Michelin offers tire monitoring solutions for regional and long-distance fleets

by James Menzies

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Michelin has revamped its eTire tire management system thanks to a new partnership with Honeywell.

The eTire II system features Michelin’s second generation sensor patch which is lighter and more durable than its predecessor, the company says.

The sensor, which weighs less than half an ounce, is placed inside the tire wall. Detailed information about the tire can be viewed when the tire is scanned by either a drive-by or handheld reader.

“Pressure maintenance and tire tracking continue to make the top of the wish list of most fleet maintenance managers,” points out Mac Laferriere, vice-president of marketing for Michelin Americas Truck Tires. “The ability to offer accurate, temperature-compensated, automatic pressure measurement is what we are seeking to attain.”

The system is able to identify slow leaks, which can be repaired before the tire bursts while away from the terminal. The eTire II system is ideal for regional and urban applications where the truck returns to its home terminal on a regular basis.

The drive-by or handheld reader captures pertinent data about the tire, which is displayed on Internet-based tracking software called BibTrack. Fleets can track their tire performance from multiple terminals.

The advantages of the new sensor include: It’s battery-free and wireless and uses no power making it more reliable and maintenance-free; the sensor is smaller and lighter so it doesn’t affect wheel balance; and it’s reliable and fast, delivering accurate information from the inside of the tire, the company says. Readings can be obtained from inside the tire, so there’s no risk of releasing air from the tire, points out George O’Brien, electronics research developer with Michelin.

“The work done by our research center and Honeywell is very impressive,” says Laferriere. “We are now ready to start limited production and test for market acceptance.”

For fleets that run long-distance and operate trucks that are on the road for long periods of time, Michelin and WABCO offer an alternative solution. The two companies will jointly market an Integrated Vehicle Tire Pressure Monitoring (IVTM) system which alerts drivers to under- or over-inflated tires.

It’s up to the driver to take action and adjust the tire pressures accordingly.

Michelin officials point out tire failures account for about 26% of vehicle failures and 85% of those start off as slow leaks. The IVTM system detects slow leaks, and according to Michelin’s field testing, it can result in savings of $900-$1,500 per truck each year.

The system consists of external wheel-mounted modules that are connected to the tire valves with pneumatic hoses. They continuously read tire pressures and transmit inflation levels to an electronic control module. A dash-mounted display warns a driver about any improperly inflated tires.

The system works on both tractors and trailers. If a truck is coupled with a new trailer, the display will pick up the tire pressures for the new trailer.

In addition to reducing roadside service calls, Michelin officials say their IVTM system can improve fuel mileage. Fuel consumption increases by 2% for every 20% of underinflation.

Tire life also takes a 20% hit when the tire is 20% underinflated, resulting in a higher cost-per-mile for fleets.

Michelin predicts fleets will realize a payback time of just over a year, based on actual fleet examples. It costs about US$1,100 to equip a 10-wheel tractor-trailer combination with the system, Michelin officials say.

Michelin’s IVTM system is available in the US now and will be in Canada soon.

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