Said to be the world’s first in-motion driver alert system of its kind, the Michelin Wheel Security & Tyre Pressure Management System Heavy Fleet uses patented technology to detect the onset of wheel loss before detachment, as well as warning the driver of potential brake or hub issues that could lead to a fire.
The system also warns the driver of over- or under-inflated tyres.
Robust sensors straddle two wheel nuts thanks to a specially designed bracket, with a pair fitted to each wheel. If a nut starts to loosen by just 1mm of movement, a signal is instantly transmitted to the solar-powered display unit in the cab, alerting the driver to pull over. When connected to the vehicle’s telematics system, alerts can also be sent directly to the transport office.
Due to its location next to the wheel rim and braking mechanism, the system’s onboard heat sensor can also detect brake issues involving low or high temperatures, including when they exceed 100ºC – a reading that could indicate maintenance issues such as sticking brakes or hub failure.
Wheely-Safe, a global Michelin licensee, says the system is a cost-effective solution for reducing the potential of catastrophic wheel loss incidents and brake issues.
Gary Broadfield, Wheely-Safe’s group managing director and the system’s inventor, says: “We’ve taken an entirely fresh approach to tackling wheel loss. Existing solutions such as indicator tags can only detect potential wheel loss situations on stationary vehicles, but wheels don’t detach when a vehicle is parked.
“Our technology means that, for the first time ever, a driver will receive an alert the instant a potential wheel loss issue is detected – no matter what speed they are travelling, or in what weather conditions – allowing them to pull over safely.”
Steve Jackson, managing director of Wheely-Safe, adds: “A detached wheel from a commercial vehicle has been likened by academics to a bouncing bomb, potentially colliding with other road users at an equivalent force of around 10 tonnes. That’s not a scenario any driver or fleet owner wants to experience.
“The Michelin Wheel Security & TPMS Heavy Fleet system can be fitted in a matter of minutes thanks to our smart auto pairing and auto calibration technology, and has been designed to be extremely durable, monitoring tyres with pressures of up to 188psi.”
The system’s inbuilt tyre pressure management system (TPMS) uses the same technology as Wheely-Safe’s Michelin TPMS Light Fleet system for car, van, minibus and light plant operators.
TPMS sensors replace the traditional valve caps and auto-pair with the display unit, which fixes on to the cab windscreen. The system can be fitted to any brand of tyre and can monitor up to 50 tyres on a journey – with Wheely-Safe’s auto-pairing technology making it ideal for artic fleets where tractors regularly pull different trailers, and even for coaches pulling luggage trailers.
If the pressures drop by 7.5%, a silent alarm is sent via the telematics system to the transport office, allowing the fleet manager to take action when the vehicle returns to base. If the pressures drop by 15%, a visual and audible alert is sent to the driver via the in-cab display unit – with the alarm intensifying if the pressure drop exceeds 24% or if fast leakage of 2psi per minute occurs in any tyre. The sensors will also send a silent alarm to the fleet manager if any tyre is over-inflated by 20% or more, and to the driver with over-inflation of 30% or more.
The system can be supplied with a contactless tyre pressure checker which displays the pressure via the digital readout. It will also display the heat recorded from the wheel loss sensor over the last 24 hours, to help operators diagnose potential issues with the vehicle braking system and hub problems.
If the system is connected to on-board telematics, operators can run checks to ensure drivers carry out tyre inspections as part of their daily walk-around checks. The system’s overnight mode sends a low-pressure message, via the telematics, allowing the maintenance team to make corrective action before the driver even arrives at the depot. Even without telematics, this mode will also alert a driver as soon as he gets into the cab.