December 20, 2017 3:00 PM, EST

Opinion: Tire Maintenance Key in Age of Autonomous Vehicles

Tires are the second-largest maintenance operating cost for fleets after fuel and account for an estimated 51% of all roadside emergencies. And pretty much everyone knows this: It has long been the case that tires reside at the top of the industry’s key maintenance challenges.


What’s new is how the industry will deal with the potential for tire failures on autonomous trucks, and it’s an issue that must be addressed; Level 4 highly automated commercial vehicles — which per SAE definition will control all aspects of driving in specified conditions — will require automated response systems capable of scheduling and rerouting vehicles due to mechanical or operational issues such as tire problems.

Proponents say that autonomous trucks will have high utilization rates, which will drive down overall cost on a per ton-mile basis. But with higher utilization comes more time on the road and an accompanying increase in tire wear. If an autonomous truck is broken down for a tire-related problem, those promised benefits are greatly diminished. Further, imagine the costs and delays incurred if one in a group of three or four platooning vehicles has a tire failure and disrupts the entire platoon.

Technology is available today that can be integrated into autonomous truck development and curtail the chances for tire-related breakdowns and unscheduled repairs. This technology collects vehicle and tire data from all wheel positions on the vehicle and communicates it to the cloud for review, diagnosis and predictive failure analysis. The resulting derived intelligence of the detected tire issues can be shared using the Internet of Things (IoT) with other fleet operational and maintenance systems through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

From there, detailed messages can be sent to autonomous network operators, tire service providers capable of handling the developing issues can be identified and repair appointments can be scheduled.

All of a fleet’s personnel involved with route selection, delivery scheduling, maintenance (in-house or outsourced), safety and management can instantly be made aware when these events begin to develop and when they are forecast to critically impact vehicle operations and delivery schedules. This visibility enables fleet managers to operate efficiently and safely before critical tire conditions develop. Vehicles with problem tires can then be serviced and returned to their normal routes without disrupting deliveries.

This type of technology is intended to help autonomous trucks stay rolling on the road.

Transmitting tire alerts based on a vehicle’s operating state and location was developed to enable fleets to handle these situations most efficiently with the resources available while minimizing disruptions in freight delivery. This technology ensures that a fleet’s need to maximize revenue miles for operations is prioritized while still providing maintenance providers the ability to handle tire-related problems in a proactive and cost-effective manner. With this visibility, tire problems can be addressed long before damage to tires occurs and emergency breakdown situations arise.

This level of tire visibility is required so that fleets, tire OEMs and tire dealers can respond quickly, efficiently and properly to the needs of autonomous trucking. New technologies available today enable fleets to set customized thresholds for underinflation, overinflation, overheating and rapid air loss situations by tire position and vehicle type. Systems that integrate vehicle mileage into their calculations can remind fleets to retorque their wheel nuts after a tire change. Some solutions store and analyze tire data across the entire fleet, in addition to zeroing in on a specific group of vehicles or on one specific vehicle or tire.

These solutions also can generate reports for management that help determine the quality of the fleet’s tire maintenance program, and the financial impact that program has on the company’s bottom line. All of this information can be accessed on demand from the cloud.

Companies with this underlying technology and intellectual property are positioned to build the next generation of tire management systems. These new systems will optimize tire service solutions for autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing fleets while leveraging tire and vehicle data to plan for and schedule proper tire maintenance. Partnering with the next generation of autonomous truck manufacturers that realize the need for these technologies in order to address their autonomous vehicles’ potential tire issues will be integral to making the trucking industry’s transition to autonomous vehicles a smooth and fast one.

TireStamp, based in Rochester Hills, Mich. offers the latest in tire analytics and cloud-based, tire-monitoring solutions. For additional information, visit