After more than six billion kilometres of testing involving 50,000 tyres over seven years, Michelin is taking the first steps to combine the introduction of a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in tyres for large commercial vehicle fleets.
The company believes its new ‘communicating’ tyres not only make it possible to obtain tyre pressure and temperature data easily, they will ensure flawless traceability of bus, coach, truck and trailer tyres throughout multiple lives in service.
This new generation of tyres is currently being introduced across a fleet of 100 double-decker buses operated by Stagecoach in London, which is the first major European customer for this new technology.
Michelin is confident its innovation points the way to new methods of managing tyres, and hopes more commercial vehicle fleets will benefit soon.
At the heart of the development is an RFID chip and antennae assembly, weighing 0.2 grams and 5cm long, which is built into the Michelin X InCity tyre casing.
In conjunction with a separate wheelrim-mounted TPMS, the chip enables key data including the tyre pressure, temperature and the serial number of the tyre to be identified using an easy-to-use probe that can also record tread depths.
The probe provides an electronic link between the tyre and a data processing system, with all information quickly downloaded into a handheld PDA unit.
The RFID chip needs no battery as it is powered by the electromagnetic waves given off during data collection.
Chip lifespan is considerably longer than that of the tyre, and it is uniquely designed to survive Michelin’s Remix remoulding process, enabling the same sensor to be used in all stages of Michelin’s Four Lives offer.
Furthermore, the chip cannot be worn off or lost, as a bar code label can, because it is embedded in the tyre’s construction.
“This new technology allows a technician to gather complete, extremely accurate tyre information in significantly less time than via a manual inspection,” Bill Schafer, commercial director of Michelin’s Truck and Bus division in the UK said.
“It also makes pressure checks safer; and since the valve is not opened, there is no loss of air.
“The increased speed of these checks will help fleets ensure their tyres remain in optimum condition for longer.
“This brings multiple benefits, since tyres maintained at the correct pressure last longer and improve fuel efficiency, which in turn reduces CO2 emissions.”
Michelin estimates that a tyre inflated to 1 bar less than the recommended pressure increases fuel consumption by up to 0.4 litres per 100km. Tyres inflated 10% below the recommended level experience a 15% reduction in tyre life, whilst 30% underinflation reduces tyre life by 5%.
Studies of fleet operations also show that 75% of tyre-related incidents are due to slow air leaks.
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