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March 4, 2018 7:45 PM, EST

SAF Holland Debuts Automatic Tire Inflation System

Roger Jansen of SAF Holland SAF Holland's Roger Jansen by John Sommers II for Transport Topics

ATLANTA — SAF Holland has introduced an automatic tire inflation system designed to maintain consistent air pressure across multiple tires by addressing both under- and over-inflation, and by warning the driver when a tire requires immediate attention.

The company’s Tire Pilot Plus system, introduced here during a March 4 press conference at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting, controls pressure through inflation of underinflated tires and by releasing air through a “high-pressure relief” for overinflated tires. Tires can become overinflated during operation, when temperatures can rise, the company said. And under- and over-inflation can reduce a tire’s service life, and affect fuel economy, it said.

“Modern tires are capable of achieving an awful lot of tread life, but unfortunately – even in today’s hypersensitive maintenance community – the reality is that most tires don’t realize their full tread life,” said Roger Jansen, the company’s product manager for trailer axles and suspensions for the Americas. “According to one large tire manufacturer, up to 80% of those premature failures are often directly related to improper tire management.”

While the Tire Pilot Plus is designed to maintain preset pressures, if a tire falls more than 20 pounds per square inch below that preset level, a light that can be mounted on a trailer — typically within the sight lines of a sideview mirror — can alert a driver that a tire requires immediate attention. Jansen said, in fact, that fleets said they wanted a system that only involved the driver when action was needed, which is why the light only illuminates when a tire falls below this level. Operating at more than 20 psi below preferred levels can be “very damaging to the tires,” Jansen noted.

Tire Pilot Plus

Tire Pilot Plus via SAF-Holland

The Tire Pilot Plus is leveraged from a product that has been available in Europe since 2013 and has been optimized for the North American market, Jansen said.

The system uses a braided stainless steel air hose, and knurled fittings at both hubcap and tire ends of the air hose provide for hand-tightening of connections without a wrench, SAF Holland said. The multifunctional hubcap has an integrated guide lip on the inside of the cap to enable easy alignment, sealing the surface to prevent oil escaping, the company said. Air supply to the tires flows through integrated passageways in the hubcap to the hose fittings. The hose fitting locations are plumbed through the sides of the hubcap and protected by patented integrated fins, above and below the connection. Dedicated air lines from the system’s control box to the wheel ends maintain pressure at preset levels, the company said.