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Goodyear teams with Wal-Mart on RFID technology

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is a voluntary participant in Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s plan to incorporate a radio frequency identification (RFID) system into its supply chain infrastructure.

In June 2003, Wal-Mart 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 participate in this effort as well.

RFID technology emphasizes the use of microchips that are typically attached to a product or pallet. These chips contain unique identification codes, which are "read" by radio transceivers.

The result is the ability of a company to collect and retrieve more information about a product than the barcode system. It also allows the retailer to track the product's location.

Goodyear says it 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."

Jon Rich, president of Goodyear North American Tire operations, says attaching an RFID tag to a box or pallet is relatively easy.

"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."

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.

Goodyear has been working on radio frequency technology since 2001, when it began collaborating with Siemens VDO to provide "tire

electronics solutions" through its TireIQ system. That system is designed to relay specific tire information to drivers through a custom "tire tag" composed of a computer chip and sensor that are built into the tire.

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