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It’s safe to say that the number-one maintenance issue facing fleets today is tire inflation maintenance. You may be thinking we’ve always had that problem, but today, poor pressure maintenance hurts truck operators more than it ever has.
The cost of tires has skyrocketed since 2005, the price of fuel has reached record heights and the federal government’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) safety rating program has made it prohibitively expensive to run poorly maintained tires.
The world certainly has changed since the 1980s and 1990s when the first commercial truck tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) debuted in the marketplace. None of them were widely adopted due to their poor returns on investment, their system limitations and fleets’ disinterest in spending money to maintain tire pressures.
These truck tire pressure monitoring systems, what I call TPMS 1.0 systems, focused on delivering information to the truck driver only. While great for owner operators who care about their investment in tires, fleets don’t benefit as much since company drivers typically don’t share that interest.
However, for years, fleets have been hoping that some day in the future the “tire tag” or some other evolved “smart tire” system would not only provide them with pressure and temperature information, but would enable them to track their tires, as well as tire mileage, so they could obtain tire management tools that would help them determine the best tires to buy, improve their tire maintenance and casing management, and really cut their tire cost per mile.
The good news is the future has finally arrived with the second generation of TPMS: TPMS 2.0. The real power of TPMS 2.0 is in delivering tire alerts and reports to people who care about tires. That’s what these systems do by integrating electronic TPMS with telematics and GPS.
Telematics is the communication of system and location data off a vehicle using satellite, cellular, WiFi or other wireless technologies.
The growth of telematics has been phenomenal and will continue to be driven largely in the next five years by demand for remote vehicle diagnostics.
TPMS 2.0 is remote vehicle diagnostics for tires since it provides the fleet with visibility of tire problems 24/7, even if the vehicle is hundreds of miles away.
A major difference between TPMS 1.0 and 2.0 systems is that 2.0 systems send the data off the vehicle to a database which accumulates, stores and analyzes it. This enables the user to look at one specific tire, all the tires on a vehicle, all the tires on a group of vehicles or all the tires in the whole fleet.
Imagine doing an entire fleet tire pressure survey with a click of a mouse instead of days of deep knee bends manually checking tire pressures.
TPMS 1.0 systems pale in comparison since they can only report the data for one tire at a time.
After analyzing the data and comparing it to fleet established alert thresholds, TPMS 2.0 systems send alerts to anyone the fleet designates with Internet connectivity (computers, smartphones, etc.), including tire service providers.
Changes in target pressure or alert thresholds can be made “over-the-air” while the vehicle is on the road. You don’t have to touch the vehicle to make changes.
One of the big problems with outsourced and emergency tire service is that you are never sure if the work was needed, if it was performed to your standards or was done at all. So, when the invoice arrives, you have to track the vehicle down and physically check the tires on it.
With TPMS 2.0 systems, you can verify that service was needed and performed, and that the quality of the service meets your standards - all from the comfort of your desk.
Because tire data is stored in a database, useful tire maintenance and management reports can be scheduled to be delivered to you whenever you want them. For example, work orders can be sent to technicians in the early morning that list all the tires on vehicles at a particular location that need service before the drivers arrive.
Four potential issues