Wheely-Safe introduces wheel & tyre solution for heavy fleets
UK technology company Wheely-Safe has launched ‘Michelin Wheel Security and Tyre Pressure Management System Heavy Fleet’, a solution aimed at truck, bus, coach, trailer and heavy plant operators and designed to tackle the issues of wheel loss and brake and hub overheating. Wheely-Safe says this patented solution is the world’s first in-motion driver alert system that detects the onset of wheel loss before detachment; it also warns the driver of potential brake or hub issues that could lead to a fire if unchecked, as well as tyre over- or under-inflation.
The system’s sensors straddle two nuts on each wheel and are kept in place by a specially-designed bracket. If a nut starts to loosen by just 1mm of movement, a signal alerting the driver to pull over is instantly transmitted to the solar-powered display unit in the cab. When connected to the vehicle’s telematics system, alerts can also be sent directly to a fleet’s control centre.
Due to its location next to the wheel rim and braking mechanism, Michelin Wheel Security & TPMS Heavy Fleet’s onboard heat sensor can also detect brake issues involving low or high temperatures, including when they exceed 100ºC – a reading that could indicate maintenance issues such as sticking brakes or hub failure.
Wheely-Safe, a global Michelin licensee, says the system is a cost-effective solution for reducing the potential of catastrophic wheel loss incidents and brake issues, which can lead to loss of life, damage to vehicles and buildings, damage to reputation, roadside prohibitions, vehicle downtime, vehicle recovery and increased insurance premiums.
“We’ve taken an entirely fresh approach to tackling wheel loss,” says Gary Broadfield, group managing director of Wheely-Safe and the inventor behind the technology. “Existing solutions such as indicator tags can only detect potential wheel loss situations on stationary vehicles; but wheels don’t detach when a vehicle is parked!
“Our technology means that for the first time ever, a driver will receive an alert the instant a potential wheel loss issue is detected,” Broadfield continues. “No matter what speed they are travelling, or in what weather conditions – allowing them to pull over safely.”
“A detached wheel from a commercial vehicle has been likened by academics to a bouncing bomb, potentially colliding with other road users at an equivalent force of around ten tonnes. That’s not a scenario any driver or fleet owner wants to experience,” comments Steve Jackson, managing director of Wheely-Safe. “The Michelin Wheel Security & TPMS Heavy Fleet system can be fitted in a matter of minutes thanks to our smart auto pairing and auto calibration technology and has been designed to be extremely durable, monitoring tyres with pressures of up to 188 psi.”
It is complemented with an inbuilt tyre pressure management system (TPMS) – the same technology seen with the Michelin TPMS Light Fleet system for car, van, minibus and light plant operators. It comprises a set of robust TPMS sensors that replace the traditional valve caps and auto-pair with the in-cab display unit. The system works with any brand of tyre and can monitor up to 50 tyres on a journey – Wheely-Safe comments that its auto-pairing technology is thus perfect for artic fleets where tractors regularly pull different trailers, and even for coaches pulling luggage trailers.
If pressures drop by 7.5 per cent, a silent alarm is sent via the telematics system to the transport office, allowing the fleet manager to take action when the vehicle returns to base. If the pressures drop by 15 per cent, a visual and audible alert is sent to the driver via the in-cab display unit – with the alarm intensifying if the pressure drop exceeds 24 per cent or if fast leakage of 2 psi per minute occurs in any tyre. The sensors will also send a silent alarm to the fleet manager if any tyre is over-inflated by 20 per cent or more, and to the driver with over-inflation of 30 per cent or more.
The system can be supplied with a contactless tyre pressure checker which, when held next to the sensor, displays the exact pressure via the digital readout – without the hassle of connecting a traditional pressure gauge to the valve. It will also display the heat recorded from the wheel loss sensor over the last 24 hours, helping the operator diagnose potential issues with the vehicle braking system and hub problems.
Fleets connecting the system to on-board telematics can even run checks to ensure drivers carry out their daily tyre inspections prior to setting out. And the system’s overnight mode sends a low-pressure message, via the telematics, allowing the maintenance team to make corrective action before the driver even arrives at the depot. Even without telematics, this mode will alert a driver upon entering the cab.