HILTON HEAD, S.C.—A connected tire ecosystem of advanced tread design, retreading and advanced communications is the future of the commercial truck tire industry, a Bridgestone executive said at the 34th Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference.
"This is a pivotal moment in the truck tire industry," Joseph Saoud, president, truck, bus and retread, U.S. & Canada, for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, said at the Clemson conference, which was held April 18-20 in Hilton Head.
The three macro trends in the vehicle industry are autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles and shared mobility, according to Saoud.
"When these converge, they will revolutionize the industry," he said. "Depending on who you talk to, it will happen in 10 years or much sooner than that. The commercial truck tire industry will first feel this, because fleets have so much to gain by streamlining their operations."
Nevertheless, the advent of autonomous vehicles leaves many unanswered questions, some of them very basic, according to Saoud.
"Who's going to change the tire on a driverless vehicle?" he said.
To reap the benefits of innovation, efficiency and sustainability in this new transportation world, commercial truck tire makers must take a proactive approach in creating a connected tire ecosystem for themselves and their customers, according to Saoud.
"Tire manufacturers must focus on delivering holistic tire solutions, leveraging analytics and pairing insights with superior products and service to maximize tire performance," he said.
"If we can do this, greater efficiency for all stakeholders will follow," he said.
Live monitoring and the transmission of real-time information from trucks to tire service centers is key to the success of a connected tire ecosystem, according to Saoud.
Bridgestone, he said, already is doing this for its off-the-road tire customers.
"Maintaining tire pressure and temperature, with real-time updates, identifies problems before they become an incident," he said.
Bridgestone is working on updates to its 24/7/365 truck tire service program that will lower downtime and increase consistency, according to Saoud. "The service goes beyond emergencies," he said.
Radio frequency identification chips also will open many more opportunities for truck fleets than most people realize, including large-scale tire leasing operations paid for strictly by electronic means, according to Saoud.
Saoud touted Bridgestone's Ecopia tire line. The tire's advanced tread design, guaranteeing both long tire life and low rolling resistance, allow truck fleets to save $1,393 per truck over comparable tires when Ecopia is used in all drive positions, he said.
A modern truck tire can last for 1 million miles if it has a premium casing, proper maintenance and quality retreads, according to Saoud.
"Casings could conceivably last the life of the truck," he said.
Retreads need 68 percent less oil in their manufacture than a new tire and reduce tire waste by 1 billion pounds annually, according to Saoud.
"Premium retreads, like Bandag, perform like comparable premium new tires and offer some of the lowest rolling resistance on the road," he said.
Retreads are used on school buses, UPS trucks and Air Force One, among a few of their more prominent customers, according to Saoud. They save the trucking industry more than $3 billion annually, he said.
Retreads also are good for local economies, according to Saoud. Bridgestone Bandag alone boasts some 250 retread plants and supports some 50,000 direct or indirect jobs in the U.S. and Canada, he said
"Retreads are a reliable, profitable and sustainable choice for fleets of all sizes, maximizing tire asset potential and minimizing total cost of ownership," he said.