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Use of Radio Frequency Identification Tags in Pavements

Project Information

Project ID: 
Project Status: 
Start Date: 
Thursday, September 14, 2006
End Date: 
Saturday, October 15, 2011
FHWA Program: 
FHWA Topics: 
Roads and Bridges--Construction and Project Management; Roads and Bridges--Pavement and Materials
TRT Terms: 
Construction; Hot mix Asphalt; Infrastructure; Materials Management; Pavement Management Systems; Pavements; Quality Assurance; Radio Frequency Identification; Research
FHWA Discipline: 
Construction and Project Management, Pavement and Materials
TRB Subject Area: 
Construction, Highways, Materials

Contact Information

First Name: 
Last Name: 
(202) 493-3154
Email Address: 
Infrastructure Analysis and Construction Team
Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Office Code: 

Project Details

Project Description: 

This project demonstrated how radio frequency identification tags can be used during hot-mix asphalt production to provide information during construction, as well as later, that is linked into a materials management system and a pavement management system. This project also explored the feasibility of linking the information through a geographic information system. Many agencies have materials management systems as part of their quality assurance programs, but find it difficult to pinpoint the exact location where specific materials have been placed. Also, the materials management system information is often not integrated with the agency's pavement management system, making it difficult to demonstrate the relationship between pavement performance and materials. Technology advancements have made it possible and cost effective to use radio frequency identification tags to store information onto devices that can be dropped into a load of hot-mix asphalt at the plant or during paving. These devices, when encased, appear to be sturdy enough to withstand the construction process, including compaction, such that during a project and afterwards, the tags can be scanned to provide information on the material origin. The use of radio frequency identification in hot-mix asphalt should improve the data availability and data security in an agency's quality assurance system. In addition, by being able to pinpoint materials back to specific truckloads, time of production, mix designs, binder source, etc., forensic evaluations will have greater access to information on the materials for specific locations of cores or where nondestructive testing may be conducted.  The project was awarded to the University of Maryland in September 2006. The University of Maryland has evaluated various radio frequency identification tag configurations and practical encapsulation options in the laboratory. The primary focus in the lab was on the thermal and mechanical survivability of encapsulated tags. They are also integrating the radio frequency identification tag identification with global positioning system coordinates to enable integration with a pavement management system. The project Principal Investigator (PI) worked with Maryland State Highway Administration to evaluate the most promising radio frequency identification tag configurations in field projects. Based on the laboratory and field evaluations, analysis and recommendations for the feasibility of this technology application was provided to Federal Highway Administration. Based on feedback received from stakeholders  demonstration of this application was expanded to concrete pavements, but with less favorable results. This project resulted in guidance and a case study on data integration for use by State agencies.


Construction and Material Quality Innovation

Project Findings: 

It is feasible to encase Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) (RFID) tags and pave them into an asphalt pavement. After construction, the tags could be read with a wireless reader traveling over the pavement at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.


Deliverable Name: 
Guidance document in the form of a research report
Deliverable Type: 
Research report or guidelines
Deliverable Description: 
The deliverable is a document that summarizes the project findings and provides examples and guidance on how agencies can apply this technology with their existing management systems.