ORLANDO, Fla.Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and the SmartWay Transport Partnership are two ways commercial tire manufacturers and dealers can maximize the value they offer to their truck fleet customers.
That's the message from speakers at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference (ITEC) held in August in Orlando.
TPMS technology is now in its 2.0 phase, said Peggy Fisher, president of tire monitoring company TireStamp Inc. and a Tire Business columnist.
Whereas early versions of truck TPMS were driver-oriented, the new versions that appeared in the mid-2000s are fleet-oriented, Ms. Fisher said.
TPMS 2.0 takes the tire data off the vehicle and sends it to a remote location and to the fleet, she said. It delivers tire alerts to the people who actually care.
The TPMS 2.0 technology is made possible by telematicsthe communication of system and location data through the use of satellites, cellular or Wi-Fi, according to Ms. Fisher. Sensors in the tires ensure that anyone who has Internet connectivity can receive the TPMS messages.
The intelligent use of TPMS 2.0 can reduce a truck fleet's labor costs significantly, Ms. Fisher said. You don't have to check the tires any more, and you can reduce in-route delays by up to 90 percent by eliminating tire failures.
TPMS 2.0 is a useful tool for tire dealers as well as truck fleets, she said.
If you serve two or three truck fleets with TPMS 2.0, you can ask the fleets to send you the information so you can service their tires. This works for specific vehicles with specific problems, as well as all vehicles at specific locations or branches.
You can configure each branch to get reports from customer vehicles, she said. You can also receive alerts from call centers and route vehicles to the closest dealer branch before they break down. You can prioritize tire service and dispatch technicians more efficiently, based on the severity of problems and the vehicles' current locations.
Technicians can receive work orders with specific instructions, eliminating wasted time checking tire pressures, Ms. Fisher said. And you can prove that the work was done to support service invoices and meet or exceed the fleet's expectations. That differentiates you from the competition.
The coolest thing about TPMS 2.0 is that it makes you money.
Patrick Keating, senior manager of technical engineering for Yokohama Tire Corp., called himself the unofficial president of the SmartWay Fan Club.
There's no SmartWay tire dealer programit's a fleet program. Mr. Keating said. So why should dealers care?
SmartWay, which began 10 years ago as a voluntary partnership involving truck fleets, truck equipment manufacturers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), includes tires only as a very small part of its operations, according to Mr. Keating, but it is rapidly becoming an essential part of the existence of anyone who makes or sells new or retread truck tires.
SmartWay helps companies move goods with fewer emissions and greater fuel efficiency, he said. Some companies insist that you belong to SmartWay even to bid on their contracts.
Among SmartWay's activities is certifying tires and other truck equipment as compliant with SmartWay's goals of greater fuel efficiency and emissions reductions, according to Mr. Keating.
Tire manufacturers and retreaders test three samples of the same tire pattern and submit the data to the EPA, which decides whether to add the model to the Verified Products List, he said.
I would certainly think you'd know whether you passed before you submitted the data.
The list of SmartWay-verified tires has become extremely long, Mr. Keating said, acknowledging that there are brands on the SmartWay list that I've never heard of before.
SmartWay now boasts some 3,000 partners from every aspect of the trucking industry, he said. Joining SmartWay has become a virtual necessity because California's Air Resource Board has adopted SmartWay standards as a state mandate. Mr. Keating said any truck fleet that wants to do business in Californiaor even send trucks to Californiahas to use SmartWay-verified technologies.
Long-haul tires will be 100-percent SmartWay-verified in the near future, he said.
(Editor's note: Peggy Fisher writes a Commercial Tire Service column for Tire Business.)