FMCSA Fleet Field Tests Show Promise for ATIS, TPMS

February 23, 2011

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A 12-month fleet field test conducted by FMCSA shows tire pressure monitoring and automatic tire inflation systems can influence tire maintenance intervals and improve performance and safety.

The results were revealed during the Technology and Maintenance Council Annual Meeting in Tampa.

Data was collected from two fleet operations, Sheetz and Gordon Food Services, outfitted with the Meritor Tire Inflation System by PSI, the Tire SafeGuard Monitoring System from HCI Corporation, and Integrated Vehicle Tire Monitoring System from Wabco.

Starting with five hypotheses FMCSA aimed to prove or disprove the effectiveness of the tire pressure maintenance systems:

* Hypothesis 1 - TPMS or ATIS use will increase the life of equipped tires. FMCSA observation: GFS tire wear data points toward increased tire life.

* Hypothesis 2 - TPMS or ATIS use will improve fuel economy of equipped tractor-trailers.
FMCSA observation: Fleets saw a 1.4 percent improvement in fuel economy.

* Hypothesis 3 - TPMS or ATIS use will reduce road calls for damaged/flat tires of equipped tractor-trailers.
FMCSA observation: Test fleets experience fewer road calls.

Hypothesis 4 - TPMS or ATIS correctly measures the tire pressure of equipped tractor-trailers.
FMCSA observation: Minor issues were identified in each fleet.

* Hypothesis 5 - TPMS or ATIS use will not introduce unscheduled maintenance that adversely affects day-to-day fleet operations.
FMCSA observation: Technicians did not report altered work habits due to TPMS equipment.

A roundtable discussion focusing on tire inflation pressure technologies followed the presentation of the findings as part of the S.2 Tire and Wheel Study Group. It was moderated by Al Cohn, director of new market development and engineering support for Pressure Systems International.

"We organized the session because improper inflation is a significant contributing factor to the number one maintenance cost for fleets - tires," Cohn stated in his opening remarks. "Increasing government regulations with CSA, California CARB, SmartWay, CAFE standards and the TREAD Act are also playing an important role."

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