Tire pressure monitoring systems give instant visibility to drivers, managers
By Aaron Huff
Maximizing tire life and improving fuel economy are pressing issues for fleet maintenance managers. Using technology to monitor tire pressure continuously can assist in both efforts.
A number of fleets use automatic tire inflation systems to keep tire pressure constant. These systems also can alert drivers and fleet managers – via integration with onboard computing systems – to fast leaks and other problems that require immediate attention.
When integrated with the Meritor Tire Inflation System by P.S.I., Qualcomm’s Trailer Tracks Series provides trailer management capabilities that allow customers to pinpoint tire pressure problems before an on-road incident occurs. Customers receive an automatic alert indicating that the tire pressure threshold has been breached.
By comparison, tire pressure monitoring systems are more economical and easier to install, but they require human intervention to correct problems with tire pressure. These systems come in many varieties and fit a wide scope of user requirements, but even the most advanced TPMS can be purchased for about $1,000. Once installed, they can operate maintenance-free for the entire trade cycle of equipment, normally three to five years.
All TPMS use sensors mounted on the wheel stem or valve cap. The durability and functionality of these sensors are key considerations when choosing a TPMS.
A unique feature of the TireStat system from Mobile Awareness is a sensor with a “flow-through” design that allows the user to add or deplete air without removing the sensor. With this design, users can mount the sensor with thread locking compound to ensure an airtight seal to prevent leaks and theft.
Some sensors are designed to flash an LED when air pressure drops below a set point. Others are equipped with wireless RF communications to feed information to in-cab driver displays and portable devices.
Stemco’s BatRF family of tire pressure monitoring products offers several types of configurations. A wheel-mounted sensor flashes when a tire is underinflated, and its AirBat RF product line includes a driver alert system with an in-cab display and a handheld reader that a technician could use to monitor tire pressures.
Stemco recently added a new feature to its AirBat RF handheld called “low tire log.” The information shows, to the hour, how long the tire has been underinflated. With this information, a technician can diagnose the cause of an underinflated tire. If the tire has been low for an extended period, pressure probably has been leaking out at the normal rate of 2 psi per month.
Some TPMS suppliers have created in-cab displays with a full vehicle schematic for each tire position, giving location and pressure data for all tires. For systems that use sensors with RF technology, these displays can be portable and work the same both inside and outside the vehicle.
Also of Interest »