LAS VEGAS-Bridgestone/Firestone Off Road Tire Co. (BFOR) is field testing an active computer chip system that could help mining and construction companies save thousands of dollars through better tire maintenance. The company debuted the product at MINExpo 1996 in Las Vegas, Sept. 9, and said it hopes to begin commercial production in 1997.
Under the system, a computer chip-or ``tag''-is placed on the inside of an off-the-road tire.
The chip then automatically records the tire's air pressure, chamber air temperature and identification information including: serial number, brand, equipment model, miles per hours maintained, wheel position, vehicle make and model and the mounting date.
The computer chip transmits the information to a computer when the vehicle passes between the system's antennas. Software then records and evaluates the data.
``When you realize that in mine sites, tires can cost more than $25,000 each and being five pounds low on pressure is the same as overloading some tires by as much as 4.5 tons, the importance of checking air pressure regularly becomes obvious,'' said Jack Dutcher, BFOR national engineering manager.
The chips' data also can alert service managers to potential problems, including dragging brakes, bad bearings and overloaded wheel positions, the company said.
The system is related to the one BFOR's parent company, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., has been developing for over-the-road trucking fleets, a spokeswoman said.
The company said it intends to make the computer language used to transfer the information available in the open market.
``This means the tag can be used with other tire brands, other readers and with any type of OTR equipment,'' Mr. Dutcher said.
BFOR is developing the system together with Livonia, Mich.-based Computer Methods Corp.