An easier way to gauge tires

by Katy de Vries

WINNIPEG, Man. – Trying to wipe away layers of accumulated slush and grime on a tire gauge in order to jot down an accurate mileage or tire pressure reading is not the most enjoyable part of a driver’s day – especially during the winter months.

Stemco, however, has recently launched a system of products that go a long way towards not only combating this headache for drivers but simplifying maintenance schedules in the shop as well.

BAT RF products are designed to function independently or in conjunction with each other, said Bill Power, Canadian sales manager for Stemco.

The AirBAT tire pressure monitor provides instant visual readings of tire pressure and can transfer this data via radio frequency to a handheld reader called HandBAT.

The TracBAT is an electronic wheel end-mounted mileage counter also capable of communicating vehicle mileage data wirelessly through radio frequency channels to the HandBAT reader.

“Knowing your tire pressure is one thing but if you are judging how long these tires last, you also need to have an accurate mileage reading, so we are monitoring tire pressure and linking that with the life of the tires,” said Power.

When Stemco wanted to test its products in a cold winter climate, company officials thought Winnipeg, Man.-based Bison Transport would be an ideal candidate. So Bison has had BAT RF series components on a few tractors and trailers since December 2004.

And according to Bison maintenance director Itamar Levine, the components are doing the job.

“We had a truck come in last week that had the system on it and everything looked good. I walked by and the little light was flashing, which is supposed to indicate a tire pressure issue and sure enough we double-checked it and the tire was low on air. So it seems to be working well,” said Levine.

“The concept of this product is great. It’s user-friendly and to be able to monitor these things quickly and easily would be welcomed to our shop,” he added. “We’ll need some more time yet to figure out other variables like maintenance, reliability or cost, but so far it looks promising.”

The system eliminates the opportunity for human error, said Power.

The HandBAT will hold up to 400 readings, which can be downloaded to the Microsoft Access DataBAT software.

Each unit has a serial number and that number is linked to a number in the computer software greatly reducing the risk of inaccurate data entry and saving time.

In fact the software will actually track recurring issues with tires and will alert maintenance personnel to the problems.

If the system spots a pattern, such as low air on the inner rear tire every time a truck comes in the lot, it will notify the user that there is a slow leak in that tire, said Power.

“The system almost acts as an electronic logbook. Since each reading is accurate and records the time and date, it keeps track of that critical data and can help maintain company records for things like fuel taxes as well,” said Power.

Each component is easily installed and can be removed and attached to an alternate unit with ease, said Power. The HandBAT enables the AirBAT to be recalibrated accommodating different types and weights of loads in the marketplace.

The BAT RF series can also play a role in public safety since maintaining the proper air pressure in tires significantly reduces the number of tire blowouts. This too can ultimately lead to financial savings.

“We will do return on investment reports with customers and show them where their money is going,” said Power.

The information varies with each user but all fuel economy information is linked to the numbers put out by TMC and this is how Stemco will gauge a customer’s return on investment.

Currently, the TracBAT can be purchased to fit all wheel ends and the AirBAT is available for dual tires, and reads the pressure of both the outer tire and the harder-to-reach inner tire. In time, Stemco will begin to manufacture a similar unit for single tires.

Speaking of BAT RF series developments, Stemco’s next venture will be to launch a gate reader that is completely compatible with the rest of the BAT RF system.

“Down the road, the gate reader will eliminate the need for someone to travel the yard in a golf cart reading each individual unit with the HandBAT.

“Instead the data will be hard wired to the computer as soon as the truck comes into the lot and can essentially be downloaded to the computer before the driver gets out of the truck,” said Power. For more information, visit or call 1-800-527-8492.

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