FLOWING THROUGH | Transport News – Fuel savings at ground level on display at NACV

Fuel savings at ground level on display at NACV

When original equipment manufacturers start adding specialist aftermarket accessories to further improve fuel economy it’s usually only as a result of some very extensive testing.

PowerTorque came across one specific product that is attracting considerable interest with support from manufacturers such as Freightliner with its new Cascadia, Volvo and MACK, PACCAR’s Kenworth and Peterbilt, plus International Navistar.

The FlowBelow Prime Mover AeroKit is a complete system designed to minimise turbulence and improve aerodynamics by surrounding the drive wheels or trailer wheels to better manage the air that moves around the prime mover or trailer while in motion. Volvo Trucks North America, Freightliner and Navistar International are sufficiently impressed to offer it as a factory-installed option in Q2 2020.

The system consists of wheel covers, a centre fairing between the wheels and a rear fairing behind the wheels. These pieces work together to maintain control of the airflow from end to end, keeping the air running along the side of the truck and around the wheels. The air is then funneled out when it reaches the back of the truck, jumping the gap between truck and trailer.

The FlowBelow Prime Mover AeroKit significantly decreases the impact of those factors, optimising the surface along the side of the truck to make it more aerodynamic.

FlowBelow is a Texas-based aerodynamics company founded by mechanical and aerospace engineers. The product development process includes advanced computational fluid-dynamics modelling and extensive interaction with fleet mechanics and drivers to ensure the products provide utility, efficiency and profitability for fleets.

FlowBelow’s products are manufactured in the US and have fuel savings verified by third-party SAE Type II fuel economy testing.

Gordon Virginski, FlowBelow’s vice president of OEM and Dealer Programmes told PowerTorque the complete aerodynamic kit of wheel covers, centre fairing and rear fairing could provide proven fuel savings of up to 2.23 percent. Each wheel centre features a quick release cover and achieves full compatibility with tyre inflation systems.

The wheel covers can also become a customising statement, with their availability in vehicle body colour as well as standard colours and also a chrome finish. Removing or replacing the wheel cover is simply a case of inserting a standard key into the centre of the cover. The mounting bracket itself fits onto the exterior of the hub and does not impede with any tyre inflation system.

Gordon Virginski told PowerTorque that FlowBelow has been extremely well supported by the industry and end users to the extent the company is now considering export to the Australian market, a decision triggered by the introduction of the new Cascadia to Australia and the standardisation of tyre and rim packages on both countries.

Staying with tyres brought PowerTorque into contact with Aperia Technologies, a new company to the American market that has developed an extremely clever and highly reactive tyre monitoring and self-pressure inflation system.

Founded by Josh Carter and Brandon Richardson in 2010, Aperia Technologies claims to have become the world leader in tyre inflation for combination prime movers, rigids and semi-trailer applications since 2015.

The Halo Tyre Inflator unit mounts onto the hub of each axle and is connected to each valve stem at the wheel end.  As it rotates with the wheel it pumps air to each tyre, monitoring the pressure and inflating the tyre whenever it discovers an anomaly. Halo operates similar to a self-winding watch, using the rotational motion of the wheel to generate pumping power.

Currently in use as the tyre inflation system of choice for more than 500 fleet customers since 2015, Halo has covered more than 12 billion collective kilometres. It can be installed on both dual and wide-based single tyres on drive and trailer axles used on trucks, tractors, trailers, and buses. One Halo takes only five to 10 minutes to install, allowing your entire fleet to be easily retrofitted.

As the recipient of all major trucking industry awards – including ATA Technical Achievement Award, HDT Top Product Award, Automotive News PACE Award Finalist, Cool California Small Business Award and the Acterra Business Environmental Award – the company has established partnerships with Michelin Tyres and Ryder Truck Rental.

“If all eight-million prime movers and trailers in the US were equipped with the Halo Inflation System, the savings to the environment each year would include the reduction in oil  consumption of 20 million barrels of oil, the reduction in tyre waste of five million tyres and reduced carbon emissions of nine-million tonnes of CO2,” said Josh Carter.

“The CO2 savings from installing our product on every tractor and trailer in the US is equivalent to removing 1.9 million passenger vehicles from the roads each year,” he added.

As part of a continuing development programme, Aperia Technologies added a new component to the Halo Tyre Inflation System through telematics to monitor tyre performance via an app on a mobile phone.

The system, called Halo Connect, is simple to install. It comes with a data box, sensor package, and an installation app for tablets and can be successfully installed into a fleet’s system in minutes.

In a recent 30-day, 119 truck pilot programme with an industry-leading fleet, the company saved more than $150,000 in maintenance costs across two terminals. In addition, Halo Connect eliminated tyre under-inflation on more than 950 tyres, combatted 156 active tyre leaks until service could be scheduled. Thirty-two of those leaks were severe and would have otherwise resulted in significant downtime and damaged tire casings.

Unlike other systems, Halo Connect actively measures and adjusts tyre pressure in real-time while sharing relevant analytics to the fleet. It does not overload fleet managers and dispatchers with information that is not useful to them. Halo Connect provides smart insights, categorises tyre-related issues by severity and offers time-bound guidance to fleets to prevent tyre failure due to leaks and under-inflation. 

Of all the new developments viewed by PowerTorque at the NACV, the simplicity and effectiveness of the Halo tyre inflator proved to be the most interesting and most relevant new release we viewed.

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