TPMS: ITALMATIC'S "EASY SOLUTION"
Italmatic sensors by Schrader
Starting November 1st, every newly registered vehicle in M1 class, according to the European Legislative Decree n°661/2009, must be equipped with a TPMS control system for tire pressure: Italmatic introduces the EZ sensor, a “universal solution” patented for the AM and powered by Schrader, designed to face future requirements (and opportunities) created by these new systems
We have been to Milan to visit the Italmatic factory, founded in 1966 and internationally known for its production of tire making / retreading machines and a large range of consumables and accessories both for tire retreaders and dealers, as well as OEM’s for car and truck manufacturers, like wheel balancing weights and tire buffing blades.
The Managing Director, Mr. Stefano Palombella, showed us a well managed and focused company: from autoclaves for rubber curing other applications have been developed, such as laminated glass stratification, treatment of composite materials, production of pipes and other rubber products, etc. Much appreciated are also the various machines for the production and retreading of tires, as well as plants for new industrial solid tires ( along with all related machines ); another well controlled niche relates to rubber rollers used for all applications, i.e. paper, including the manufacturing of equipment for rubber extrusion and grinding, as well as supplying OEM and AM parts and providing expert advice.
But let us go back now to road vehicles and their safety, strictly linked to tires, that can lose their efficiency not only due to wear and aging, but also as a result of air pressure carelessly left too low.
Many vehicles circulate with nearly flat tires, and since awareness campaigns have not produced the desired results, the European Community has decided to introduce the obligation of a control system to promptly warn the driver.
It seems unnecessary to remind long time Pneurama readers about the detrimental effects of under-inflation ( reduced stability through corners, longer braking distance, tire overheating with the consequent risk of a tire burst, an increase in fuel consumption and reduced tire lifespan….): let us rather focus on the consequences this mandatory requirement will bring upon us all. The mandatory adoption of a control system will soon extend to the whole planet: TPMS sensors have been in fact mandatory in the United States since 2007, while Russia will adopt this measure by 2016 and South Korea within three years, from 2013 to 2015.
The compulsory nature of the law in Europe relates to M1 class vehicles, that is, up to 9 seats ( including the driver ) and a GVW of 3,5 tons.
Furthermore the TPMS must operate permanently ( considered a safety device equal to seat belts, it cannot be disconnected ) and has to monitor all the vehicle’s tires.
The system used can be of a direct or indirect kind. The European rule determines that the warning must be given as soon as the tire pressure has reduced, in motion, by 20% or has reached a pressure of 1,5 bar. Whichever is the greater receives priority.
Direct is better
The indirect or passive system employs all data coming from the ABS sensor, processed by a software based on the different rotational speed of the wheels, to evaluate the air pressure ( a flat tire has a shorter rotational perimeter compared to a properly inflated one ): no sensors are installed inside the tires and, therefore, it cannot read the tire’s temperature or determine which of the tires has a loss of air pressure: it can only warn against the presence of a general anomaly.
The direct or active system, object of the new TPMS EuroShop division, launched, on the 1° January 2014 together with Schrader Electronics, uses air pressure sensors installed inside the tires.
The sensors send collected data in wireless mode on a 433MHz frequency to a receiver connected to an on-board computer, which will visualize the tire pressure and temperature, and, if needed, will light up a warning light. According to forecasts, by 2015 the direct system will equip 61% of all cars sold in Italy.
Italmatic, consistent with its policy of training and support to Aftermarket professionals, offers a range of solutions, aimed at coping with all the problems related to active or direct TPMS systems. The main one is represented by the Schrader EZ-Sensor: two programmable sensors that can substitute 90% of the OEM sensors currently on the market.
The EZ-Sensors are patented and produced by Schrader, among the world leaders in the sector, and are available in a snap-in rubber valve version, as well as a clamp-in metal valve, the latter being compulsory on cars with a top speed above 210 km/h.
The web site dedicated to the EuroShop division, www.tpmseuroshop.it, will simplify the work of both the distributors and tire fitters. It is in fact sufficient to insert the vehicle identification data ( Manufacturer, model and production year ) to receive a list of corresponding codes: OE sensors, general sensors, kits and spare parts. Simply put, with a click all customers can have all the codes needed and their relative prices, and will be able to use the web site as an instrument for receiving advice and ordering parts directly, reducing delivery time.
Universal or general sensors are blank, and Italmatic supplies user-friendly programming tools ( to make them compatible with a number of vehicle models ), the easiest of which is the Pad USB, that, connected to a PC , even if disconnected from the web, allows testing a sensor, creating or cloning it; the latter operation permits to reproduce in detail another sensor ( same ID ) and eliminates the reading process by the on-board computer.
Wireless testers prove more versatile ( Italmatic offers some with brands such as Bartec, Tecnomotor and Ateq ) useful for the above mentioned operations, and further, to verify whether the sensors work before taking the tires off ( the so-called test before touching ) to be performed upon receiving the vehicle.
After installing a new sensor – not a cloned one – it is necessary to set up the on-board computer, unless it already has a “self-reading” function. Such procedure can be managed through the vehicle’s menu or a specific diagnostic instrument.
Opportunities? Only for those who “qualify”
In 2013, vehicles equipped with TPMS systems were no more than 250,000, while by the end of 2014 they will have more than doubled. The single sensors will be four times as much and the need for proper maintenance will become significant: even though damage rate is rather low (statistically around 0,7%), winter tires will also have to be equipped, especially if fitted to different rims, the kind of operations for which 85% of drivers look at the aftermarket.
Therefore, aftermarket operators will have to be prepared to cope with these requirements, bearing in mind that right now the market offers around 150 different types of sensors and this variety can represent a problem (even for wholesalers) and, at the same time, an opportunity to be seized.
Besides ordinary maintenance during a tire substitution (i.e. substitution of the locking nut, internal mechanism, cap and gasket), tire dealers will have to go a step further; learning, if they haven not done so already, to work with sensors, electronic diagnosis systems and all that revolves around them. To that end, the TPMS Euro Shop dedicates great attention to training and, through an E-learning platform, to on-line training, at the end of which a Dekra certificate is issued following the passing of a final exam.
A few words with Mr. Paolo Polenghi, responsible for the TPMS EuroShop division, allowed us to understand the agreement between Italmatic and Schrader, the official supplier for many vehicle manufacturers and therefore able to know in advance a sensor’s communication protocol and to reproduce it on a universal sensor suitable for a number of models, even before they come onto the market. This opportunity has prompted the Managing Director of Schrader International GmBH, Alfonso Di Pasquale, to say that “the current offer is already rather wide and we are determined, in a short time, to extend it further to include the few models still not in our catalogues but that still use Schrader sensors”.
According to Paolo Polenghi, though, many tire dealers are struggling to fully understand the potential opportunities: the 1st of November appears to be distant yet opportunities are already present and in any case who’s not familiar with the TPMS system should undergo proper training so as not to miss out on the opportunities created by TPMS sensors and eventually lose clients who would be forced to go to more specialized operators.