Technology, through the use tire pressure monitoring and control systems, is helping to do away with these concerns. Some systems warn of low pressure. Others equalize air pressure for slow leaks. Still others help maintain air in a tire that is damaged, enabling the driver to get to a repair facility.
A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), basically, is an electronic system designed to continuously check the air pressure inside a tire. These systems report real-time tire pressure information to the driver of the vehicle in a variety of ways.
With recent advances in microchip technology, electronic tire pressure monitoring is now an affordable tool for both large and small fleet operations alike, and is an indispensable necessity for trucks or trailers with wide-based (super single) tires, says Richard Van Dyke, vice president, Fleet Specialties Co., Tire Sentry Div. "Both on-board and hand-held electronic tire pressure monitoring can be a particularly useful tool to support or enhance most any preventive maintenance program,"
There are tire pressure monitoring systems that can monitor tires when the vehicle is on the road, and also when stationary, which makes it possible to check tires for low pressure before leaving the yard and at the end of the day. An example is Tire Sentry Div.'s Yard Man - a hand-held receiver/display that enables low tire pressure to be automatically checked while the user walks by a truck equipped with electronic tire sensors (electronic valve caps).
Van Dyke says tire pressure monitoring systems provide a number of benefits. Among them:
• Frees maintenance and yard personnel for other tasks.
• Helps extend useful tire life.
• Helps reduce road service calls for tire problems.
• Helps increase fuel efficiency.
• Increases the efficiency of PM programs.
• Helps reduce overall tire and maintenance cost.
Fleet Specialties' Tire Sentry Div. was the first to introduce tire pressure monitoring systems designed specifically for the trucking and transportation markets.
Automating the tire pressure checking function reduces the need for manual pressure checks and increases the frequency and accuracy of pressure checks. That's because onboard tire pressure monitoring systems - such as the Doran 360, SmartWave, Pressure Pro, TireVigil, SmartTire and Tire Sentry - provide real-time alerts to low-pressure situations to the driver. This adds greater safety for the driver and vehicle by enabling drivers to get problems fixed as they occur, which helps avoid costly blowouts, tire-related road service calls and downtime.
Depending on the system, alerts are provided in a number of ways and for various conditions. Some systems tell the exact air pressure of each tire on an in-cab display, while some systems have a red light/green light display. Others provide an indication on the axle end when a tire problem is detected. Among TPMS features and capabilities: alerts when tire pressure is too low, alerts when tire pressure is too high, alerts with both visual and auditory warnings and monitoring both the vehicle and trailer.
"A typical truck TPMS can provide the driver with the current tire pressure in the cab either while sitting still or moving," notes Chris Nau, national sales manager, Doran Manufacturing. "Along with tire pressure readings, today's truck TPMS offer additional features such as audible and visual alerts when the tire pressure drops to unsafe levels, notification for high pressure or temperature, alert history or data logger and the ability to monitor trailer tires even in a drop-and-hook fleet."
Some systems, like TireVigil Pro, incorporate telematics to deliver tire-related information off the vehicle to dispatchers, maintenance personnel and fleet management. This gives them greater visibility of their fleet's tires, whether their vehicles are hundreds of miles away, rolling down the road or parked.
Earlier this year, Doran Manufacturing joined with DriverTech - a builder of onboard computer system for vehicles - to develop a product that forwards a low tire pressure alert received by the Doran 360 TPMS to dispatch and/or maintenance personnel. In September, PressurePro and Haas GPS announced their integrated TPMS/tracking solution - the new H1440. The unit combines traditional business tracking information such as location, engine on/off and speed violations, with automatic and on-demand real-time tire pressure alerts.
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