Tire Safety Solution Digitizes Inspections

Published: January 8, 2024

Zonar has rolled out its electronic verified inspection reporting which can leverage Bluetooth, RFID

For companies operating fleets of commercial vehicles, tracking conditions of hundreds or thousands of tires can be a complex challenge. While tires are a part of every pre- and post-trip inspection, they are often a reason for a vehicle’s delay, poor fuel efficiency or–worse still–an accident.

Inspections traditionally could be missed or simply not recorded properly to create real time data about the condition of each tire while in operation.

To address this challenge, Zonar Systems is offering its Electronic Verified Inspection Reporting (EVIR) solution. It works with radio frequency identification (RFID) to make inspection processes faster, and to create a digital record of each inspection as well as enable alerting.

Safer Roads

The system would mean safer vehicles on the road and fewer tire-related delays, says Bryant Maxey, senior product marketing specialist at Zonar.

By leveraging RFID tags attached on vehicles, users can link inspection data with the specific tire, and create a record of the tire’s condition and any maintenance.

Tire maintenance has been an ongoing challenge for fleets, Maxey says. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), tire-based roadside violations have ranked within the top 20 violations for the last five years. In 2023 it was ranked number nine.

Tire Maintenance Challenges

Tire management is a safety issue first, but impacts efficiency and productivity as well. Last year, 20 percent of all vehicle out-of-service violations were related to flat or underinflated tires.

Maxey points to a variety of conditions and issues that could impact tire tread, including stop-and-go traffic, irregular loading, overloading and frequent braking and acceleration. This can compromise the total life of the tire bringing more repair and replacement costs to the fleet.

It’s also about monitoring air pressure. According to the Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC), a tire that’s underinflated by 10-psi or more can reduce the casing life by 20 percent, and the tread life by 15 percent.

Additionally, tire temperature or tire pressure can increase fuel costs and potential breakdowns

“It’s a fine balance to ensure tires are maintained properly,” commented Maxey.

Outdated Systems for Tire Inspection

Today, many vehicle fleet owners only monitor tire pressure reactively. And the methods are not high-tech—historically companies have checked tire pressure with wooden mallets or stick gauges.

That’s where solutions such as proactive tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) offer a faster and more automated solution. With Zonar’s TPMS system, drivers, dispatchers and technicians can see tire pressure levels and temperature, or receive alerts in real time.

Zonar users have access to data about the condition of their fleets’ tires, and they can share that data with drivers.

Zonar’s TPMS – How it Works

Zonar provides HF 13.56 MHz RFID tags which are affixed in key inspection zones around the vehicle, including above the tires. The driver uses a handheld device with built-in RFID reader as they go about inspection.

At each tire, users first read the RFID tag’s unique ID, which links to data related to the tire’s history in the EVIR software. They can then conduct inspection, update any information, and the data is sent via an LTE cellular connection. That unit can then forward all relevant data to a server in the cloud.

The data also can be integrated into the company’s own maintenance software.

Use by Management

Management can use the system to view their entire fleet and remotely identify the exact tire that is outside of recommended pressure or temperature parameters, and drivers can view tire pressure updates through their in-cab tablet.

“Through this technology and active monitoring process, fleets can ensure they maintain healthy tires, to save on fuel and replacement costs, enhance safety, and maximize the lifespan of tires,” says Maxey.

EVIR also help fleets automate inspection scheduling based on vehicle usage and integrations with their maintenance system.

Alerting to Ensure Tire Safety

With the technology, drivers can access data from the software to perform inspections only when needed. Since manual checks and inspections can be difficult during extreme cold and hot temperatures, EVIR provides real-time customizable alerts. These alerts can be displayed on an app, tablet, online portal or directly via text message or email.

The solution is being adopted by tire manufacturer Continental for an integrated solution. Continental’s digital tire monitoring system, ContiConnect Live, provides real-time insight into each tire on each Zonar-enabled vehicle through Zonar’s V4 TCU.

The V4 transmits data to the ContiConnect Live Web Portal and the ContiConnect Live Driver App. This offers drivers and fleet managers a view into the status of vehicles’ tires.

Dispatch and fleet managers use the web portal to access data, alerts, statistics and reports. The portal provides tire information for every vehicle and is enabled to provide mobile alert updates.

Real-time Updates

Drivers use the ContiConnect Live Driver App on their Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3, with Zonar, to look at their vehicle’s tire health in real-time.

“Now, they can take a more proactive approach to maintaining safe tires with detailed visibility into their tires’ status—from their tablet, without leaving their cab,” Maxey says.

The Central Control Unit utilizes Bluetooth to communicate with the driver application for real-time tire pressure.

RFID use will continue to streamline the driver inspection process by providing accurate data into the inspections, says Maxey.

“[That] helps give maintenance teams insight into tire health and help prioritize maintenance schedules and work orders,” he says.

Key Takeaways:
  • Zonar Systems’ EVIS solution provides RFID and Bluetooth based data about tire status, health and inspection.
  • With the technology, which has been adopted by Continental, drivers and fleet managers can ensure vehicles’ tires are properly maintained before they hit the road.