Every driver speeding down the highway has seen the telltale signs of a big-rig blowout: black skids leading off the road, ragged pieces of rubber sitting dangerously in the median, and sometimes the truck itself on the shoulder. These blowouts are not always disasters—redundant tires and skilled drivers protect lives—but it is estimated that cargo companies spend over $1,000,000 per crash, including repairs and potential lawsuits.
Even disregarding worst-case scenarios, repairing a rig and replacing a tire can set you back over $1000. When you factor in the time it takes to make the repair, you are looking at an even greater loss—one that can threaten customer confidence. If your shipping company cannot deliver on time, why should people do business with you?
New developments in Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMSs), plus the connectivity provided by the connected car (or connected truck in this case), can make trucks safer and shipping businesses more secure. The industry is turning more and more to predictive maintenance and remote management of fleets to keep track of everything that is happening in their rigs. It is a way to know what is going on from, literally, the ground up.
TPMS Keeps Drivers and Remote Management Informed
Under the current way of doing business, the occasional blowout is unavoidable. Shifting weight due to drop-offs and pickups can alter tire pressure. Uneven filling creates an imbalanced distribution of weight. Even weather conditions, road speeds, and the shape of the road can make a difference. It is a lot for drivers to monitor, especially in the face of tremendous pressure to get cargo delivered on time.
Even without a blowout, knowledge of tire pressure and conditions can save money: underinflated tires can cause a 3% drop in fuel efficiency, which over an average year can equal some 620 gallons of gas for a big rig. Multiply that across an entire fleet, and the savings add up. Most drivers already know when their tires are extremely underinflated, but a TPMS can serve as an early alert—before tires have slipped too far into a dangerous and costly zone.
Over the last several years, technology companies have been testing the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to monitor tires. This type of TPMS is able to gauge a host of factors, including:
- Air Pressure
- Weight on tire
- Tire temperature
- Acceleration data
All of this information can be combined to let drivers and fleet managers know exactly what is going on, alerting them to anomalies.
This instant knowledge will become increasingly important as the industry moves toward automatic driving. As TPMSs become connected, all of a truck’s tires will be able to communicate directly with each other. Consequently, they will “know” when one tire’s pressure is negatively impacting the entire rig. The tire sensors will then be able to judge if a stop is needed immediately or if it can wait until the truck pauses to refuel.
Such a system is one form of predictive maintenance, an idea the rest of the auto industry is beginning to explore via big data analytics systems. These systems can gather terabytes of information every day about how tires react to speed, temperature, and the weight of cargo, helping fleet managers adjust all factors to ensure maximum efficiency.
And while predictive maintenance means adjusting to conditions relayed by a series of RFID chips, it also means using the collected data to minimize the need for maintenance altogether. The shipping industry will be able to know that, when driving along 19 from Nogales to Tucson in the heat of July, for example, it is important to go at X speed and load your freight according to specific distribution patterns. It is this level of specificity that will allow smart shipping companies to keep their fleets moving smoothly.
That is not even the best part. Connected vehicles will also be able to adjust their software—and even hardware—on the fly. Using OTA technology, entire fleets can be instantly updated based on the results of a predictive maintenance analysis. You will not have to wait for a truck to return home in order to update the software that allows drivers to understand tire wear, or to update cybersecurity, autonomous driving, and safety features.
The trucking industry lives on huge vehicles and tight margins. Those huge vehicles can be smarter, and the margins can be wider, with the help of TPMSs and predictive maintenance that can change the shipping industry, right down to where the rubber meets the road.
Connected technology points the way toward better fleet management. Movimento has pioneered the next wave of OTA software for the automotive and industrial world, helping companies evolve in a connected and automated environment. Connect with us today to learn more about a partnership.