Last October I had the opportunity to participate in a panel that discussed technologies that will contribute to the development of smart cities. The topics on that panel ranged from connected, self-driving vehicles to smarter highways. A particular project called “The Ray” caught my attention. The Ray is an organization (named after Ray C. Anderson, an environmental pioneer) that is committed to zero waste, zero deaths, and zero carbon on highways.
In Western Georgia, there is an 18-mile stretch of highway now named “The Ray” where new innovative technologies are being tested. The Ray, along with Kia Motors and the Georgia Department of Transportation, installed a system called “WheelRight.” WheelRight is currently is available (and free) to anyone who stops at the West Point Visitor Center at mile marker one. WheelRight allows vehicles to drive through a specialized lane and captures tire pressure readings on all four tires while also providing tire tread depth within a few seconds on a touchscreen monitor and printed receipt.
Most fleet organizations have these three items rank among their highest expenses: personnel, fuel, and tires. While I am not sure how many tire failures are related to underinflation or tread problems (probably a higher correlation among heavier vehicles), I am certain that most tire failures result in more impactful collateral damages such as towing, road-calls, accidents, and worst of all, injuries or deaths. And it’s not just the failures that will impact you — underinflated tires decrease fuel efficiency, among other things.
Just imagine not having to rely on pre- or post-trip inspections for the condition of your tire tread or tire pressure, assuming departments are actually conducting them. Imagine if you could reduce all of those other, more significant, expenses caused by tire failures that could have been avoided. It seems that this is a promising technology that could help fleet managers and equipment operators do just that.
Keep an eye on The Ray and WheelRight to see how testing progresses.