Adopting Tire Inflation Systems

Why are adoption rates for proven fuel-saving technologies so low? It looks like a classic case of stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.

December 2013, - Department

by Jim Park, Equipment Editor - Also by this author

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“Rather than just turning on a light alerting the drivers of a pending tire problem, now the system alerts a manager and they see the results immediately,” Zaroor says. “Every time they receive an alert, they know the system is saving them money.”

Zaroor says the telematics capability added to the functionality of the system as well, helping fleet managers track tires. Several products on the market now, including Tire Stamp, Pressure Pro, Bendix’s SmartWave system and others, can automatically populate tire management databases, which leads to a greater awareness of tire costs and potential savings offered by such systems.

Another of the past hurdles to TMPS was marrying sensors to receivers in drop-and-hook operations. Some systems required drivers to go through a process to connect the systems, but Zaroor says that problem has been largely overcome as well.

“Our system is fully automated and doesn’t require any button pushes when changing trailers,” he says. “It’s taken a little time to get it out there, but there are now solutions to what were once considered barriers.”   

While TPMS still needs someone to physically reinflate the tire, it takes the user much closer to solving the problem of inflation-related blowouts and downtime.

Roeth noted that private fleets and for-hire fleets handle the hands-on problem differently.

“We found that for-hire fleets prefer to take as much as possible off the drivers’ plates, whereas the private fleets seem to prefer to engage their drivers and keep them involved,” he says.

The next time you get a call from an ATIS or TPMS vendor, sit them down and really pick their brain. If they are doing their job, they will let the product sell itself. Don’t forget to pick that dollar up of the ground while you’re reaching for the dime. 

Balancing Compounds Won't Affect ATIS or TPMS

Fleets that worry about the fine granules in certain balancing compound affecting tire valves needn't worry; products like Equal come with a filtered valve core made of stainless steel screen to prevent any of the material from clogging the valve or preventing it from sealing properly.

Bob Fogal Jr., president and CEO of International Marketing Inc. (IMI), which manufactures Equal, says tires are assets that need to be managed, and fleets should be taking advantage of every tool at their disposal to get the best value from their tires.

"Aside from providing cradle to grave tire balance on every new tire, Equal provides vibration dampening inside the tire as well, which helps absorb some of the impact on the tread face as the tire rotates," he says. "We all know that as a tire wears it becomes more fuel efficient, so it's a shame to pull a tire prematurely because the tread has worn irregularly. Keeping tire and wheel assemblies properly balanced provides the maximum miles to take off, thus ensuring the more fuel economy from a tire when it's at it's most efficient."

Once the balancing compound is installed, it will continuously balance the tire, regardless of the tread condition, and that combined with tire pressure management or automatic inflations systems will help prolong tire life and ensure even wear down to the final few 32nds of an inch of tread.

ATIS for drive axles coming soon

Aperia Technologies says it will release its Halo Tire Inflator sometime in 2014.
Aperia Technologies says it will release its Halo Tire Inflator sometime in 2014.

For about a year now, convincing rumors have been circulating about automatic tire inflation systems for drive axles. We know that at least one supplier plans to launch next year. Others we are aware of have been more circumspect about launch dates, but they have products in the field on fleet trucks going through reliability testing.

Dana Holding Corp. offered a sneak peak at a new system in September 2012 at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover, Germany. Dana said then the system, optimized for line-haul tractors, was in the initial road-testing phase. Dana already offers a central tire inflation system for off-road vehicles.

A new supplier, Aperia Technologies, says it will release its Halo Tire Inflator sometime in 2014. Aperia describes Halo as a “bolt-on plug-and-play device that automatically maintains optimal tire pressure by taking advantage of a wheel’s rotational motion to generate pumping power to inflate tires.” It’s totally external and mounts to the axle hub much like a hub odometer.

CEO Josh Carter told HDT that the technology has been more than two years in development and is currently being piloted by several fleets that have logged almost 7 million miles with the device.

Aperia says Halo is a retrofit-capable inflation solution capable of serving both drive and trailer axles, and a simple switch out taking just minutes allows for off-truck maintenance.

“We fully expect it to pay for itself in less than a year and continue to deliver strong returns for many years after,” Carter says.

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