Local public transport fleets were the first to capitalize on the advantages of mobile tire repair shops. Due to size and the type of roads they travel, buses, and particularly city buses, are in fact among the most troublesome vehicles in the event of a puncture or other damage that prevents them from continuing their journey. Soon after came large operating machines: mechanical shovels, rotating cranes for industrial and container lifting, and ground levelling machines such as graders. For the past several years, the industrial vehicle tire service world has also been equipped with emergency response vans, following contracts that guarantee fast turnaround times in restoring the customer's mobility. It was this new type of clientele, more numerous and demanding than traditional city buses and construction equipment, that caused a rapid growth in the demand for compact mobile workshops and tailor-made equipment. Even more recently, rental fleets and service networks have begun to offer similar services for light commercial vehicles and private passenger cars. The emergency response van has thus become indispensable. This was also compounded by the need for garages servicing these fleets to be able to operate directly from the client’s premises, even for multiple interventions and perhaps without prior knowledge of the type of work required.
A full tire shop on wheels
A modern mobile workshop must not simply guarantee that the vehicle can move well enough to reach the closest garage but must perform permanent repairs. On-board equipment must therefore include lifts, precision electric screwdrivers, tire inflators, balancers, tire changers in addition to the necessary supply of electricity and compressed air for these machines and all the necessary manual equipment for tire mounting or repair. In the past, mainly large vans were used for these tasks, with a clear predominance of Iveco’s Daily which, thanks to its large and sturdy chassis, offered solid support and anchorage to tire changers and balancers. High-roofed vehicles were the preferred choice to allow the operator to work inside the van, protected from the weather. The wheelbase of the vehicle was also rather generous because manoeuvrability was less important than capacity. In recent times, this approach has remained valid for those operating on motorways and state highways, while for city services, medium-sized models such as Fiat Scudo-Citroën Jumpy-Peugeot Expert, Mercedes Vito, and Renault Trafic have been added to the more traditional large vans (Iveco’s Daily, as mentioned, but also Fiat Ducato-Citroën Jumper-Peugeot Boxer, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Renault Master, and Volkswagen Crafter). Medium sized vans offer significantly smaller space and volume; thus, it becomes impossible to operate inside the vehicle, so much so that larger equipment must be mounted on removable stands and possibly protected with a canopy in case of rain. Specially designed equipment includes combo tire changer/balancer or small balancers to be mounted directly on tire changers. When choosing the equipment and the vehicle, the weights of the equipment must be taken into account, so as not to generate a total ground mass of the workshop above 3.5 t, which would require a C license increasing personnel costs, as well as for technical reasons, related to weight distribution on the chassis or platform. Noise and smoke emissions, which are increasingly restricted in urban areas, are also to be evaluated, a reason that pushes manufacturers toward battery power. In the following pages we will examine some of the products on the market by a number of leading manufacturers of specific vehicle-mounted equipment and the basic characteristics of the vehicles. Alongside these, vans normally have a workspace with benches, panels, cabinets and drawers that replicate those used in a traditional workshop. Producing these special furnishings (common to all mobile workshops in other industries as well) are many companies, particularly from Italy and Germany, such as Bott, Sortimo, Store Van and Syncro System.
The SMT26 tire changer is specifically designed to be installed on mobile workshops. Thanks to a patented always in line working system, the roller and/or the M/D tool work always in a perfect position without damaging the tyre and the rim and the lever-less demounting system with finger can be used on extremely wide wheels (super single). It is suitable for car and industrial vehicle wheels with diameters from 13” to 26" (maximum wheel diameter 1390 mm, maximum width 780 mm). It offers a bead-breaking force of 19.5 kN and can be powered at 400 V in three-phase at 50 or 60 Hz and 230 in single-phase at 50 Hz.
The electric motor automatically stops when the machine is idle. The hydraulic system, which works outside the side door of the van, has an emergency hand pump that allows it to return to travel position even if the automatic circuit fails. It can be combined with the compact hand-launched wheel balancer such as the P1 for motorcycle and car wheels up to 20", for wheels up to 765 mm in diameter and weighing up to 75 kg, which can be installed on a workbench, for example, weighing 35 kg and measuring 200 x 646 x 381 mm. On the other hand, the Paguro P2 for industrial vehicle wheels, can be blocked on the tyre changer chuck through its clamps, has programs for alloy wheels and concealed weights, can be powered at 115 or 230 V, and works with 10- to 30-inch rims from 40 to 510 mm wide and wheels up to 250 kg. Its dimensions are 485 x 345 x 645mm and the weight is about 20 kg.
The TMS 16 automatic tire changer from the Correggio-based manufacturer is suitable for tubeless tires on passenger cars as well as industrial vehicles from 13” to 26" in diameter (up to 1300mm wheel diameter and 500 in width) and 600 mm in width, with a bead-breaking force of 25 kN. It was created to be mounted on a tipping frame on the sliding side door of vans (making it possible to fit it even on large but short-wheelbase models); it requires a door at least 1100 mm wide and 1750 mm high) and in working position it occupies 1676 mm longitudinally and 1620 laterally (1168 is the lateral footprint when the machine is folded). Tilting the tool-holding arm and rotation of the bead breaker disc are manual, while translation of the tool-holder carriage takes place thanks to automatic hydraulic movements.
The TMS 16 can be complemented by a unit with a soundproof cabinet that includes a 12 bar 1000 l/min two-stage compressor, with a 100-l tank and a 3.5 kW (220 V single-phase) or 10 kW (400 V three-phase) generator, and occupies a space of 1250 x 700 x 1700 mm, so it can be easily installed even inside a medium-sized van. The weights are also suitable for intermediate-class vans: 450 kg the tire changer, 350 kg the compressor/generator unit. For balancing, there are no models specifically designed for mobile service, but one can use, for example, the hand-spun battery-powered version of the Mec 1 balancer (Mec 1 Bat) with data acquisition, specific programs for light alloy and off-road wheels. It is suitable for cars and light transport wheels, with weights up to 70 kg, from 8” to 35" with a maximum wheel diameter of 1120 mm. It occupies 420 x 1040 mm on the ground and is 1250 mm high; weighs 80 kg.
The Florentine company's mobile workshop equipment thinks of both light-duty and industrial vehicle tires. Among the former, the eCube system, born from a collaboration with the Dutch industry of the same name, offers an all-in-one package that occupies a total of 1.1 m2 of surface area (distributed lengthwise), making it ideal for installation in the cargo compartment of medium and large vans. The 1610 mm overall length contains a tire changer, the Fasep B112 balancer mounted on a tilting platform, a compressor with 60-liter tank, and 48V batteries (AGM or lithium) that power the unit. It can work on car, commercial vehicle, and off-road wheels up to 24" in diameter and, with a special adapter, motorcycle wheels too. The batteries guarantee a tire mounting and balancing range of 60/70 tires make it particularly suitable for specialists working directly from the customer’s premises. Also suitable for intensive use are the two industrial vehicle tire changers RGU 2671 (for 13- to 26-inch wheels up to 1380 mm wide and 1360 in diameter) and 2680 (for 14- to 26-inch rims and wheels up to 960 mm wide and 1350 in diameter), which are mounted on a tilting frame that allows them to be placed outside the van through a sliding side door. They are designed for wheels weighing up to 500 kg and have a 120 lt air tank connected to a 750 l/min compressor. They can be combined with a 4.4 kW (RGU 2680) or 12.7 kW (RGU 2671) liquid-cooled diesel generator. The battery-powered 8160 T Hoplà compact manual balancer can be installed on existing Mobile Tire Changer for Trucks. Dedicated to both passenger cars and industrial vehicles is the hand-spin B141 Flip compact balancer, with built-in hand operated lifter suitable for wheels up to 200 kg, battery-powered, with precision electronics that also ensure optimization of the static imbalance between rim and tire.
S118 LNL tyre changer for mobile service of passenger vehicle tyres, fits in most popular commercial small vans making it ideal for work in tight urban spaces. The heart of the system is the PAR MOVE design, with articulated up-down movement of operating arm, that moves the tire changer from the working position to the travel position storing the S118 LNL with no need to tilt the machine or twist it into the van. The 11.8 kN bead-breaker can work with wheels from 12 to 30" of bead size, up to 1100 mm in diameter, 381 in width and 80 kg in weight, both in lever and lever-less mode, and the bead-breaking disc is mounted on a hydraulic arm that can work on both faces. The Smart Lock quick manual system is the fastest manual wheel-clamping system on spindle chuck thanks to the “expanding nut”. Inflation control is activated with a pedal; tubeless inflation accessory is optional. Tool position memory function makes it possible to reduce working time when one or more wheels of the same type have to be assembled, as is the case for those working with fleets. The machine can operate on wheels from 12 to 30", with a maximum width of 381 mm and a weight of 80 kg; a motor-inverter oversees the two-speed, foot-controlled rotation. Installing the S118 on a van with 2.5 mt internal usable length and low roof with a 120-litre compressed air tank that uses the full height, still provides enough room for two stacks of six wheels; when in working position the machine occupies 1.1 m of floor space at the rear of the van. One of the S861 and S862 portable, hand-spun electronic wheel balancers can be mounted on the tire changer. These are suitable for rims from 10 to 30", with widths from 40 to 510 mm and weights up to 250 kg. Footprint and weight of the balancer are 385 x 435 x 685 mm and 80 kg, respectively.