Underinflated tyres cause exces-sive tread wear; excessive fuel con- sumption; damaged sidewalls, eli- minating the opportunity of further retreads; tread cracking; and result in accidents.
Pearman goes on to point out that some 350 deaths occur each year in the South African trucking and bus industries owing to tyre and brake failure.
However, Pearman tells Engi-neering News in an exclusive inter-view that, owing to revolutionary developments by his company, all these problems can simply and efficiently be eliminated. There are also many other benefits for users of the N-Tyre System (NTS). He is confident that his brainchild, the NTS, can prevent potential losses by timeously alerting the driver of any irregularities regarding the tyres, brakes and bearings.
The system is the result of ten years of intensive research and development by Pearman, and it is believed that the NTS should be readily available to the market by March next year. He emphasises that it is essentially ready for production, but he wants to make absolutely certain that everything functions perfectly prior to the official launch. Pearman has already collected numerous awards for the N-Tyre system including the Age of Inno-vation and Sustainability Award, the Deloitte & Touche Innovation Award and the SABS Design Insti-tute Award.
The system comprises several components, namely, the tag attached to each tyre, the trailer identity unit (TIU), the dual hub unit (DHU) and the main cab display unit (MCDU), which all function together to alert the driver of any potential problems, such as pressure loss, a malfunc-tioning brake, a wheel lock, or tread separation.
The MCDU includes GPS and GSM fitted in the dashboard in place of a conventional radio but also features an am/fm radio so that the driver is not deprived of his radio.
If any problem is detected by the system, the radio automatically switches off, a warning alarm sounds and a message is displayed on the LCD screen.
The driver then has to press the cancel button to silence the alarm and switch the radio on again. Failure by the driver to attend to the problem after a specific level results in three SMSs being sent to various more-senior management personnel, notifying them of the non-response from the driver. All events are stored and are avail- able for management to evaluate on the sophisticated NTS software.
The pressures and temperatures of brakes and bearings are checked by the DHU and this information is transmitted to the MCDU every 15 seconds.
Pearman says that the three main challenges faced in the development of the NTS were that of power for the DHU, the automatic recognition of a different trailer, and the trans-mission of signals from the tyres to the MCDU.
To overcome the challenge of power, Pearman developed a self-gen- erating system that uses the rotation of the wheel to create the necessary power. He explains that other systems offered to South Africa are battery-powered, unreliable, limited in the number of wheels they can handle, unable to ‘self-check’, and only work on dedicated horse-and-trailers. Pearman was able to solve these problems through innovation.
It is undesirable for the signals of one vehicle to be received by another, yet a horse may have to carry a number of different trailers at different times.
The NTS is unique in its ability to recognise automatically the trailer attached to itself and ignore all others.
“The NTS is sealed and main-tenance-free and its software requires minimum human input in order to produce its information,” Pearman tells Engineering News.
Advantages Self-proclaimed ‘jack-of-all-trades’, Pearman says, “unlike similar pro- ducts that were adapted from motor-car technology, the N-Tyre System was designed specifically for trucks, and the advantages of using it are substantial”.
Firstly, Pearman highlights that the two major costs incurred by the heavy-duty transport industry are tyres and fuel, both of which the NTS is able to reduce.
Underinflated tyres cause increased fuel consumption, and a tyre with a low pressure will cause excessive wear on both itself and the adjacent tyre.
It is also difficult to accurately monitor tyre pressure when, accord-ing to Pearman, analogue tyre-pres- sure gauges can be up to 60% inac-curate, this figure accentuated by survey results showing that one-third of all South African trucks leaving the yard have incorrectly-inflated tyres.
He goes on to say that the NTS’s tyre-pressure gauge is 99,5% accur-ate.
Flowing from the yearly death toll on South African roads in the trucking and bus industry, he claims that companies using his system will not only be saving money, but lives too.
Further, he claims that, after an average of six months, the product will have paid for itself through fuel and tyre savings, neg- ating all the other haz-ardous and costly problems for which it provides an early warning.
This is partly attributed to the fact that the average amount of retreads a heavy-duty tyre undergoes in South Africa is one-and-a-half, and Pearman purports that, through proper inflation, the number of retreads per casing can be closer to six.
The NTS’s software produces ans- wers to questions that the industry has always had yet has been unable to answer– such as the distance travelled by a tyre, its current value, an accurate prediction of its life, which route is harsher on tyres (and by how much), and which manu- facturer provides the best value.
Currently, the company has a factory in Midrand, but is planning to grow operations to a nationwide level over the upcoming year.
The uniquely-coded tag on each tyre also monitors tyre theft and fraud from drivers and in the store, and can pinpoint exactly which tyre has been changed, where and when it was changed, and even sends an SMS should a tyre be removed from the vehicle on the way.
The prospects of Pearman’s sys-tem appear to be favourable. Indeed, he reports that certain large companies have already offered to buy him out in order to quash the product. He has also been approached by Spoornet to discuss the potential rail applications of the system, he says.