Michelin explores, markets tire pressure systems

In separate ventures with Honeywell and WABCO, respectively, Michelin North America is pursuing a second generation of its eTire tire pressure and asset monitoring system and is marketing a fully developed tire pressure monitoring system that has been available in Europe since 2003.

“Pressure maintenance and tire tracking continue to make the top of the wish list of most fleet maintenance managers,” said Marc Laferriere, vice president of marketing for Michelin Americas Truck Tires, in an announcement Thursday, Nov. 2, at the company’s Michelin Americas Research and Development Corp. (MARC) facilities in Greenville, S.C.

MARC and Honeywell Sensing and Control jointly developed and are test-marketing the eTire II, which is based on a new sensor patch applied to the interior of the tire’s sidewall. The new patch is small, lightweight and doesn’t require a battery. The sensor in the current eTire system, known as eTireHD, uses a larger battery-powered sensor that has a tendency to shear from its housing when the truck is driven at high speed for extended periods.

Other elements of the eTire II system are a redesigned handheld reader that can interrogate the patch via radio frequency; a more robust drive-by reader that retrieves the sensor information automatically; and the BibTrack Internet-based tracking software that allows the fleet to monitor its tire assets from multiple terminals.

The sensor patch — which now weighs less than half an ounce — contains two main components: an RFID module and a battery-free pressure/temperature sensor. It’s based on a new Surface Acoustic Wave.

Because the eTire II system depends on a local interrogation by either a drive-by or handheld reader, Michelin is aiming the system principally at urban and regional fleets where vehicles return to a central location every day or at least every couple of days.

For a long-haul tire pressure solution, Michelin teamed up with WABCO to introduce the Integrated Vehicle Tire Pressure Monitoring System, or IVTM, to the North American trucking industry.

The IVTM, which is designed specifically for commercial vehicles, continuously monitors tire pressure and can warn of improper pressure and slow leaks. The system warns drivers of problems by way of an in-cab display, which drivers also can query as they wish to check tire pressure. The IVTM also can be integrated into onboard telematics so that the fleet operation can learn of problems on a real-time basis.

The system consists of external wheel-mounted modules that are connected to the tire valves with pneumatic hoses. The modules regularly measure and transmit tire inflation pressure data via radio frequency to an electronic control unit, which in turn transmits them to a dash-mounted display. Dashboard-mounted displays feature visual and acoustic signals to warn drivers of abnormally low tire pressure, slow leaks and tire position. Once a potential problem is detected, the in-cab display monitor warning lamps also advise the driver of the appropriate corrective action.

Trailers are individually equipped with their own IVTM ECU that transmits tire inflation data by RF to any IVTM-equipped tractor to which they are coupled. IVTM also can be connected directly to the vehicle’s Controller Area Network (CAN) databus and integrate tire inflation and early warning information into a vehicle’s multifunctional dashboard display.

Michelin is marketing and handling the billing for IVTM for its customers; WABCO will ship the system, which can be installed by the fleet or a third-party installer.