in its tires to control team testing time

Goodyear’s 2006 NASCAR Tire Lease Program to Deploy RFID Technology

AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 17, 2005 – Goodyear will start the 2006 racing season with a new tire leasing program for NASCAR’s top three series and racing’s first deployment of Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID) in the form of an imbedded computer chip in the tires to help manage the leased inventory.
The RFID technology will assist in the implementation of NASCAR’s new controlled testing procedures which were developed by the sanctioning body to reduce private team testing next year in an effort to level the playing field for all teams.
The new tire lease program will get its own test run this weekend at Homestead –Miami Speedway with the Craftsman Truck Series race according to Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tire marketing.
“With RFID we will have the ability to ensure that every tire that comes to the racetrack with us leaves the track with us,” Stucker said. “While we will no longer sell tires to the teams for private testing, we will continue to supply Goodyear tires for NASCAR-scheduled testing in much the same way we do at race events.”
The RFID scanning equipment will quickly read the pertinent information imbedded in the sidewall of the tire. Stucker said that tire ID is the first piece of data that will be available through the computer chip. “We are exploring several other data options that will further the technological capability of race tire manufacturing and performance,” Stucker added.
Dedicated Goodyear specialists will be on site at all races with a specially equipped transporter to run the program. “The program is a major undertaking and investment for us in equipment, personnel and warehousing capabilities,” Stucker said. “The effort also reaffirms our continuing commitment to NASCAR and the overall quality of Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series racing.”
Goodyear began exploring RFID technology in 1984 and in 1993 began the first field trial with more than 3,000 tires. The Goodyear Racing Division chose to launch that technology to help manage race tire inventories for the 2006 NASCAR season.

Goodyear’s NASCAR Tire Lease Program and RFID Technology

Tire leasing:
Q: How will the leasing program impact race teams for tire supply and cost?
A: The teams should save money under this tire leasing program, because there will be reduced tire usage—the teams will use fewer test tires. Tire supplies at race events will remain the same.

Q: Does a team get reimbursed for tires they leased but didn’t use during a race event?
A: Yes. Goodyear will issue a partial credit for unused, but Previously Mounted Tires that teams leased for the race. Used tires will be scrapped with no credit given.

Q: What happens to the dismounted, unused tires?
A: The previously mounted tires will be cleaned, identified as PMTs and then made available to NASCAR teams to lease at a discount for either race or test events.

Q: How was it decided to implement tire leasing in 2006?
A: Goodyear initially was asked by NASCAR to implement tire leasing for the 2007 race season. However, in mid 2005 NASCAR asked if we could move it up, and Goodyear was able to commit to the earlier date.

Radio Frequency identification:
Q: Goodyear has a barcode to track tires, so why is the move to RFID so important?
A: The bottom line is: the RFID chip can store a lot of data, live the life of the tire and provide for automated reads. Goodyear Racing chose to implement the quickest method available to log in the thousands of tires being returned at the end of a race before teams can depart the track.

Q: How does RFID work for this application?
A: It is, in essence, the “next barcode.” It will track each tire’s lifespan and do it quicker, from a greater distance and at extreme angles, while carrying the greatest amount of information. Each tire has a unique ID.

Q: Is use of this chip technology an economical option?
A: Early on, RFID was used for high-value goods, such as car engines that an automaker had to track closely in production. But, higher demand has since lowered the cost to make RFID usage more viable on lower-cost goods

Q: Since use of RFID is new to Goodyear’s race tire business, isn’t there a risk of issues?
A: Racing is the perfect environment in which to launch this technology. It has been in development in our laboratories for several years. We chose to launch it in NASCAR because we have a very controlled operation that is run by highly skilled people. We have backup barcode and other redundancy built in.

Q: So this official launch of RFID by Goodyear is a big deal for everybody?
A: We expect this racing application to help advance efforts throughout our Goodyear operations. Its implications extend to production, quality, warehousing, sales and service. Just as a multitude of passenger tire advances has come from our racing roots, so goes this RFID technology.

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