Pressure point

The exponential uptake of Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems and the growing number of players in this space demonstrates how front of mind safety and total cost of ownership is for transport businesses.

The Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) market is projected to reach $20.8 billion USD globally by 2025 – a major contributing factor here includes sweeping changes to legislation that will see the mandatory application of TPMS throughout Europe and beyond.

At Global Trailer, we expect TPMS developments to trend positively. Equipment specialists and trailer builders are racing to emphasise their key points of difference in the lead-up to this highly anticipated boom.

Celerity DRS weighs in on TPMS
Bart Ezendam, Celerity DRS General Manager, tends to agree with this market projection.

“Historically, we have seen that regulatory changes lead to huge movements in the market,” he said. “Not only with the total number of customers in the market, but also the amount of vendors and total products which become available. As well as the increase in demand for the products, the awareness and focus will shift to tyres; especially the status/maintenance of the tyres and their behaviour. This could also lead to changes in the tyre industry. “Currently it is a matter of lifetime of a product versus cost and getting the most from your investment. This may well change to focus on using the correct product/application versus the cost in order to meet regulation changes.

“Once the market sees that money can be saved instead of it being an expense, we will start to see mass adoption. Regulation changes will increase the speed of adoption and end-users will then start to see real-world examples of increased fuel efficiency and safety across their commercial vehicles.”

Celerity DRS is an exclusive European distributor of the Pressure Systems International (P.S.I.) Tyre Inflation System. The P.S.I. system is the leading Automatic Tyre Inflation System (ATIS) with over 1.5 million systems in use worldwide, and Ezendam’s team are experts in their own right when it comes to tyre maintenance and inflation systems.

“Having worked closely with Europe’s leading axle manufacturers, the Automatic Tyre Inflation System has been refined and perfected for the European trailer market, with partnerships now in place with all of the major manufacturers who provide their own brands of the system,” said Ezendam. “Examples include the SAF Tire Pilot, BPW Air Save, Schmitz Cargobull, JOST’s Plug & Play ATIS, SAE-SMB Airmax and Assali Stefen, with more to come in the near future.”’

Tyre wear is one of the greatest costs a road transport operator has to contend with. The latest innovations in tyre pressure tech can help prolong the lifecycle of tyres and drive efficiency outcomes, too.

Ezendam expects to see in the near future fully integrated TPMS/ATIS systems on commercial vehicles and potentially even ‘mini-systems’ which use narrowband communication channels to provide real-time feedback to the driver, and beyond that the sharing of real-time information to remote locations.

“This will lead to increased sharing of data across the industry (as can be seen with Krone and Schmitz Cargobull already) and not necessarily an increase in hardware sales,” he said. “This will also lead to innovations across the tyre industry, and sensors with lifetime batteries will be included within the tyres themselves. These sensors will send information and ID information via narrowband to the driver or a local data hub. Access to this data is great, but it’s what it done with the data that is the most important aspect. A TPMS will still require human intervention if tyre pressure lost or a puncture is found. Systems and products which autonomously fix these issues will undoubtedly become more of a benefit to fleets and businesses, and this is where Tyre Pressure Refill Systems (TPRS such as ATIS of PSI) will really start to shine. These systems continuously monitor and re-inflate the tyre whilst driving or when the vehicle is stationary and have increased safety, fuel and environmental impacts.

Celerity DRS released a regulation guide on UN ECE R 141 – the regulation that concerns the monitoring of tyres. While it is complication, the main complication with the revised regulation is that it refers solely to TPMS – which is Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems.

“This distinction is a little ambiguous and does not take into account other solutions such as TPRS and Central Tyre Inflation Systems (CTIS) which provide additional benefits in addition to just monitoring a vehicle’s tyres,” said Ezendam. “What is clear from the regulation changes is that any commercial vehicle that is purchased from July 2024 must have some kind of TPMS/TPRS/CTIS on board.

The choice of the system that is installed on the vehicle is up to the customer.

For the supplier of the new trailers, these regulations come into effect from July 2022, and from that moment onwards, every new type of trailer must be type approved with some form of system that checks the status of the tyres, or is able to refill and deflate the tyre.”

Celerity DRS currently has exclusive distribution rights for the P.S.I. Automatic Tyre Inflation System within Europe.

“This system works by taking air pressure from the trailer air supply (air suspension side) through to pressure protection valve,” said Ezendam. “It is then regulated at the control box and set to the desired tyre pressure applicable to the load of the vehicle. Air is then distributed to the axle beams, which act as a correctly pressurised conduit, whilst stationary or in transit as long as it is connected to the air supply of the truck. It effectively re-inflates the vehicle’s tyres to the optimum pressure whilst the vehicle is stationary or in motion and prevents blowouts and un-even tyre wear. We currently focus on the European market, but we do handle enquiries from all over the world and we are happy to help, inform and supply to customers wherever the opportunity arises.”

Looking to the future, Ezendam hopes that all commercial fleet end users will invest in a system that works autonomously and does not require the intervention of the truck driver.

“But we need to be realistic as well since that requires a bigger investment in the beginning and will deliver a Return On Investment (ROI) in most cases within a year,” he said. “The regulation changes will soon be upon us, and we will start to see adoption within the next few years. There will be more and more ‘solution’ providers in the transport sector and each trailer manufacturer will be working on their own solution. Thankfully we have the experience and relationships to support these developments. There are multiple benefits to the upcoming regulation, but they have to be communicated effectively to the wider market so they are not simply seen as another checklist exercise by businesses within the transport industry. Hopefully the waters do not become muddied with misinformation and that a light can be shone on the environmental, safety and cost benefits of installing a TPMS.”

Ezendam is mindful that trailer builders will be put in a difficult situation since end users may not want to pay for these additional features.

“There will be push back onto the trailer manufacturers when it comes to the increased price of the trailer,” he said. “The result will be that the trailer builder and the suppliers of the systems to the trailer builders will be under pressure to undercut their competitors. The big trailer OEMs are already taking position in this with their integrated telematics in every trailer and sharing the data coming out of these trailers. The smaller trailer builders need to take position as well to stand against this price discussion in future. In principle, TPMS costs money with no real return, with ATIS the transport company is protected to a high degree against tyre issues and it will deliver a return on investment.”

In addition to changes to TPMS, the European Union has Vehicle Energy Consumption Tool (VECTO) which determines the carbon dioxide emissions of a heavy vehicle. Ezendam expects a version of this will come for trailers at the earliest in 2022.
“What will be the impact of these kind of TPMS systems on the VECTO calculations?” said Ezendam. “And will VECTO be taken over by other countries outside the EU? These are questions that we are curious about since it could influence the choice for our system a lot.”

Equipment specialist, SAF-Holland, is focused on bringing TPMS to both the EU and US markets.

What does the TPMS market look like across Europe and the US according to SAF-Holland?
In Europe, SAF-Holland works with two intelligent systems for tyre pressure according to Product Manager for OE Europe, Elmar Weber.

“The SAF TIRE PILOT, an automatic system for the active filling of vehicle tyres, is connected to the axle,” said Weber. “TPRS is firmly installed on the trailer tyre. A control unit monitors the tyre pressure and, if necessary, raises it back to the pre-set pressure level. The air is passed through the axle tube into the tyre.

“The TrailerMaster is a TPMS. The sensor-based system manages, operates and maintains trailers in accordance with the law and regulations. For this purpose, pressure sensors are installed in each tyre and a gateway for trailer telematics. The digital system automatically warns against pressure losses.”

Bill Hicks, Product Manager, Trailer Axle/Suspension Systems – Americas, said SAF-Holland offers a significant portfolio of tyre pressure management systems as part of the company’s overall suspension and axle system supplier strategy.

Hicks said SAF-Holland will be offering three distinct options for our customers which are either available now or in the near-term future:
Tire Pilot Plus (TPP) – a TPMS which has inflate and deflate capabilities to maintain a constant, pre-set tyre pressure that includes a visual warning lamp for easy driver notification of any significant system issues. This system is currently available on all SAF suspension/axle system in North America and comes with pre-installed axles to assist the trailer OEM for easier installation.

Equipment specialist, SAF-Holland, has a suite of tyre pressure monitoring technologies available for European and North American fleets.

Tire Pilot Plus with RTS (Real Time Sensing) – this optional enhancement to the base TPP system includes battery powered tyre pressure sensors in the air system to further expand the customer’s ability to monitor trailer tyre pressures, either on the road or when sitting idle at the fleet terminal yard.

The TPP with RTS can communicate through the fleet’s chosen telemetric supplier to facilitate a pre-trip ‘real-time’ tyre status inspection of critical trailer attributes while parked. The system can ‘ping’ an un-coupled trailer in the yard and read individual tyre pressure, and if a pressure issue is detected it automatically identifies the problematic tyre. This saves the fleet manager time and money by not only reducing required time for pre-trip inspections, but also by identifying an issue in advance and allowing maintenance to be per-formed before the trailer is scheduled for road operation.

While on the road, the TPP with ‘real-time sensing’ option constantly monitors individual trailer tyre pressures. If the system detects that a tyre’s pressure has fallen below the threshold setting it will automatically send an alert notification to the fleet’s telematics user dashboard, with the problematic tyre location pointed out. This feature assists with avoiding expensive roadside service calls by providing the ability to immediately seek service before the situation becomes critical.

Field trials are in progress and production serialisation is expected Q2 2021.
SMAR-te Tire Pilot Plus – a significant optional enhancement to the base TPP system that includes an electronic control module with Bluetooth capabilities.

This system will automatically adjust tyre pressure setting per the tyre manufacturer’s axle load versus tyre pressure specification. This further enhances tyre life and fuel economy as well as provides a means to signal possible over-weight situations before the trailer is put in service.

SAF Holland has been globally supplying the Tire Pilot brand tyre inflation systems for over 10 years starting in Europe and expanding to North America in 2018.

There are a number of advantages for fleets to invest in these technologies.
“The TPRS SAF TIRE PILOT extends the life of every single tyre and saves time in vehicle inspection and maintenance,” said Weber. “In the event of puncture damage, the assistance system maintains the minimum pressure and thus avoids that a semi-trailer is left behind due to creeping air loss. In addition, the always optimal tyre pressure reduces wear and fuel consumption. Our TPMS TrailerMaster in combination with telematics monitors the tyre condition on the vehicle.”

Meanwhile, in the US, Hicks said the investment in tyre management systems yield significant short- and long-term benefits with regards to fuel savings and life enhancements.

“Further to this point is the fact that automatic tire management systems take a burden off of the driver and fleet managers with regards to driver training and field operations,” he said. “Having an automatic tire inflation system delivers ‘peace of mind’ with regards to ensure that fleets are effectively managing their tire resources and fuel costs.”

The industry response has been positive for SAF-Holland’s TPMS products in both Europe and North America.

“Since SAF-Holland introduced its systems in Europe, the competition and some customers have been using similar or identical systems,” said Weber.

Telematics is ticking the boxes when it comes to cross-technology integration.

Hicks shared a similar sentiment for the US. “Based on the current and projected market shares for tyre management systems, we see this demand increasing even further with the new change in Administration in Washington and the likely reinstatement of the GHG phase 2 regulations for trailers,” he said.

Going forward, the importance of tyre management systems for transport efficiency, according to Weber, will certainly increase. “The integration and networking of connected systems, including our SAF TIRE PILOT, will serve as a preparation for autonomous driving.”

“All future TPMS systems will eventually be assimilated as a key component of a ‘SMART’ trailer package or system which when combined with a ‘SMART’ tractor/power units will further facilitate the move towards a fully autonomous vehicle (SAE Level 5),” said Hicks.

Looking back at the European market, Weber expects it to increase exponentially due to incoming legislation that will see the technology become mandatory.

“In the European Union, tyre pressure management systems will become mandatory by law: EU Regulation GSR 2019/2144 will require, among other things, monitoring tyre pressure for heavy duty vehicles and their trailers,” he said. “This will become mandatory for new type-approvals from July 2022 and for all vehicles from July 2024. In order to develop a technical framework for this regulation, work is currently underway on ECE Regulation 141. It is stipulated that vehicles equipped with a TPRS (Tyre Pressure Refill System) do not require a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System).

Hicks added that in the case of North America it is looking very likely that GHG Phase 2 for trailers will be reinstated as well as a push for ‘SMART’ trailers. “Yes, we are bullish on tyre pressure monitoring systems for the future in North America as well as globally.”

An interesting aside, SAF-Holland has identified that maintaining optimal tyre pressure is also an important environmental issue. Sure, there is an emphasis on fuel savings but what about microplastics and particulate matter pollution? Incorrect tyre pressure increases abrasion immensely, according to Weber. “Our goal is to permanently prolong tyre life with the SAF TIRE PILOT and thus protect the environment.”

BPW’s perspective on tyre pressure management and regulation
Caren Freudenberg is the product manager of TPRS systems at BPW’s head office in Wiehl, Germany. Throughout her 21-year career with the company she has learnt a lot about running gear componentry.

“Since 2007 I was in charge as a product manager for running-gear components like air tanks, mudguards and have been working on TPRS,” she said. “Before that, I was working in sales. during that time, I learned and adopted the perspective of our customers, i.e. the vehicle manufacturers and the vehicle operators, even the drivers and workshop mechanics. Which is why I’m happy to be responsible for a solution that is truly customer-driven and offers tangible benefits. It can be translated into concrete money savings, even the environmental benefits are not a flowery promise, but can be quantified in tonnes of carbon dioxide saved. In short: It saves money, it saves our planet and it saves lives. I’m grateful that I can contribute to make a difference.”

BPW’s AirSave is a tyre pressure refilling system that is especially handy when a tyre blows out and the vehicle needs to travel safely to a workshop for maintenance.

The TPMS technologies that BPW provides are based on two pillars, TPMS and the AirSave Tyre Pressure Regulation System.

“With both products, we not only reduce operating costs but also the environmental impact of carbon dioxide and tyre abrasion – putting us in a top position in the megatrend of climate protection,” said Freudenberg.

“The TPMS can be retrofitted and the system can be seamlessly integrated into our idem telematics platform Cargofleet3. A well-rounded and strong-selling solution. Our subsidiary idem telematics has been offering TPMS as an optional module (‘hub’) for telematics since 2014.

“However, you might rightly ask: why merely monitor the tyre pressure when I can also adjust it while driving? This is where AirSave comes in. It ensures the constant operational readiness of the vehicle, saves enormously on tyres and fuel and makes the forwarder less dependent on the driver’s diligence. After all, it is the driver’s duty to check the tyre pressures again and again, but everyone knows that in practice this is often not done; given the time-pressure in the business. The result is tyre blowouts, which are one of the most frequent causes of accidents and cost the industry billions. We can spare the forwarder all that. The purchase saves up to 700 euros for a three-axle vehicle with an annual mileage of 120,000 kilometres. In some European markets there are also financial subsidies on top of that. So, you get the savings plus extra money from the state.”

Freudenberg said TPMS is a longstanding offer but AirSave took BPW longer than planned to deliver. “We looked long and hard at a variety of solutions,” she said.

“We cooperated with a partner and re-engineered the entire product; i.e. we developed a new hub cap adapter for the system and the BPW rotor has also been reinvented. Which is why we can consider AirSave a propriety BPW development that is not available from any other provider. Typical of BPW and unique is the integration into the telematics platform Cargofleet3 from our subsidiary idem telematics. The driver can keep an eye on the tyre condition via the smartphone app, but the dispatcher can also see from his desk whether everything is in check on the road.”

In terms of time and events, BPW presented AirSave in May 2019, which, according to Freudenberg, has been a hit ever since. “An important milestone to watch is the new European ECE standard which is said to make TPMS or TPRS mandatory as of 2022,” she said. “From 2024, new type approvals for trailers will probably only be issued with TPMS, possibly also TPRS like AirSave. The law has yet to be ratified, but the industry expects it to pass as drafted. What’s more, in the industry nations there is strong trend towards carbon dioxide taxation, which should further drive the uptake of AirSave.”

So, what are the advantages of AirSave?

“AirSave pays off in a wide range of operating conditions,” said Freudenberg. “In long-distance traffic, it’s obvious; who wants to be stuck with a blowout in the middle of the Australian Outback or the South African Karoo desert? Also, in mines and other heavy-duty operations, things can get nasty when tyres go flat. But did you know that this also applies to Europe – albeit for different reasons: In France, in the event of a breakdown, there is only one repair shop per highway section, which charges outrageous prices for towing and repairs. A breakdown could easily set you back around 3,500 euro or even more. You do the maths. In many European countries, too, blowout can cost an awful lot of money that way.”

BPW also provides aftersales support for its TPMS technologies.

“Ease of maintenance is characteristic of BPW,” said Freudenberg. “However, the point about AirSave is that it significantly reduces the need for unplanned repairs, as the tyres last considerably longer and practically never burst. Even if there is a puncture, say, caused by a nail, AirSave keeps the air pressure stable long enough for the driver to safely drive to a workshop.”
Heavy vehicle operators also ask about cost savings associated with the implementation of TPMS.

“We take pride in providing exact numbers for individual cost savings using AirSave,” said Freudenberg. “Our sales team is happy to calculate your savings exactly for your type of vehicle. As a rule of thumb, AirSave saves up to 700 euros for a three-axle vehicle with an annual mileage of 120,000 kilometres. And that’s just fuel and tyre wear. Saving time, avoiding blow-outs, fines, damaged freight or accidents comes on top, as well as saving on carbon dioxide taxes.”
So, what has the industry response been like for BPW’s TPMS products?

“Well, AirSave has been eagerly awaited by many for some time and the orders were very positive, as we expected,” said Freudenberg. “But there was also excellent response that we did not expected in the first place, such as South Africa. Our customers clearly recognise the competitive advantages of our construction – it’s just on a different level of quality and reliability.”

BPW is also providing AirSave in combination with its Active Reverse Control steering system for BPW self-steering axles.

“Our subsidiary idem telematics is soon going to launch a new generation of telematic gateway, with an TPMS already built in,” said Freudenberg. “That way, all you need is the tyre sensors and you are all set. There are a couple of exciting news coming up.”

BPW expects systems like AirSave will become the norm in the future as the financial and operational benefits are simply too good to ignore.

“There is a simple entrepreneurial logic that drives the rapid adoption: only a running truck earns money,” said Freudenberg. “Also, we believe that the telematics connectivity of the system, as we are offering already today, is becoming a key feature. There are a couple of new things we’re working on, but they’re top secret for now. This market will remain exciting.”

As the uptake of TPMS is expected to increase exponentially, especially across Europe, Freudenberg said that as soon as the new European ECE standards comes into effect, BPW anticipates the market to at least double or triple.

“BPW is well positioned to capture a significant share of this market,” she said. “AirSave, like all BPW running gear components, is born digital, it is based on a digital twin that contains all the information about its technical-physical properties, applications and possible combinations. In this way, BPW offers its customers in Europe the possibility to develop, calculate and order complete running gears online with a configurator. The user-friendly system guides the user through the entire process and reliably rules out errors. It’s self-explanatory and you can even do it at home. The system even provides the data for parameterising the braking system. A single mouse click is all it takes to integrate AirSave into the chassis. With the order, the chassis gets a digital DNA that accompanies the entire life cycle, it controls production and assembly, and also enables new possibilities in the aftermarket. Our online configurator has helped many of our customers in the vehicle industry during the Corona shutdown to seamlessly move engineering tasks to the home office, allowing them to keep delivering on schedule. But engineering designers also like the tool because it gives them a new playful approach. You can play through all the different variants online as often as you feel like it. It is truly revolutionary, and we are looking forward to introducing the online configurator step by step in other countries.”

Telematics is ticking the boxes when it comes to cross-technology integration.

France’s ATEQ takes the lead in TPMS
Over the last 20 years, ATEQ has developed and introduced a variety of TPMS tools, from R&D to the workshop. ATEQ’s first experience with TPMS goes back to the early 2000s, when the company provided the first TPMS reading systems for Renault and Peugeot assembly lines. Today, the ATEQ Group is present in 32 countries, and its TPMS stations are present on vehicle and wheel assembly lines all over the world.

From its industrial experience, the company built its first workshop tools. With more than 300,000 workshop tools sold, ATEQ’s TPMS passenger vehicle database contains more than 5,000 different passenger vehicle make, model and year references. Over the years the company has gained market share in the commercial vehicle space, also growing its CV database.

ATEQ is adamant that a dedicated TPMS tool complements or replaces the more complex scan tool in many instances, especially since the TPMS tool offers a similar process to service TPMS-equipped wheels in between different systems. In consequence, the technician’s learning curve for each system is not so steep and costly errors are avoided.

The company provides onsite support for its products as well as online or phone assistance. A big part of the company’s role is to educate users, fleet maintenance technicians and assembly managers on how to use their TPMS systems and tools to their advantage.

ATEQ saw a great market boom in demand for TPMS tools in the passenger vehicle market in 2014 and expects to see the interest in dedicated Truck & Trailer TPMS tools grow quickly in the next couple of years. The company has had great responses from OEMs and sensor makers who turn to the experts in TPMS tools and LF/RF technology for their next tool.

Committed to being a world leader in this industry, ATEQ will continue to diversify its range of tools and provide more advanced applications for TPMS sensor and tyre data management. In the coming year it aims to introduce applications to read RFID Tyre Data, for tyre logistics, traceability and other types of applications.

In the near future, ATEQ expects there will be a need to standardise between sensor communication technologies to make maintenance of these systems easier, as well as enabling access to ECUs on different vehicles. New commercial vehicle TPMS systems for easier drop and hook connectivity between tractor and trailer tyres, will see the light.

ATEQ is optimistic about the TPMS market going ahead. “Truck and trailer fleet managers have much better understanding about the value of TPMS, than passenger vehicle owners, where drivers would not necessarily appreciate the benefit. The optimisation of fleet down-time, cost savings, not to mention the safety of drivers are strong arguments which resonate well in this industry. The EU legislation coming in 2022 will do the rest.”

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