Managing Fleets Efficiently

Managing Fleets Efficiently

By Sharad Matade:

With global automotive industry facing tougher regulations on fuel efficiency, the use of tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is set to see exponential growth. It is these growth prospects that shape the vision of Peggy Fischer, President of Rochester Hills, MI-based TireStamp, a leading global TPMS 2.0 solutions company. She told Tyre Asia that commercial vehicle technology is currently undergoing a period of transformation. The cloud itself is revolutionary as it could monitor data from multiple sources and sensors

Peggy Fischer, President of Rochester Hills, MI-based TireStamp, is constantly working to empower its customers to improve productivity, fuel economy, maintenance and safety of their commercial vehicles. Her vision is to take her company further forward and ensure that its leadership position in the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) market is enduring.
Fischer ensures that TireStamp keeps up with commercial vehicle technology that is currently undergoing a period of transformation in which new ideas such as autonomous vehicles, battery powered trucks and tractors, and eco-friendly technologies are driving new operational business models.
In an interview she says the cloud itself is revolutionary in its ability to link data from multiple sources and from multiple sensors to provide visibility into location, weather, road surface, axle loads, tread depth and driver behaviour.
“This information enables us to study much larger and disparate data sets for unique patterns and common occurrences to develop new algorithms that support proactive tyre and vehicle diagnostics (problem identification), corrective actions, and post service analysis of the quality and effectiveness of each service incident,” she told Tyre Asia.
TireStamp has been collecting and analysing tyre data for over 10 years and has developed algorithms that operate as effectively on the vehicle as in the cloud. “We will continue to fine-tune our cloud-based algorithms in predicting and improving tyre performance which is the future of tyre data analytics.”
With automotive TPMS market set to hit a CAGR of 6.7 per cent by 2024 on the back of stringent government regulations to equip TPMS in passenger vehicles, the emphasis on automotive safety and improving fuel economy and reducing property damage as a result of accidents will be the main focus in the coming years.
TireStamp’s TPMS 2.0 has leveraged telematics to help fleets with remote diagnostics for tyres. It can alert fleet managers through Internet the condition of tyres to make appropriate decision on tyre maintenance and management. Taking care of tyre problems before the drivers take off can prevent 90 per cent of en-route breakdowns.
TPMS technology that would make the perfect ‘intelligent tyre’ to reduce cost of vehicle operations and strengthen safety factors is constantly evolving. “The latest developments in commercial vehicle TPMS technology marry electronic TPMS with telematics to provide vehicle location and tyre pressure and temperature status to fleet managers not only when an alert is generated but on demand as well through apps that connect to the Internet and access data stored in the cloud,” she explains. This capability provides not only the driver but fleet managers with visibility of tyre problems 24/7 even if the vehicles are hundreds of miles away.

Remote diagnostics

The new TPMS 2.0 technologies provide remote diagnostics to fleets so that nearby service providers can be advised and are ready to address the problems when the vehicle is directed to their location and avoid en-route tyre-related breakdowns.
In addition, anyone with Internet connectivity using smartphones, tablets, laptops or computers can get alerts. No special equipment is required to access a vehicle’s tyre information so tyre dealers and call centres can be alerted to problems as they develop too, all that is needed is an e-mail address or cell phone number. New technologies are also enabling smartphones to be used to check tyre pressures.
“The nice thing is that since these systems have great backend software that runs them and analyses the collected data, target pressure and alert thresholds can be customised to the fleet’s needs and pressure and alert threshold changes and system updates can be made quickly “over-the-air” while the vehicles are running down the road,” says Fischer.
Since they monitor location and mileage, tyre mileage is available and the number of miles tyres run underinflated and/or overheated can be recorded as well. In addition, fleet managers and technicians can now be advised when wheel nuts should have their torque checked after a tyre change.
The power of these systems, however, lies in the data that is stored in a cloud-based database for analysis. This enables users to evaluate all the tyres on one vehicle, all the tyres on vehicles at one location or all the tyres on vehicles in the whole fleet.
Also, useful and actionable reports can be generated that provide work orders for technicians to use to address problem tyres on vehicles at their location before they get on the road and prevent 90 per cent of en-route breakdowns.
Management can also receive reports that provide them with the current condition of their fleet’s tyres (fleet surveys) and the problems they are experiencing as well as how their maintenance personnel are reacting to those problems.
These reports can be run to compare one location’s tyre maintenance to another and are great tools to use to improve a fleet’s tyre maintenance programme.
Fischer says that one of the latest developments is predictive analytics. With this capability, TPMS 2.0 products can determine the rate of tyre inflation pressure loss or heat built-up that a tyre is experiencing and determine the number of minutes, hours, or days a tyre has before it reaches a catastrophic point.
With this information fleet managers can make insightful decisions in real time as to whether the vehicle should be stopped immediately, should travel on to the next service provider, can deliver the freight and then get service, or wait until it returns to the fleet’s yard for service. In this way, the most efficient and safe decision can be made with a minimal disruption in operations. This all works to improve driver retention and customer satisfaction.

No final solution

Commenting on current technology challenges to find a ‘final solution’ to the challenge of integrating sensors into vehicle’s electronic architecture to improve vehicle control, Fischer doubts there ever will be a “final solution” to doing anything with technology.
“Technology is evolving faster and faster and doing things that weren’t even imaginable a few years ago or even last week! I expect that the drive to autonomous vehicles will continue to generate new technologies to improve vehicle control.”
When asked about cost-effective ways to incorporate sensors during the tyre manufacturing process and while retreading of the tyre, Fischer commented that TPMS sensor technology is evolving. However, currently only tiny Radio Frequency Identifiers (RFIDs) that store only tyre identification data, are passive and do not include batteries.
They are not able to measure tyre pressure and temperature. However, there are sensors being developed that can do that. They are coming in the not too distant future as technology continues to shrink the size of sensors and miniaturises their components. When these sensors are built into tyres they will be able to withstand the retreading process since they must be able to survive the original tyre curing process.
At this time the TPMS sensors that are mounted on the tyre innerliner and must be removed prior to retreading and replaced in the tyre afterwards. This prevents damage to the sensors due to excessive heat (over 240 degrees F). Removing and replacing these sensors in tyres is an extra step that will increase the cost of retreading.
Fischer said there are specific ways to determine fuel consumption and CO2 emissions while using TPMS by large fleet companies. “There certainly are. Many newer vehicles are now reporting fuel economy via the CANbus and telematics so fleets can monitor fuel consumption very carefully. Many fleets are now reporting that their vehicles that are equipped with TPMS 2.0 have also significantly improved their fuel economy as reported by their engine monitoring systems.”
On developing global standards covering TPMS technology, she said these cover only component level and the RF radio transmission standards using the ISM communications bands (0 – 1 GHz) to comply with the various country RF transmission regulations.
“It is expected that as more commercial RF frequencies become accessible, such as the 2.4 – 5 GHz bands used for network communications like BlueTooth, these more popular and lower costs radios will become more prevalent and used in newer sensor designs and products. However, it is unlikely that current TPMS transmission standards will change quickly since each country regulates its own airwaves,” Fischer noted.
Also, the technology R&D playing field is rapidly changing with chip, component and TPMS manufacturers developing new and unique tyre measurement techniques that will become integrated into new TPMS sensor products.
The resulting TPMS data will be integrated into big data cloud systems and change the emphasis from vehicle based data collection to data analytics where the intelligence will be in the cloud and not on-board the vehicle, as most of it is today.
When this happens there will be little need for vehicle specific standardisation and efforts to develop global standards covering TPMS technology will be less important. The integration of historical and multi-sensor, real-time, vehicle data collection systems will then be able to provide more holistic tyre measurement and reporting solutions based on tyre event driven reporting, all in the cloud.

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