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 software developer says its new Dossier Tire Management System will fully automate tire data collection, allowing fleets 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 says the system also has tracking capabilities, identifying 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 applications.

The new system is currently undergoing field tests with a number of fleets and will be commercially available some time later this year, according to the company.

“Tire management poses a real challenge for fleet maintenance professionals,” says 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 new Arsenault system includes the Dossier Tribe Probe, a handheld tread depth and air pressure device the company says 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 housing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip, the company says, 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 can 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 says, “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.”