RFID tags and RFID readers are being marketed as game-changers in the waste management industry. The systems can easily be installed and managed by a variety of organisations. RFID tags are resilient to the harshest of environments and can be utilised in a variety of waste management sectors. Through a variety of dashboards, data can be recorded, analysed and presented in real time providing operational advantages for tyre manufacturers and their supply chain partners.
It has recently been announced that #Bridgestone aims to invest “intensively” in the production of RFID-tagged truck & bus tyres (TBR) over the next two years, towards incorporating the technology in all its TBR products. The establishment of a "circular business model" aims to combine digital capabilities and leverage tyre data where tyres are used more safely, longer, better, and more efficiently across the value chain. The programme will see the introduction of capabilities to embed RFID tags in tyres produced at plants in the Americas, Europe, Japan and Asia from 2024 (https://www.bridgestone.com/ir/library/strategy/pdf/ENG_mbp20221110.pdf).
Bridgestone added that it is "enhancing the supply of tires with RFID, starting with TBRs, which could best fit in the scope of our tire-centric solution business.” In its statement, the Japanese group went on to say that it anticipated RFID to be applied to all TBR products in 2030 as a global standard. Application of the technology to other products, including passenger car tires, is also being studied.
While this technology appears to have many advantages for tyre and supply chain management, one can't help think whether the combination of #RFID and #blockchain technology would challenge conventional wisdom in tyre management and create further advantages for Bridgestone and other manufacturers. The combination of RFID and blockchain would allow devices to communicate and collaborate without third-party intervention providing stakeholders with the capabilities to efficiently create end-to-end supply chain visibility.
Blockchain technology offers ground-breaking opportunities for efficiency gains and new means of building trust in tyre management supply chains. The capacity to understand and successfully apply blockchain technology will become an essential prerequisite for building competitive supply chains in the future. Blockchain technology can be used to encrypt and record supply chain data originating from operations along the tyre management supply chain in a forgery-proof manner. Data generated in the course of the physical movement of the goods is stored across a distributed range of storage devices. The storage of data in a network allows for the unique identification of true data, which makes it virtually impossible or prohibitively expensive to fake data. The RFID tags attached to the tyres can be used to document data as the tyres move along the supply chain. They enable contactless reading and writing of information. Data that is written onto an RFID tag can be encrypted and published via blockchain technology; users can determine who can read which share of the information within the network, despite the information being stored in different physical locations. The information is stored in ledgers, which are distributed across different servers, and other storage devices within the network as copies of the originally generated ledger.
From a tyre processing/recycling perspective, the ability to record and accurately account for the number and type/quality of tyres received would provide useful information on the origination of tyres and their historical life cycle but also valuable information from an oversight perspective. i.e. the custodian of the tyre waste management plan. Certain information could be kept private in order to protect dfferent stakeholders, and visibility can be granted to entities on a need-to-know basis. Ownership of blockchain assets can be transferred without revealing confidential transaction details, while still ensuring regulatory compliance according to custom-defined business rules. In the event that a government requires oversight of the supply chain, it could be provided an auditor role utilising viewing keys in order to gain industry insights into the network. Such insights would include knowledge of productivity, manufacturing outputs, prohibition of the resale of waste tires and output validification from processors/recyclers to determine processing subsidies.
The benefits of blockchain technology take effect along the entire supply chain and product lifecycle. Accordingly, efficiency gains are not only to be achieved in inbound or outbound logistics, but also in production, sales events, oversight or legal recourse. Having a trustworthy and secure database of supply chain activities is especially important in business environments characterised by low levels of trust and transparency.