Gizmodo has an interesting tale out of the GM factory: they are now putting RFID tags in the bolts on assembly lines to make sure everything is fit together correctly.
Inside the head of GM’s “data bolt” is an RFID memory tag and a coiled antenna. The brainy bolts are installed on each engine block and cylinder head at the beginning of the machining process. Scanners check the bolts during nearly 50 separate machining processes, ensuring that previous steps were completed successfully and marking the current step as completed. If an RFID scanner detects a part that was improperly machined, it’s kicked off the assembly line for inspection.
Unfortunately, you won’t find these data bolts under the hood of your car — they’re removed once engine assembly is completed and re-used. Still, one can’t help but wonder if RFID-tagged fasteners will start appearing in hardware stores. Maybe someday, we’ll say “so-and-so is smart as a doornail.”