Don’t get caught underinflated

by Sonia Straface

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Tom Brady may not be the only one with underinflation problems – you could too if you don’t have the Meritor Tire Inflation System (MTIS) by P.S.I. installed on your trailer tires.

That was the message given to attendees and customers at this year’s Annual Fleet Technology Event put on by Pressure Systems International (P.S.I.) and Meritor in San Antonio earlier this week.

The event focused on the popular MTIS, an automatic tire inflation system that is used to reinflate a punctured trailer tire as well as provide proper and uniform inflation for all tires to avoid underinflation while in motion. If continuous inflation is required, the system will alert the driver to check the tire, or seek out service.

It is currently the leading automatic tire inflation system in the North American market, and the company has shipped its product globally to 45 countries.

P.S.I. invented the first automatic tire inflation system 22 years ago, and partnered with Meritor back in 1999 (one year before Brady was drafted by the NFL’s New England Patriots, oddly enough).

Though automatic tire inflation systems were invented by P.S.I. more than two decades ago, that doesn’t mean the company isn’t working hard to update its technology and find better ways to inflate tires on the go.

“We’re continuously improving the product by reinventing the tire inflation system and every time we reinvent it, we reinvent it with one thought in mind – the KISS principle,” said Frank Sonzala, executive vice-president, P.S.I. “Keep It Simple, Safely. We never take it to the complicated side so you have difficulty installing it or understanding it.”

Nearly 90% of fleets using automatic tire inflation systems are using MTIS by P.S.I. in North America, he added.

Al Cohn, director of new market development and engineering support at P.S.I. explained to attendees during a presentation why maintaining tire inflation is important to fleets and drivers.

“Tires continue to be the number one maintenance cost for commercial fleets and fleets take tires very, very seriously,” he said. “Inflation pressure is an issue because it takes way too long to check 18 or more tires, you get dirty when you bend over to check the pressure. And inflation gauges are inaccurate. And trailer tires always have the worst tire pressure. In addition, the number one cause of road breakdowns is tires.”

Cohn added that it has been reported that 90% of tire problems are because of underinflation. MTIS, according to the company, solves the problem of underinflation by flowing air though the axle to the tire to constantly maintain perfect pressure to keep the tire at its intended psi.

“Underinflated tires leave a bigger footprint on the road, causing more wear and tear,” Cohn explained. Whereas a well-inflated tire has a smaller footprint, causing less wear and tear.  In addition, well-inflated tires have less of a chance of catching a nail or sharp object that could puncture the tire, because it is occupying less of the road, he added.

In addition to saving fleets money, the company said the system is so simple, it can be installed by almost anyone in under four hours – not just those who know about truck maintenance. The system can also be retrofitted on any axle and parts can be replaced quickly and easily.

Brock Ackerman, president of K&B Transportation, a refrigerated carrier said MTIS is the best investment his company has made in an optional piece of equipment for a tractor or trailer with respect to return on investment. He attended a similar event in 2011 hosted by the companies, and immediately made the decision to retrofit all 1,200 of his trailers with the system.

“Every trailer we’ve purchased since then has the system on it,” said Ackerman.

“(During the 2011 presentation) I was thinking about all the times we had a flat tire on a trailer at midnight and I had a delivery 400 miles away at 8 or 9 a.m,” he said.  “And now instead of waiting on a service truck to come out and charge me a lot of money and make my delivery late… the tire can just reinflate itself with MTIS.”

Ackerman added the nature of his company doesn’t allow for delays to be a regular or comfortable occurrence.

“All of the commodities we haul are perishables…so all our deliveries are time-sensitive and so late is just not acceptable and that’s where this product has really helped us,” he said, adding that K&B currently does deliveries to giants like Walmart and Costco. “

Ackerman said the system has increased his company’s uptime and productivity, as well as saved them a heap of money. He estimated that the system saved him around $58,000 per month since installation. K&B currently operates 1150 trailers, so with eight tires per trailer it has just over 9,000 trailer tires spinning everyday. He added that after installing MTIS his tire changes per month went from 562 to 375.

After the presentation, attendees that included customers, potential customers and industry journalists were invited to have a tour of the PSI plant in San Antonio, where the systems are made.

The plant is manned with 85 employees who work the assembly lines 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to put the tire systems together and get them shipped out to customers. All kits are quality controlled and checked several times to ensure the product is exact before reaching the customer.

You can learn more about MTIS here:

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