Following a successful pilot installation on the M6 at Keele Services (pictured; click link below for more information), Highways England is now running year-long trials of the system with John Lewis at Milton Keynes, AW Jenkinson Transport at Penrith, and the DVSA check site at Cuerden, on the M62.
The trials were announced yesterday (30 April) at the Commercial Vehicle Show. They are being funded by Highways England’s designated fund for innovation.
The WheelRight system comprises a set of high-intensity strobe lights, all-weather cameras and drive-over pressure instruments installed at the transport depot – all collecting huge amounts of data within seconds.
This data is analysed to provide results instantly to the driver and/or fleet manager. Daily and weekly reports include: tyre pressures (pass or fail based on predetermined levels); tread depths (pass or fail based on specified levels); tyre temperatures (early identification of problem tyres or wheels); tyre condition (via a 360o photographic image of the tread); and Weigh in Motion data/axle weights.
While cameras and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) confirm the identification of each tractor unit, trailers are recognised by the system using RFID tags.
WheelRight’s web interface also provides managers with 24/7 access to fleet tyre health.
Garry Burns, primary transport manager for John Lewis, said: "We've had the WheelRight system in place for several months now. The reporting information is very clear and gives us all the information about the state of our tyres. It's going really well and the drivers have bought into it, too. In our opinion, it's an important piece of kit to have. I'd like to see it in more of our sites."
Ian McGregor, head of fleet management at AW Jenkinson Transport, said: “So far, the system has been very beneficial to us. Having the tyre pressure feature alone is a major plus, because we can catch any issues at source, so trucks aren’t going down the road with faulty tyres – potentially causing a lot of problems.
“The temperature monitoring of the hubs gives us warning if there is a caliper sticking or a wheel bearing on its way out. And tread depth obviously speaks for itself – it’s all-important to a well-run fleet.”
Prior to installation of the WheelRight system at Cuerden, DVSA checks were carried out by visual checks and manual gauges. Now, this task is automated, meaning more vehicles can be checked.
John Walford, incident prevention team leader for Highways England, said: “It’s a proven technology that fleet managers really need to test out for themselves.
“In just a few months, drivers and fleet managers from John Lewis, AW Jenkinson and the DVSA are already seeing the positive impact this system is having on their tyre management and inspection. It’s making our roads safer, reducing operational costs and improving fleet efficiencies in one fell swoop.”
John Catling, chief executive of WheelRight, said: “Highways England should be commended for its active support of our UK-developed technology, which is set to revolutionise the way fleets monitor and manage their tyres… I am confident that once fleet operators see the benefits of the technology, they’ll never go back to unreliable, manual tyre checking.”