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Grip the road: Tyre safety for commercial vehicles

Tyres are of fundamental importance to road safety as they provide the only contact a vehicle has with the road. Basic checks such as making sure tyres are correctly inflated can make all the difference, as the pressurised air inside an HGV tyre has to support the weight of the vehicle and its load. Tyres must also be well maintained in order to keep the vehicle stable as it travels around corners, work in harmony with the vehicle’s main suspension system and help the vehicle accelerate and brake effectively.

Research by Continental Tyres shows that as many as one in four truck tyres may be running underinflated by 10%. This not only leads to significantly higher fuel costs – as under-inflation can increase fuel consumption by up to 3% – but also contributes to the likelihood of tyre failure, which is currently responsible for 20% of all truck breakdowns.

Continental Tyres and RoadSafetyUAE organised an event in December 2017 to show the German tyre manufacturer’s state-of-the-art technology ContiPressureCheck, which can use data from tyres to save even more lives as well as lower fleet costs.

Ian Jackson, Technical Systems, sales and services manager for Continental Tyre Group, explains how the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) uses an array of sensors to provide live pressure data and additional warnings at the point where there has been both a 10% and then 20% reduction in air pressure inside the tyre, notifying the driver of a problem.

“ContiPressureCheck allows for the safe resolution of a potential tyre incident, allowing the driver to stop at a service station or off the road before the situation becomes critical,” explains Jackson. “As tyre inflation pressure directly contributes to the vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency, providing the ability to constantly monitor this offers the operator the opportunity to reduce their fuel costs.”

In addition to inflation pressure, ContiPressureCheck also constantly measures tyre temperature. According to Jackson, the system looks for spikes in tyre temperatures as it can be an indicator of a failure which, if left untreated, could have costly or even dangerous consequences.

“Should spikes in temperature occur, which when investigated cannot be attributed to the tyres, this flags potential mechanical issues such as binding brake or wheel bearing failures,” he remarks.

According to Jackson, 90% of tyre related breakdowns are preceded by undetected punctures. He says: “Safety is, of course, the primary benefit as the system will pre-warn the driver of any temperature or inflation issues. Larger commercial vehicles obviously have quite a distance between where the driver is sitting and the tyres themselves, so it is important for them to be aware of the condition of their tyres.”

He continues: “The main benefit with ContiPressureCheck is that it is constantly transmitting live data, continually pre-empting any potential issues in real time.”

With thousands of tyres available, choosing the right tyre for a vehicle and individual driving needs can be quite a task.

“The key is educating consumers,” comments Luis Ceneviz, managing director – Latin America Tire Operations and Europe Tire Operations, Cooper Tires. “Drivers need to be informed about our products, the benefits they offer, and their performance. Often, consumers simply compare prices, but that does not represent the entire picture. It is up to us to help educate them about topics such as quality and performance as well as safety.

Luis Ceneviz, Cooper Tires

“One of the biggest challenges facing the tyre industry in the region is the import of counterfeit tyres, that are simply not suitable for the conditions in the region. This doesn’t just affect the reputation of the true brands, it affects safety on UAE roads. We are committed to ensuring that consumers are not negatively impacted by the counterfeit trade.”

The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) recently announced that it was introducing a smart chip system to prevent the use of fakes and monitor the integrity of tyres. It is an intelligent and sophisticated system – the UAE’s is the most advanced system of its type in the world.

Ceneviz further highlights Cooper Middle East’s website, designed to offer a seamless user experience. The website features extensive content including product pages, company information, and a dealer locator, all designed to ensure that customers have easy access to the most up-to-date product and dealer information. It includes a dealer locator tab which allows customers to find their local dealer from among the eight regional dealers that currently operate across five Middle East countries. The website also allows customers to source their perfect tyre, searching by size specification.

Ceneviz comments on the challenges of working in the Middle East: “The overall environment in the region is challenging. It is hot, and vehicles often travel at higher speeds, so we have to make sure we design products that can withstand these conditions. The legislative requirements are also unique here, which can present a challenge. Cooper continues to focus on developing products that work for the region.”

Bridgestone, a global tyre company based in Japan, recorded double-digit growth in overall sales volume in the Middle East and Africa, while Firestone, a Bridgestone family brand, saw a strong increase in demand across the region.

Mete Ekin, Bridgestone

Mete Ekin, regional managing director, Bridgestone Middle East and Africa, comments: “2017 presented a particular set of challenges to tyre manufacturers and other related segments. First of all, an increase in raw material prices has hampered the profitability of some brands. At the same time, we’ve seen an increase in the number of budget brands launching in the region, which increased the competitive pressure at that end of the market.

“We expanded our reach to Iran, which is a huge and growing market. Our sales volume also doubled in East Africa following a restructure, while double-digit growth was recorded in the Gulf, Levant and Egypt. Despite the challenges in the market however, Bridgestone’s commercial segment has shown significant growth in 2017 and more opportunities for growth remain in the market.”

Ekin believes that the influence of changes in Europe will also be felt in this region, especially those concerning sustainability, recycling and fuel efficiency. “We expect regional governments to take the initiative and increase regulations in these areas, particularly as a global trend for tyres that are both more efficient and manufactured in a sustainable way grows.”

Currently, Bridgestone is globally testing a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) for commercial drivers that would be implemented at truck parks. TPMS sensors will be installed on existing valves and receiver posts at the gates of the truck park, which record data on tyre pressure and temperature. When a TPMS-equipped vehicle drives through a gate with receiver posts, the same data is sent to Bridgestone’s fleet data server via a GSM network.

Truck tyre pressure can therefore be monitored in real time, and if the data is outside of prescribed limits, an email is sent to the fleet and service provider where action can be taken. Across an entire fleet travelling hundreds of miles a day, this one corrective action can have a significant impact on fuel consumption and emissions output.

WABCO Holdings, a provider of electronic braking, stability, suspension and transmission automation systems for heavy duty commercial vehicles, has introduced OptiTire, a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS). The TPM system allows vehicle builders to choose either external or internal wheel sensors for the tractor as well as for the trailer. Unlike an external sensor, an internal sensor also tracks the tyre’s temperature, which improves pressure monitoring accuracy. By adding temperature data, OptiTire enhances early leakage detection, which helps to improve vehicle maintenance and up-time. WABCO’s OptiTire system is easy to retrofit and increases fuel economy up to 2% and extends a tyre’s lifetime as OptiTire continuously supports keeping tyre pressure at recommended gauge on the widest range of commercial vehicles. In addition, WABCO’s OptiTire system is fully compatible with trailer telematics solutions, which depending on vehicle and system configuration, allow for direct communication between the driver, vehicle and fleet manager regarding a suite of real-time vehicle operating data.

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