Putting the Pressure On
One of the less heralded – but no less important – components of the motorsport tyre setup is without doubt the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS). BERU f1systems – a company entirely owned by parent company BERU AG, though also a separate financial entity – supplies such devices, along with other components, such as electrical, stress management and composite systems, to world class motorsport competitors in every major Formula, including all the Formula One teams. Tyres & Accessories took the opportunity of the 2008 Motorsport Review to speak with applications engineer, James Shingleton, about how the company is spreading its wings commercially away from the motorsports arena, and how its experience of working in sport has enabled BERU f1systems to offer top-level TPMSs to ultra-high performance cars and commercial vehicles.
Founded in 1993, BERU f1systems’ depth of experience in motorsport has allowed the company to be at the forefront of demanding development opportunities, emphasising the importance of creative thinking, implementing new technologies and rapidity of response to new requirements. The last seven years have seen the organisation charged with a task beyond that of remodelling existing systems. Shingleton states that in this period, the demands of the motorsport market grew more challenging thanks to the greater emphasis placed upon environmental requirements. Therefore the company took on the challenge of developing new systems for the market and for wider commercial usage, leading to the current range of products.
Leading this range in the motorsport arena is the DigiTyre TPMS, designed to provide fast, accurate information and to accommodate speedy wheel changes, as the system is able to “learn” new sensors without altering the software; a feature of the system’s automated recognition and calibration routine. Additionally, the high strength and lightweight PEEK-housed wheel electronics are easily mounted onto the rear of a modified valve, making installation straightforward. The unit weighs only 35g, which – Shingleton explains – makes it particularly suited to high-speed environments, in which the effective mass of the unit rises.
This is the feature that made the company’s units particularly attractive to Bugatti and Michelin, when they made the decision to fit the Veyron with a variation on BERU f1systems’ DigiTyre TPMS as original equipment, says Shingleton. The fitment, he continues, provided the company with its introduction to the OE-market on road cars, with subsequent expansion including work with the Lamborghini Gallardo.
This spreading of the company’s expertise was also prompted and indeed aided by the TREAD Act in the USA, which led to the requirement that all US passenger vehicles and light trucks sold in the USA be fitted with a pressure monitoring system. Therefore, as well as the market for ultra-high performance road cars, BERU f1systems has exploited the possibility of supplying commercial fleets with the TPMS. Company research found that as much as 90 per cent of trucks ran with tyre pressures 5psi lower than recommended. Therefore the firm believed there was a market for the product among fleet managers seeking to cut fuel and tyre costs and has since been supplying specially tweaked units to commercial vehicle runners. Particularly of note are the company’s OE links to manufacturers such as Prevost and Novabus.
Shingleton also emphasised that growth areas for the company included clubman level motorsport – where the newer DigiTyre Light TPMS now costs under £1,000, making it affordable to hobbyists – and in development and testing centres, where the TPMS’ portability and the ease with which it is transferred to other cars and tyres makes it a time-saver.
BERU f1systems still supplies TPMSs to all major racing formulae, including a number of Formula One teams, the WRC, IndyCar, Rally Raid and Nascar. It is based in Diss, Norfolk and employs 75 people.