If the Cubs can win the Series...

Dec. 7, 2016
... and do the impossible, why can’t RFID tech follow?

When I was a young technician working in the family tire dealership many moons ago, I would always find excuses to go into the main office when the Chicago Cubs were playing at home. Games started at 1:20 pm, so I was able to watch the games on the TV in  the waiting room most afternoons during the season. Although this didn’t do much for my productivity, it did a lot for my morale when they won. As the poster children for futility and coming up short over the past 108 years, the Cubbies have been the butt of many jokes for as long as I can remember. But those days are over because the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I never dreamed I would get to write that.

If the Cubs can win the World Series, why can’t electronic identification become standard on all truck tires? Both were seemingly impossible just months ago and now that one of them has been proven possible, why not another? I refuse to give up hope that someday the industry will be able to utilize wireless technology and electronically track every asset.

Working in a single-location tire dealership in the Chicago suburbs gives me a unique perspective on the business. I’ve always said that marketing and giveaways sell car tires, while performance sells truck tires. For the sophisticated fleets, consistency is important, but it still comes down to math because cost per mile is the ultimate determining factor. The rest of the fleets are simply looking at miles because that’s all they care about. They don’t care what name is on the sidewall as long as it runs.

Consider the benefits of a technician scanning the sidewall of a truck tire and then a Bluetooth pressure gauge and tread depth gauge automatically completing the fleet inspection process. No buttons to push or data to be entered. Tires could be wirelessly linked to vehicles with all of the information attached to the vehicle record. Fleets could use the data to track and analyze every new tire and retread asset down to the position on the vehicle. For a business that has militant focus on cost per mile, electronic identification in truck tires should be a no-brainer.

Imagine what would happen if there was a major safety recall of radial truck tires. If it’s a major brand, then the chances of knowing when and where they were sold are good. But if it’s an offshore brand operating under a shell company and the manufacturer of record is a small importer, then I would think the chances of locating the tires are less than favorable. Keep in mind that finding the major brands in the field would still be a challenge when the primary tools are a flashlight and a clipboard.

Most of the technology is already in place. Bluetooth diagnostic scanners are already available, but the missing link is the universal electronic readability. Most fleets have to either add a radio frequency identification tag (RFID) or a barcode/QR code to the sidewall. A major manufacturer is already on board with standard RFID, so the timing is right for fleets to make this a reality.

There are too many good reasons for electronic identification in truck tires and not enough good reasons against it. The expense should be minimal when compared to the cost of the tire and casing, and having the ability to electronically track every tire/retread in each position on every vehicle has to have some value.

If the Chicago Cubs can win the World Series, then surely fleets can convince their tire providers to include universal electronic identification on all truck tires. It shouldn’t take another 108 years for the impossible to become possible again.

About the Author

Kevin Rohlwing

Kevin Rohlwing is the SVP of training for the Tire Industry Association. He has more than 40 years of experience in the tire industry and has created programs to help train more than 180,000 technicians.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry at our April 16th webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive pay...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!