AKRONTire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), which have been enjoying a surge in sales within the passenger vehicle market, are capturing the interest of the OTR tire market.
While passenger vehicles have adopted TPMS for the sole purpose of safety, the OTR marketparticularly construction and miningis gradually adopting TPMS for the primary purpose of cutting costs, according to Schrader International Inc.
In that segment, what's most important is vehicle up-time. Those tires are considered capital assets.... They must keep those up. Vehicle up-time is worth dollars to them, said Paul Wise, director of product management and marketing for Schrader.
Within the last two to three years the tire pressure element has become more and more prevalent there.
Schrader, which claims half the global market for passenger/LT TPMS, said it is looking at inroads into OTR, as well as the motorcoach, farm and personal mobility markets.
About 70 percent of Schrader's business is in the passenger/LT market, where it sells about 40 million to 50 million sensors annually. OTR is nowhere near the size of the passenger/LT market, but Schrader has dedicated business units that support OTR solely, Mr. Wise said.
We see an undercurrent of growth in not only OTR but those other unique segments.... I think over time there will be a whole line of business for us, he told Tire Business.
This is a growing business for us, he added, noting that while there is some OTR market growth in North America, there is even more demand in Europe, Russia, India, the Middle East, Asia and South America, where there is an increase in mining and larger infrastructure projects.
When a large OTR tire can cost $30,000-plus, fleets are hardpressed to maintain the life of these tires and keep them in operation.
Unlike passenger vehicle TPMS, which alerts drivers to low air pressure, OTR tires require sensors that can withstand rugged operating conditions, track tire pressure and temperature, and transmit data to fleet managers, who can monitor numerous tires on various vehicles. Schrader provides both the sensors that are applied inside the tire, much like a tire patch, and the software to process the data.
It's a little bit different of a warning than the guy going 65 mph down a highway, Mr. Wise said. There are in-cab displays that warn the driver, but what's more important to these guys, beyond the driver, is being able to collect, transmit, manage and analyze the data that is collected in those tires. That is important priority No. 1, I think.
...Previously, they had zero insight into all that. They were at risk of blowing a tire, having a machine down until the service could get out there..., he continued. So now, since you can actually measure the pressure, temperature and other data points in the tire remotely, these fleet managers can have that insight and can continually monitor it and do preventive maintenance where they were never able to do before...so they can pull a machine out of operation whenever they want.
Being able to monitor that remotely is a massive, massive benefit because it ties directly to preventive maintenance and avoiding equipment downtime.
Schrader took the same concept they use for passenger vehicle TPMS and built unique target sensors that can withstand harsh conditions inside these massive tires, Mr. Wise said. But what we also gave the business side is...the data stream that is collected inside those tires so you can do preventive maintenance and actually measure ROI (return on investment) and be able to keep those assets in service longer. And they never used to be able to do that before.
Data management is gold, he said. Being able to not only pull the data out but we have a software package that is tracking the data. It's showing the data by vehicle, by tire position.
It charts pressure, temperature and threshold realms where you can visually see where it's at and staying within your allowable tolerances.
The data plus the data analytics ...is cutting-edge applications here because it's what those guys want.
Showing fleets how they can cut costs by monitoring their tires' data, be alerted to the need for preventive service and schedule down times for a machine is more of a selling point than just discussing the sensor technology, he said.
Often times we'll deploy a test vehicle with four sensors and track data for them. Once they see it tangibly in their operation, I think it's not a very hard sell. They're payback is so quick, he said.
As Schrader makes inroads into the OTR market, he said the company is also having conversations with participants in other markets that could adapt TPMS on their machines. Personal mobility, such as scooters, stand-up vehicles, all-electric vehicles and three-wheelers, farm equipment and motorcoaches are some of the TPMS applications that could see potential growth.
It's what OTR experienced a few years agoeveryone is picking up the theme of, 'Can this help my business? Can this make me more effective?' And I think that spans applications beyond OTR, Mr. Wise said.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6127.