Jason McDaniel | Bulk Transporter

Under pressure: Fleets target tire efficiency in Alamo City

Dec. 6, 2023
Annual Fleet Tech Event by P.S.I. and Meritor details tire inflation system benefits, delivers key OOS update and presentations by ATA, NACFE, CVSA leaders in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—Pressure Systems International (P.S.I.) leaders estimate 75-80% of new trailers come equipped with an automatic tire inflation system, and 2/3rds of those are the Meritor Tire Inflation System (MTIS) by P.S.I. That’s an imposing market share P.S.I. expects to grow next year—and still tells only half of its success story.

The 30-year-old Texas-based company is well positioned to capitalize on upcoming legislation that requires all European trailers manufactured after July 2024 to feature automatic tire inflation or tire pressure monitoring systems, and many U.S. fleets still are retrofitting older trailers with MTIS systems to increase tire life and fuel economy and reduce costly breakdowns that leave drivers stranded on the roadside.

“We’ll likely start running it,” Joe Blankenship, FMC Transport fleet operations manager, predicted after attending the 2023 Fleet Tech Event hosted by P.S.I. and Cummins-Meritor Nov. 15-16. “We’ll probably do some retrofits to see how it works and go from there, and maybe start spec’ing the system on new tank trailers in the future.

“It has a lot more to offer than what we’re currently using.”

Those offerings include visual tire pressure and wheel-end alerts, integrated telematics that enable predictive maintenance, and, starting in April 2024, newly won guidelines in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria handbook that will allow trucks with operable automatic tire inflation systems to avoid falling out of service—even when a tire has a noticeable leak.

“The tire will still be documented as a violation,” Wayne Skinner, Ozark Motor Lines vice president of fleet maintenance, noted enthusiastically. “However, this update will afford us the flexibility to repair the tire before the vehicle is re-dispatched—and will reduce the total CSA [Compliance, Safety, Accountability] score impact.

“Updates like this encourage fleets to make investments and adopt technologies that are designed to make them safer and more efficient.”

The long-running event also offered more than P.S.I.’s standard return-on-investment pitch on the benefits of tire inflation, and disadvantages of deflation, delivering presentations by Kerri Wirachowsky, CVSA director of inspection programs—who’s responsible for updating the OOSC handbook—Mike Roeth, North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) executive director; and Chris Spear, who detailed his journey to leading the American Trucking Associations as its ninth president and CEO, called out the political divisiveness truckers face today, and praised P.S.I., Meritor, and Cummins for their leadership and innovation.

“These are companies with immense pedigree—established brands that absolutely contribute real solutions for our industry and the economy,” Spear said.

For complete coverage, see the story by EBM's Bulk Transporter here.