Arsenault touts new approach to automated fleet tire management

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Arsenault Associates on Monday, Nov. 26, introduced Dossier Tire Management System, which it says is a first for the fleet industry. The system takes a new approach in automating tire data collection and reporting to enable fleets to control their tire expense and reduce equipment downtime due to tire-related issues, the company says.

Arsenault Associates develops, distributes and supports Dossier maintenance management software. Dossier Tire Management, which works with Dossier, is the first commercial fleet tire management system to apply an affordable and practical automated technology solution for managing all tires regardless of brand, the company says.

Most tire tracking systems require a huge amount of manual data collection and data entry. Some are limited to specific tire brands, many are designed for tire dealers rather than for fleet use, or they simply cost too much for most fleet budgets. The Dossier Tire Management System automates tire data collection and reporting using new wireless tire technology tools and tire identification technology solutions that identify and report tires with severe operational issues without the need for data entry, according to the company.

Arsenault says the system answers the most important tire management questions, including:

  • How many tires do I have?
  • Where are my tires?
  • Which tires have chronic underinflation problems?
  • What type of tires do I have, and what is their condition?
  • What are my tire operating statistics (miles or hours run, 32nds use, miles or hours per 32nd tread, number of recaps, etc.)?
  • Which tires have reached the minimum tread depth for recapping?
  • Which tires operate most efficiently for each category of vehicles or equipment in my fleet?
  • Which tires need to be reordered?
  • Which tires are still at the vendors, why, and what casing credits do I have?
  • What are my total tire costs and the cost per mile or hour by vehicle, by category of equipment and by fleet?
  • “Tire management poses a real challenge for fleet maintenance professionals,” says Charles Arsenault, chief executive officer of Burlington, N.J.-based Arsenault Associates. “The problem has been that the cost and manpower necessary to collect the enormous amount of tire data necessary to manage tires has equaled or surpassed the savings derived from the effort. That marginalizes the value of a manual tire management program.”

    Dossier Tire Management solves these problems by enabling automated data collection in various degrees of detail according to each fleet’s individual needs, but always within the framework of a real bottom-line result, Arsenault says. The Dossier Tire Management system, first demonstrated at the Dossier User Group in Atlantic City, is engineered to generate the greatest benefit in the fewest possible data collection man-hours.

    The fully automated solution includes a new handheld tread depth and air pressure device called Dossier Tire Probe. That device communicates wirelessly with a PDA that runs Pocket Dossier, the mobile version of the Dossier fleet maintenance system. Each tire is identified by affixing an inexpensive barcoded rubber tag that can incorporate an RFID chip. Variations of the Dossier tire ID technology are available to meet a fleet’s needs.

    To check tires in the fleet yard, shop or anywhere, the tire mechanic scans the vehicle’s barcode with the Pocket Dossier PDA to display data about the truck and its tires. After scanning a particular tire, he uses Dossier Tire Probe to electronically measure the air pressure and tread depth, which is wirelessly transmitted to Pocket Dossier worn on the mechanic’s belt. Pocket Dossier wirelessly transmits all of the tire data wirelessly in real time to the computer housed in the shop and running the full Dossier software system.

    The tire mechanic does not key in any information; still the system identifies each tire, and knows its current location on the truck and its proper air pressure and tread depth levels, the company says; it automatically alerts the mechanic with an audible sound and warning screen if a tire is at or below its low air pressure or minimum tread depth level. If any other issue is found with a tire, the mechanic can open and generate a repair order or work-pending issue on the spot, in real time, and it will appear on the computer screen back in the shop, according to Arsenault.

    The Dossier Tire Management System is flexible and allows a fleet to configure it for their needs, Arsenault says; a fleet manager can decide how much or how little of the system to use, what level of automated tire technology he wants to deploy, and when.

    “The promise of self-managing tires with built-in wireless sensors and the ability to wirelessly transmit the data in real time is the Holy Grail of tire management,” Arsenault says. “But currently it remains elusive in an affordable form for most fleets. Meanwhile, the cost of tires continues to escalate, and fleets need to manage their large investment in tires now. The Dossier Tire Management does the job and does it well.”

    Beta testing is under way, with select fleets around the nation in various industries including trucking, busing, private carriage fleets and port side marine operations. Testing is expected to be completed by year’s end, at which time the results will be made public. According to Arsenault, the Dossier Tire Management solution will be available commercially in early 2008.