To increase durability and lower the rolling resistance of its new truck tyres, Michelin has launched a new ‘Energy Flex’ casing.
A small chip for a giant leap
We often discuss the importance of tyre maintenance: checking the pressure and state of tyres, tyre rotation, turn on rim, balancing, alignment… Yet, the cost of truck downtime during these operations is often neglected. The loss is recovered over the long term since the tyre’s service life and mileage performance are optimised, but nevertheless, this loss is real and can be quantified at the time. In order to reduce the time spent checking tyres and improve their traceability, several tyre manufacturers have developed radio frequency identification device chips. These chips are only a few centimetres long and their weights vary between a few tenths and tens of grams, depending on their functions. Yet, they have required six billion kilometres of testing over a seven year development periodbefore being validated by Michelin. Ultimately, for fleet managers, the principle is simple, although it differs from one tyre manufacturer to another. The RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) chip is a tool to store and transfer data. It can contain all information relating to the tyre that is usually found on the sidewall, but which is sometimes erased or on the inner tyre of a dual fitment.
The use of RFID chip technology in tyres is not new since Goodyear, who uses it in the Regional RHT II RFID, introduced it several years ago in the NASCARchampionship in the United States.
However, the commercial use of RFID chips in the truck world is more recent. In 2012, Michelin inaugurated it on its X InCity tyres that equipped London buses during the Olympic Games. Michelin’s RFID chip is built into the tyre when it is manufactured, and is paired up with the TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system, in real time). Besides making tyre identification easier, it also reads the tyre’s pressure and temperature, by simply approaching a hand-held scanner, like a barcode reader. It is also possible to “write” to the chip to update tyre information. It does not prevent regrooving or retreading operations, it does not need a battery and has a longer service life than that of the tyre.
Pirelli propose a different system, where an external device is placed inside the tyre. It includes a RFID chip and pressure and temperature sensors. Data can be downloaded when the vehicle stops, but can also be transferred to a computer, via GPRS, GSM or satellite when the vehicle is on the move.