Wireless technology has advanced the science of tire tracking to the point that these expensive assets can literally be self-managed, according to Arsenault Associates. The firm has announced its Dossier Tire Management System, which it said will fully automate tire data collection, allowing fleets the ability to minimize tire expense and reduce equipment downtime by using technology to manage tires, regardless of brand.

According to the company, the system will spot problems by identifying the condition of the fleet’s tires, noting tires with chronic under-inflation problems or at the minimum tread depth for recapping.

Arsenault said the system also has tracking capabilities. It can identify which tires need to be reordered and which tires are still at vendors. All this information can then be used to assess tires’ efficiency and calculate total tire cost per mile or per hour by vehicle, according to each fleet’s individual needs.

“Tire management poses a real challenge for fleet maintenance professionals,” said Charles Arsenault, CEO of Arsenault Associates. “The problem has been that the cost and man power necessary to collect the enormous amount of tire data necessary to manage tires has equaled or surpassed the savings derived from the effort. That marginalizes the value of a manual tire management program.”

The system includes the Dossier Tribe Probe, a handheld tread depth and air pressure device the company said will communicate wirelessly with a PDA utilizing Pocket Dossier, the mobile version Arsenault’s fleet maintenance system.

Each tire will be affixed with a bar-coded rubber tag incorporated with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip, the company said, making it easy for a tire mechanic to scan the bar code with the Pocket Dossier PDA and display information about the truck’s tires. The mechanic then can use the Dossier Tire Probe to measure the air pressure and tread depth electronically, wirelessly transmitting the data to the shop’s full Dossier software system. The system will then alert the mechanic if any issues have been found with the tire, generating a repair order or work order on the spot if necessary.

“The promise of self-managing tires with built-in wireless sensors and the ability to wirelessly transmit the data in real time is the Holy Grail of tire management,” Arsenault observed, “but currently it remains elusive in an affordable form for most fleets. Meanwhile, the cost of tires continues to escalate and fleets need to manage their large investment in tires now. The Dossier Tire Management does the job and does it well.”

Testing of the Dossier Tire Management system has begun at selected fleets. According to the company, the product should be commercially available sometime in early 2008.