The drive-by reader is designed to alert drivers to a pressure problem with at least one tire. Technicians can determine which tire or tires almost instantly through the Internet.
Michelin Americas Truck Tires last month introduced the eTire System, a commercial tire-monitoring program that allows users to track temperature-adjusted air pressure in each tractor and trailer tire using drive-by or handheld readers. The system, which is available through Michelin tire dealers, can be used to track any commercial tires, not just Michelins. The eTire System has more than two years of road testing and is commercially available now.
The system relies on a sensor attached to the inside of the tire on a sidewall-mounted SensorDock. The InTire Sensor, developed for Michelin by Texas Instruments Sensors and Controls, is a small battery-less device that is designed to stay attached to the tire through its entire life – even through retreadings. Because the sensor, which weighs less than an ounce, does not include a power source, it never needs to be replaced.
Wireless signals from drive-by or handheld readers activate the sensor, which records the air pressure and temperature at that moment and transmits that information, along with that tire’s unique identification number. Separate sensors identify the VINs for the tractor and trailer.
The system takes into account the difference between the tire’s temperature and ambient air temperature to calculate the tire’s “cold-equivalent pressure.” That’s important because tires that have traveled and heated up could appear to have normal air pressure when in fact they are underpressurized.
By driving slowly past a reader located, for example, at the entrance to a yard, a driver can determine by means of a signal light whether at least one of his tires is outside the air pressure tolerances determined by that fleet.
Simultaneously, the information from the drive-by reader is uploaded to an Internet server. By the time the driver can drive the truck across the yard to the shop, a fleet manager or technician can use Michelin’s Internet-based Bib Track software to determine which specific tire or tires on that truck have a pressure problem.
The software also generates historical reports that help fleet managers track tire costs over time – down to individual tires. The system also monitors inventory. All the data gathered by the sensors resides in a secure server in the Bib Track software, not in the InTire Sensor. That eliminates the danger of data loss if a tire is lost, stolen or damaged.
Because all data is gathered through the Internet, a fleet can review information obtained by drive-by readers at any of its terminals where it has installed readers – or by any eTire reader anywhere in North America. In addition to the drive-by readers, eTire sensors work with handheld devices fitted with antennas. Small fleets or owner-operators, could use these as a less-expensive alternative.
While cost will depend on individual configuration and dealer price, the total cost per unit should be under $30, says Randy Clark, Michelin’s vice president of marketing.