BMW leading the way on QR codes for tires

A SCANNECT QR Code on a tire sidewall. | © 4JET

BMW leading the way on QR codes for tires

What’s the future of tire registration? Well if one German company has its way, every tire will be branded with a unique QR code that will enable it to be traced throughout its lifecycle.

4JET Technologies had its QR code solution, SCANNECT, on display at the REIFEN Show in Germany last week, where the company won the show’s 2016 Innovation Award in the “Service Concept and Process Optimization” category.

Individually marking every tire with a unique and permanent QR (or Quick Response) Code on both the interior and exterior sidewall during manufacturing or at point-of-sale would mean every single tire could be easily identified with a QR reader — including simple smartphone camera apps already available for Apple iOS and Android devices.

Individual QR Codes ensure tire traceability

The technology would spell the end of stickers with barcodes that get damaged or lost, molded QR Codes that are not unique to an individual tire, RFID tags that require specific hardware to read, and engraved plain text serial codes that require users to type in numbers offline. SCANNECT is directly linked to a web-based customer resource management database.

Director of tire industry sales Florian Schreiber told Traction News last week in Europe that car manufacturer BMW is already demanding the technology be standard for its 1 Series and 3 Series releases in 2018 and 2019. He said Audi is following suit.

“It allows full traceability of the tires for the car manufacturers and the original equipment manufacturers,” he said.

“Especially for export to the U.S. from over here, you have to file the manufacturing data for the tires. That data is stored now but it takes many processes, but with SCANNECT it is done in an automatic way.”
Schreiber said BMW and 4JET hope to be creating a new industry standard — so QR Codes on tires could well be here to stay.

Laser engraved codes protected from wear

Laser engraved QR codes are recessed into the surface of the tire and hence protected from wear. Compared to conventional laser marking, which only leaves a low contrast mark on the black tire surface, the SCANNECT process creates a deep black marking on the bottom of the engraving, providing enough contrast to be read with cameras in mobile devices.

4JET managing director and co-inventor Dr. Armin Kraus said: “In the future tires will be purchased online: QR codes are scanned, suitable replacement tires are offered online and can be ordered immediately to the nearest dealership.”

Advantages to the tire industry value chain

He said such a direct link provides advantages for all stages of the tire value chain:

• Manufacturers can get to know their end customers and address them with specific marketing campaigns, such as warranty extensions, winter tire promotions and social media campaigns.

• OE car tire manufacturers can employ QR codes as a means of assuring traceability and reducing the impact of product recalls.

• Commercial fleet managers can use laser markings to organize inventory, track usage and prevent theft.

• End customers can retrieve valuable technical and commercial information about their tire specs and suitable replacements or quickly enter online marketplaces for replacements or to sell used tires.

Schreiber said there would also be advantages for tire dealers.

“For tire dealerships here in Europe (and colder climates), because the tires change from summer to winter and you’re storing them in a warehouse, it adds a lot of convenience to traceability. You can take a tire off, store it, then take it out again and know which tire it is. You’re not dealing with stickers any more that fall off,” he said.

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