Underinflated tires on commercial vehicles decrease fuel efficiency; increase downtime, maintenance and replacement tire costs; and reduce safety,” says Josh Carter, CEO and co-founder of Aperia, producer of the Halo Tire Inflator, a self-powered, bolt-on inflation technology for drive and trailer axles on trucks, tractors and trailers. “Automatic tire inflation technology has been proven to deliver optimal pressure maintenance.”
By employing tire inflation optimization practices, Carter points out that tread and casing life is improved and fuel economy improvements are possible. Fleets, he notes, can reference studies done to correlate severity of underinflation to a percentage reduction in miles per gallon.
Research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that maintaining proper tire pressure results in a 1% to 2% fuel efficiency increase. Carter adds that underinflated tires are cited as the cause of one blowout per tractor-trailer per year, and that, according to FMCSA, underinflated tires increase costs 10% to 15%.
John Morgan, senior product manager of trailer products, says the Meritor Tire Inflation System (MTIS by P.S.I.) offers reduced tire wear, increased fuel economy, and fewer tire-related service calls. Also available is ThermALERT, Meritor’s wheel-end heat-sensing technology, which provides early warning of abnormally high wheel-end temperatures caused by wheel bearing, seal or other internal wheel-end problems.
The Hendrickson TireMaax Pro tire inflation system has been specifically designed to manage tires that are both under- and overinflated, explains Matt Wilson, business unit director of controls, Hendrickson Trailer Commercial Vehicle Systems. “The system is able to respond to changes in ambient air temperature,” he explains. “When a vehicle is exposed to large swings in temperature ... the potential exists for tires to end up significantly above the desired target pressure, so TireMaax Pro will maintain the target pressure regardless of changes in ambient temperature.”
Dana has introduced a tire pressure management technology for linehaul tractors. The fully integrated, electronically controlled internal axle system is currently undergoing road testing on drive and steer axles. The company’s tire pressure management technology for linehaul vehicles automatically initiates periodic system and pressure checks while driving, inflates tires to the optimum pressure as needed, and can also equalize pressure in all tractor tires.
Daniel J. Harding, senior product engineer for Stemco, notes that the latest enhancement to the company’s Aeris automatic tire inflation system is a trailer-nose-mounted display called SmartSense that visually identifies which wheel end is leaking and includes an additional visual indication for wheel ends that frequently require filling. SmartSense’s zero power display information remains visible for repair personnel even when the trailer is untethered.
Beginning later this year, the SmarTire tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) from Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems will be released as a factory-installed option on Freightliner Cascadia and Cascadia Evolution models. The system, which is also sold as an aftermarket kit for retrofit on almost any commercial vehicle, joins the Bendix SmarTire solution for trailers in the company’s product line.
“We are also enhancing the serviceability of the SmarTire system,” says Jon Intagliata, product manager of TPMS and trailer electronics at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems. “New options will allow for sensor programming without the need to use a separate diagnostic tool because each wheel-mounted sensor will come with a rim label mounted externally near the valve stem with the sensor’s unique ID code printed on it. Another option when using the Bendix display will be the ability to program a sensor to simply remove 5 psi of air from the tire.”
System manufacturers point out that fleets can easily calculate savings. Online calculators that estimate ROI can account for a range of variables, including vehicle configuration, mileage, fuel economy, price of fuel, and number and cost of tires and tire-related service calls.