Highways England (HE) is undertaking live tests of a technology thatcould help reduce truck tire failures by 75% on the country’s strategic roadnetwork (SRN), improving safety and cutting the economic cost caused by delays due to tire-related incidents.
Having assessed a pilot installation of WheelRight’s drive-over tire management system at Keele Services on the M6 motorway, HE is now running year-long tests of the technology with: the John Lewis Partnership, in Milton Keynes; AW Jenkinson Transport, in Penrith; and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) vehicle check site, in Cuerden (the M62).
Installed at each location during February, the tire inspection system is already proving its potential as a fleet management tool within the haulage sector and assisting enforcement. The research has been financed by HE’s Designated Fund for Innovation.
Based on worldwide patented technology, the WheelRight system consists of 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. While cameras and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) confirm the identification of each tractor unit, trailers are recognized by the system using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags. The high quality of proven data this creates enables fleet managers to gain complete control of their fleet’s tires, spotting trends and potential problems before they happen. WheelRight has developed a sophisticated web interface that provides 24/7 access to every element of a fleet’s tire health.
The purpose of the equipment is to provide information to the driver or to the fleet or transport manager, and not to say whether the vehicle is roadworthy. Data released by HE last year confirmed that almost three-quarters of commercial vehicle motorway incidents caused by tire failure could be prevented if fleets carried out simple, regular checks on tire condition. Better tire management would also reduce casualties caused by tire failures on England’s motorway network every year. Between April 2015 and August 2016, 58,612 tire-related breakdown incidents were recorded on the SRN, 34% of them involving commercial vehicles
“Our pilot tests with John Lewis, AW Jenkinson and the DVSA are designed to demonstrate the value of the technology,” said HE’s incident prevention team leader, John Walford. “Investing in and using technology is part of our long-term strategy to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads. Reducing these tire-related issues also increases operational efficiency by drastically cutting the number of emergency roadside call-outs seen by UK fleets.”
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 revolutionize the way fleets monitor and manage their tires. These three pilots put the UK at the forefront of the transport industry, setting new safety standards that other road management bodies and transport planners across the globe will be keen to adopt.”
Tony Pratt, a driver at the John Lewis depot, said, “As a piece of technology, it’s just incredible that something can measure the tire pressure and tread depth in the time it takes to drive over the kit.”