SAN ANTONIO. At a fleet seminar held here this week, executives of Pressure Systems International (PSI) and its distribution partner Meritor updated attendees on the sales progress the two firms have made and sought to educate them further on the singular importance of keeping tires properly pressurized as well as on how fully quality control is the watchword in the manufacturing of the automatic Meritor Tire Inflation System (MTIS) by PSI.

In addition, there was some talk of future product innovations being worked on by Meritor using PSI system components.

(See photos of the tire inflation system)

According to Meritor, PSI has so far sold over 350,000 systems in North America and PSI said it has placed its systems on 500,000 trailers and container chassis in 39 countries worldwide and now holds a 38% market share with OE trailer makers.

Meritor announced back in May it will continue to distribute MTIS via renewal of a strategic alliance with PSI. Meritor is the exclusive distributor of new and retrofit MTIS installation kits and PSI remains responsible for the design and manufacture of the kits, including its ThermAlert system, a high-temperature wheel-end warning system available on all MTIS kits.

(See video from the event)

Frank Sonzala, executive vp of PSI, pointed out that tires remain a fleet’s number-one maintenance costs and that over 90% of the “road gators” that litter the highways are due to the under inflation of tires, regardless of whether the tires that failed were new or retreads.

He said the problem has always been that “checking tire inflation is seen as a time-consuming and dirty task and the gauges used are often inaccurate. And it’s the trailer tires that are most often the victim of this neglect.

Sonzala said that even if tires are properly checked, air loss just via osmosis through the casing will amount to 1 to 4 PSI per month, depending on a given tire’s inner-liner compound. Then there are tread punctures and sidewall damage that release yet more air over time. Besides brewing a recipe for road gators, he pointed out that “under inflation eventually leads to irregular tire wear and that to premature removal of tires. Tire punctures also increase with under-inflated tires and a longer footprint results as the rubber becomes hotter and softer.”

According to Sonzala, under inflation leads to more than flat tires and road calls. But automatic tire inflation, he stressed, can increase tire life; maximize casing life; reduce on-road expenses and downtime; cut overall fuel expense; and help increase safety.

Al Cohn, PSI’s director of new market development & engineering support, spoke to fuel economy, explaining that there’s a 5:1 ratio for tire pounds per square inch to miles per gallon. “The lengthening of the tire’s footprint due to under inflation,” he stated, “has a substantial impact on fuel economy.”

He related that a study conducted by PSI revealed these fuel-economy factors to consider:

  • The specific tire make and model can have a significant impact on rolling resistance and thus how greatly the tire may contribute to fuel efficiency
  • There is a direct correlation between the size of a tire’s footprint and rolling resistance
  • Under-inflation has a significant negative effect on fuel economy for both new and retreaded tires.

Cohn also pointed out that tire inflation plays a role in securing good CSA scores and with that in mind, fleets should be aware that some tire gauges can be off by 15 PSI +/- and therefore certified dial gauges, which typically vary +/- 1 PSI, are preferred.

During a tour of the PSI manufacturing plant here, executives stepped back at each assembly-line station to allow PSI line managers to explain in their own words the given process they were responsible for and the numerous quality checks that were built into each step along the way. Sonzala told the group that “every key component is tested 100% using our own made-in-house test equipment” to help ensure what is shipped out does not get returned.

At the event, Meritor’s Craig Frohock, general manager, North American trailer, told Fleet Owner that while PSI already makes steer- and drive-axle automatic tire-inflations systems for [more temperate] export markets, Meritor has begun working on an automatic drive-axle tire inflation system for North American applications using PSI components.

Frohock said once the drive system is ready to launch, it would likely be offered with an automatic steer-axle system Meirtor has developed to “provide a complete automatic tire inflation system for trucks package.”