Tires Do the Talking
Fleet-management systems have generally involved a device placed into a vehicle or connected to the dashboard. Now one tire company is putting technology into fleet vehicles’ tires to monitor the status of these vital components.
A commercial truck’s tires are probably replaced more frequently than any other part of the vehicle. As fleets rack up lots of miles on the road, tires need to stay in good condition to ensure optimum fuel efficiency. Michelin, www.michelin.co.uk, is working to introduce a new brand of what it calls “communicating tires.” These tires will combine RFID (radio-frequency identification) with TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) to provide a complete picture of a tire’s condition.
Michelin will place RFID chips in tires for commercial fleets to communicate data including tire pressure and temperature. The chips will also allow customers to trace tires throughout a fleet as they move from one vehicle to another. Michelin will build an RFID chip and antennae assembly into the Michelin X InCity tire casing. The chip will work in conjunction with a separate wheel rim-mounted TPMS.
Altogether, the system will identify data about the tire including pressure, temperature, and serial number. The RFID chips are read with a probe, which provides an electronic link between the tire and a data processing system, with all information downloaded into a handheld unit.
According to Michelin, an advantage of the RFID system is that the chip cannot be worn off or lost because it’s embedded into the tire. No batteries are required because the chip is powered by the reader as it collects data, a process known as passive RFID. Additionally, tire inspections can be conducted more quickly than with a manual process, and there is less risk of error.
Right now, Michelin’s new tire system is being launched for a fleet of 100 double-decker buses in London. The company says it hopes to branch out from this first implementation to a wider customer base, including bus, coach, truck, and trailer tires.
By allowing tires to communicate, Michelin is adding value to an important fleet component. Perhaps one day the tire monitoring system could integrate with a complete fleet-management system to provide a comprehensive view of the vehicle. No doubt it won’t be long before that day arrives.