New technology launched to tackle tyre under-inflation in fleets

Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 09:16
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UK technology company Wheely-Safe has launched a new easy-to-fit tyre pressure management system (TPMS) for car, van, minibus, plant and trailer operators designed to make it simple for both drivers and fleet managers to keep on top of tyre pressures.

The company claims its first fleet-focused product, Wheely-Safe Light, is the industry’s answer to the 60 per cent of UK motorists* routinely driving on under-inflated tyres, half of which are dangerously under-inflated by more than 8psi.

Tyre under-inflation is a global issue which increases fuel bills, CO2 emissions and stopping distances, makes a vehicle’s steering less precise and leads to a higher risk of aquaplaning. It also reduces a tyre’s endurance capabilities, increasing tread wear and making it more prone to damage and possible rapid deflation.

Wheely-Safe Light – a licenced Michelin product – is an intuitive, low cost, and extremely effective retrofit system suitable for use on tyres with pressures from 22 – 86 psi. It comprises a set of robust TPMS sensors which replace the traditional valve caps and auto-pair with a small solar-powered windscreen display to alert the driver of any tyres in distress through loss of pressure, fast leakage or an increase in temperature – often the sign of an impending tyre blowout.

It also includes a contactless tyre pressure checker which, when held next to the sensor, displays the exact pressure via the digital readout – without the hassle of connecting a pressure gauge to the valve, which removes air and is unhygienic.

Steve Jackson, Managing Director of Wheely-Safe, says: “This is the perfect system for fleets as there are no batteries to change in the sensor or display unit, no cables to route and no complicated set-up. It’s literally plug-and-play and can be fitted by anyone in just a few minutes – with options available for linking it to on-board telematics systems.

“Our patented ‘search and assign’ technology also means you can hook up to a trailer with our sensors fitted, and move sensors between different wheel positions, without any reprogramming required. The sensors can also be fitted to vehicles with different tyre pressures on different axles.”

To-date aftermarket TPMS technology has mostly proven too expensive, bulky or complicated to catch-on, and many original equipment systems in modern vehicles can be slow to notify of a pressure leak and often only alert drivers to losses of more than 25 per cent. They also lack a simple method of routinely checking pressures without getting your hands dirty and losing air from the tyre.

Jackson adds: “Wheely-Safe Light provides instant driver alerts as soon as a tyre is under-inflated by 15 per cent, plus we’ve made it quick and easy to routinely check pressures in just a few seconds. This takes the hassle out of pressure maintenance for fleets, and supports road safety, duty of care and the environment – with the potential for fleets to unlock healthy commercial returns.”

The display unit provides early low-pressure warnings via a flashing icon every 20 seconds if a tyre becomes under-inflated. An audible alert is added when the pressure either drops by 25 per cent, or should the tyre be over-inflated by 35 per cent or more. For fast leakage (at least 2 psi per minute), all icons flash in addition to a beeping alarm, alerting the driver to pull over. A flashing light on the relevant TPMS sensor will then indicate the affected tyre position, allowing the tyre to be re-inflated. Once completed, the receiver reverts to reporting mode.

A Wheely-Safe Light kit with four TPMS sensors is priced less than the cost of a typical fleet tyre and the system can monitor up to 12 tyres per journey. Additional TPMS sensors can be purchased individually, for light commercials with twin rear wheels or for use on trailers. The system comes with a 12-month warranty.

Wheely-Safe is an official global licensee of Michelin and will launch a combined TPMS and early-warning wheel loss sensor for heavy commercials later this year.

Fact panel: How tyres can affect safety & cost

  • A tyre which is 20 per cent under-inflated will typically return 20 per cent less mileage before needing to be replaced. That means a loss of 5,000 miles on a tyre which offers a potential mileage of 25,000 miles.
  • Tyres under-inflated by 15 psi lead to around 6% greater fuel consumption.
  • Driving on under-inflated tyres reduces longevity, leading to deterioration that can result in a rapid deflation. 7 psi or more is classed as dangerous under-inflation.
  • With under-inflated tyres, steering is less precise. If a bend can be taken at 62 mph at a tyre pressure of 29 psi, this drops to 54 mph at 15 psi.
  • If tyre pressures are 30 per cent below the recommended pressures, there is a sharp increase in the risk of aquaplaning.
  • Typical braking distances from 56 mph to 43 mph are 40m at 29 psi, and 5m longer at 15 psi

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