Passion and Perseverance Lead to Big Success

Nov. 11, 2015
It's taken years, but tire inflation systems are going mainstream in trucking

A million of anything is a lot. But a million of a technology that saves fuel is something to be celebrated.

I was lucky enough to be part of the celebration of the one-millionth Meritor Tire inflation System (MTIS) by P.S.I.

The evolution of tire inflation systems is interesting. When they first came out, way back in 1993, they were only available as an aftermarket option. The fleet had to make the effort to find the product and someone to install it or learn how to install it themselves as well as train its drivers on proper use. As more fleets started using the systems, truck makers started offering them as a factory option. Today trailer manufacturers are prepping axles to accept tire inflation systems making installation easier. Ultimately, I believe these systems will become a standard spec on new trucks and trailers.

But to get to that point has taken not only a lot of work but also a lot of faith. What struck me most at the celebration for the one millionth MTIS is the passion of the people involved in its success. They believed in the fuel efficiency benefits of the system even when many others did not see the value of it. But they kept talking about it, promoting it and touting the benefits for 23 long years. And while during that time more and more people jumped on the bandwagon, I imagine in the early days it tough being the voice in the wilderness.

I think the growth and acceptance of tire inflations systems is a microcosm of what happens with a lot of other fuel efficiency technologies. There are the early adopters who are hyper committed to improving their fuel efficiency. These pioneers pave the way and provide real world validation for new technologies. Then others seeing the success of these early adopters gradually start making investments until eventually there is widespread adoption.

Through our work we hope to speed up the adoption rate of these fuel saving technologies and we do it by providing unbiased information that is based in part on conversations with manufacturers, suppliers and fleets. In fact, we are holding another workshop on December 9 in Indianapolis. During the workshop, industry leaders will share their insights but we also have roundtable discussions on the technologies we are studying. In this case tractor aerodynamics and trailer aerodynamics.  We’ll also look at some technologies we’ve already issued Confidence Reports on like idle reduction, electronic engine parameters, automated transmissions, low rolling resistance tires, lightweighting, downspeeding and 6x2 axles

The event is being held in conjunction with the Automotive Research Center of Indianapolis and will feature some actual wind tunnel testing.

We hope you can join us to share your experiences and learn from what other industry leaders are doing.  In fact, P.S.I.’s Jim Sharkey will be on the panel, so you can ask him directly about what it takes to get to a million! 

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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