DETROIT (July 18, 2000)—Schrader Bridgeport International Inc. with its sister electronics division has won seven new original equipment contracts for its Gen II tire pressure monitoring sensor.
Schrader will ship Gen II for three U.S. vehicle models, three in Europe and one in Japan starting with the 2001 model year and extending three to four years, depending on the contract, said Carl E. Wacker, worldwide manager of sales and marketing for Schrader Electronics.
He did not give dollar amounts for the contracts nor name the vehicle makers, but did say the typical markets interested in the technology are luxury cars, sport-utility vehicles and minivans.
The Gen II sensor made its debut on the 2000-model Peugeot 607, now in production in Europe, Mr. Wacker said.
Schrader´s first version of the sensor has been standard equipment on the Chevrolet Corvette and Plymouth Prowler since 1996, working in tandem with the run-flat tires on those vehicles. Currently, there are over 600,000 sensor assemblies installed on models of the two vehicles, Mr. Wacker said.
But the redeveloped stem sensor will appear solo for six of the seven new contracts, he said.
"This technology coexists with run-flat technology, complements it, but this system warns you before you have a problem," Mr. Wacker said.
"Your optimal safety would be both a run-flat tire and a tire pressure monitor. But this is the wave of the future from a new safety products standpoint."
The Gen I sensor required counterbalancing on the tire, because it was 35-percent heavier, Mr. Wacker said. "Now we´ve gone to a 35-gram sensor. Because of its fixed position, light weight and the way it distributes its weight,...OEs can use conventional wheel designs," Mr. Wacker said.
The electronics portion of the sensor is produced by Schrader Electronics at its Antrim, Northern Ireland, plant, while Schrader Bridgeport produces the aluminum valve stem and assembles it with a purchased EPDM rubber grommet seal.
Schrader´s sensor features wireless technology that transmits the pressure in the tire via radio frequency every 60 seconds, unless there´s a pressure change. If the sensor detects a change, it transmits more frequently, a valuable communication in slow-leak situations, which occur far more often than catastrophic failures, Mr. Wacker said.
Schrader is the only original equipment manufacturer of tire-monitoring systems, Mr. Wacker said, but other manufacturers, like TRW and Japan-based Pacific Ltd., advertise similar radio-frequency tire pressure monitors.
Mr. Wacker said there are competing systems that try to measure tire pressure indirectly via the ABS braking system, but these systems measure wheel speed changes rather than tire pressure and assume pressure problems if there is a differential between the four wheel speeds.
"We (Schrader) measure tire pressure; we don´t measure wheel speed," he said.
With run-flats, the diameter of the tire changes much less than a conventional tire, Mr. Wacker said, which presents a much bigger challenge for an ABS system, like those manufactured by Delphi Automotive Systems and Robert Bosch GmbH.
Another problem with ABS-based monitoring systems, he said, is that they don´t work until the vehicle is rolling.
Like its predecessor, Schrader´s Gen II sensor takes stationary pressure readings. "When you get in your car and start it up, you´ll know if there´s a problem before you get rolling," Mr. Wacker said.
Although Schrader Electronics produces the radio frequency receiver for the Prowler, its sensor valve can integrate with other systems, Mr. Wacker said.
"We´ve made our tire pressure sensor compatible with other radio frequency receivers that are in the vehicle today, doing things like remote, keyless entry and Johnson Control Inc.´s HomeLink automatic garage door opener, he said.
Those receivers already installed in the vehicle are used only to lock and unlock the car door, open the trunk and open the garage door. The rest of the time, the receiver sits there, unused but already paid for, Mr. Wacker said. "Now you have something on a real-time, constant basis watching your tire pressure," he added.
Schrader will upgrade its aftermarket offering of the sensor to have it available by late summer of this year, Mr. Wacker said.