SAF-Holland took advantage of the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta to formally introduce its new CEO Kent Jones, a industry veteran with more than 25 years’ experience in the trucking industry.
The company also launched a new, “intelligent” tire pressure management system called Smar-te (“Smart”) which Jones called an significant “evolution” in TPMS technology. The system does more than just monitor tires and issue alerts when there is a drop in pressure. The system is also an automatic tire inflation system.
Jones noted that tire pressure management is critical to a fleet’s efficient operation. Tires are the second-highest vehicle operating expense and improper tire pressure causes 80% of premature tire failures. Proper tire pressure is critical to tire life and yet according to SAF-Holland, 66% of fleets have tires operating at more than 5 PSI from the proper setting and 22% have at least one tire more than 20 PSI from the proper setting. ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council’s Future Tire Durability and Reliability Task Force issued a position paper in December, 2018, highlighting the need to improve trailer tire inflation systems to include the ability to dynamically change tire pressure based on trailer axle load.
To help fleets better manage the tricky task of tire inflation, SAF-Holland has partnered with electro-pneumatic controls provider AKTV8 LLC, combining that tech company’s patented control systems with SAF’s Tire Pilot Plus wheel ends to deliver Smar-te Tire Pilot. This new take in TPMS uses the trailer’s own air suspension system data to:
- Inflate, deflate, and equalize all tires to ensure tires wear evenly
- Optimize tire pressure based on axle load to maximize tire sidewall and tread life
- Fast, accurate tire pressure control, no regulators to wear out or recalibrate
- Smart-Alerts provide real system status; no more nuisance alerts
- On-board scale with overload alert features reduces citation potential, improves
- CSA scoring
- Improve cushioning of both the vehicle and cargo, especially when lightly loaded
- Reduce tire and vehicle maintenance, ease of service and troubleshooting
- Enhance fuel economy and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions
The key to Smar-te Tire Pilot, Jones said, is the incorporation of AKTV8’s iAir electro-pneumatic control module with integrated solenoid valves and sensors to dynamically measure and adjust tire pressure based on trailer axle load.
The Smart-Alert diagnostic LED light warns of minor tire leaks, severe leaks, and overload conditions. Bluetooth and CAN connectivity allow enhanced configurability and serviceability, with optional telemetry integration.
Unlike traditional mechanical tire inflation systems, Jones said, Smar-te Tire Pilot requires no maintenance or calibration. The ability to more accurately control the proper tire air pressure per the tire manufacturer’s load and inflation standards reduces tire stress, resulting in optimized tire tread and casing life and reduced rolling resistance.
Jones said he feels Smar-te Tire Pilot could revolutionize tire inflation by providing automatic adjustment of tire pressure based on trailer axle loads at a price point that makes sense for North American fleet operations.