The quest to run a safer, more efficient fleet is eternal. Just when you’ve got the latest improvement dialed in, something shifts — the market, the tech, the status of public health — and you take up the pursuit again.
Fleet professionals, tire manufacturer Goodyear sees you.
“In our experience, the regional, urban, and vocational work truck markets are evolving rapidly,” said Chris Queen, Goodyear’s North America Commercial Technology Director. “Every day, we see that fleets are focused on testing and implementing new and evolving technology to unlock efficiency and keep their businesses moving and thriving.”
“The opportunity for tire manufacturers is to focus on the total cost of ownership and increase the overall impact of vehicles and fleets by bringing products and services to market that help enable mobility for their customers,” Queen said.
Which trends does Goodyear anticipate, and what are they doing to ease the transition? The company’s FACES approach tells the story.
Goodyear’s Future-Focused Philosophy
FACES, Goodyear’s forward-looking approach to the future of mobility, is rooted in market trends and innovations. FACES stands for Fleets, Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Sustainability.
“The FACES approach means we’re looking to advanced forms of mobility that have the potential to make the industry safer, more efficient and more sustainable,” Queen said.
Goodyear knows fleets are always evolving, regardless of vehicle type, application, or industry — and that their industry partners will need to be ready to support that growth.
“Growing world demand is making fleets, both large and small, an increasingly important part of our economy,” Queen said. “As vocational fleets grow in size and complexity there is an even greater opportunity to bring technology and services to bear that will increase the efficiency of the investment in machines and the tires that keep them rolling.”
Autonomous truck technology is, for the most part, still in its infancy. As pilot programs demonstrate viability and government regulations change and broaden the reach of autonomous vehicles, the technology is likely to be accepted more widely and adopted for a broader variety of applications.
“As fleets become more autonomous, the maintenance needs will also change and evolve,” Queen said. “Gathering data from autonomous fleets and supporting it with tailored products and maintenance solutions will likely improve performance and safety.”
Some consumers may be new to connected vehicle technology, but fleets with ELDs or telematics are no stranger. Goodyear sees the value of connected data and has already begun incorporating it in tire technology.
“We’ve seen that when fleets are connected to vehicles and collecting data – often in real-time – they’re able to make decisions about assets and be proactive with just-in-time service or replacement to maximize investment,” Queen noted. “Goodyear’s fleet management tools, like TPMS PLUS, can help capture the big-picture and find ways for fleets to optimize their operations.”
Goodyear offers three connected tools that work together for better tire management: Goodyear TPMS PLUS, a monitoring system that evaluates tire conditions in real-time, Goodyear Tire Optix, a digital inspection tool that can help monitor a fleet’s tires, and the Goodyear CheckPoint platform, which provides in- and above-ground drive-over readers that provide automated inspections instantly.
“Pulling all the data and insights into one place, Goodyear Fleet Central, powered by Fleet HQ, provides an interactive online portal that allows fleets to purchase tires, activate service and gain holistic insight into their tire program,” Queen said “Goodyear’s Total Solution for tire management allows fleets to find efficiency with the tires, services and solutions that they use.”
Intelligent tires are another example of how connected vehicle technology can benefit fleets. A recent partnership between Goodyear and autonomous middle-mile delivery company Gatik demonstrated, in a proof of concept, that intelligent tires powered by Goodyear SightLine technology can accurately estimate tire-road friction potential and provide real-time information to Gatik's automated driving system (ADS).
“The breakthrough will add more utility to what a tire can deliver by providing critical data that can help enhance vehicle safety and performance,” said Jessica Julian, Goodyear’s North America Commercial Product Marketing Manager.
Friction estimates from Goodyear's SightLine solution successfully detected low grip conditions like snow and ice and made the information available to Gatik's autonomous fleet. The result was enhanced safety and performance for Gatik's commercial operations in Canada's challenging winter climate.
“With road-friction data, tires can help enable smoother, safer and more sustainable driving,” Julian said. “The Goodyear/Gatik example underscores the importance of working with partners in the space for current and future technology enhancements.”
Queen said connected technology and the data it provides has yielded significant improvements for vocational fleets. “The support ecosystem that has evolved over the years continues to maintain the substantial investment that regional, urban and vocation work truck fleets make in tires,” Queen said. “The tools and services developed to capture data, unleash insights, and help improve maintenance decision making is a key advancement impacting the industry.”
As fleets adopt electric vehicles in greater proportion, Goodyear is studying how tires can support their use across vehicle type, geography, and application.
“Movement toward electric vehicles in the regional, urban, and vocational work truck markets will mean the new vehicles being introduced have unique tire needs. The added weight and increased torque on the tires mean the tires are under different types of stress and need new technology to help keep fleets moving efficiently,” Queen explained. “Overall, we’re learning that tires can have an impact on energy efficiency regardless of powertrain.”
To meet the needs of regional and urban EV fleets, Goodyear recently launched the new RangeMax RSDEV tire, which is designed for improved battery range (as well as fuel savings for ICEs). Advanced casing and tread compounds yield ultra-low rolling resistance, and Tredlock® Technology makes for even wear, increased traction, and a Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) rating in all weather conditions.
“The optimized tread pattern and optimized footprint shape are designed for high torque applications,” Julian said. “Having been designed from the bottom up, the RangeMax RSDEV also features premium casing construction to promote toughness and durability for maximum retreadability. As fleets push to get more out of their vehicles, these tires will help get the most miles between charges.”
Sustainability is multifaceted for Goodyear: using sustainable materials to produce tires, designing tires that improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHG emissions, and producing tires that last longer to reduce waste.
“More than just a buzz word, sustainability in the work truck industry is changing how our customers think about tires and solutions. Goodyear is investing in new technology and more sustainable compounds while at the same time implementing tools and services that will keep fleets moving more efficiently and getting the most out of current tire investment,” Queen said. “Tire management and Goodyear’s Total Mobility promise can help fleets on their journey to a more sustainable future.”
As Goodyear has increased the use of sustainable materials, the company aims to deliver tire performance without increasing supply or production costs. Last year, Goodyear Europe unveiled a commercial truck demonstration tire made with 63% sustainable materials. This new demonstration truck tire includes 15 featured ingredients across 20 tire components, including thoughtfully sourced carbon black, use of rapeseed oil in place of some petroleum-based oils, a unique variety of silica made with rice husk ash, and technical grade polyester tire cords made from recycled materials.
“These choices are a result of a focused effort to find more sustainable components that still deliver the performance needed in today’s commercial truck tires,” Queen explained. “We expect to see advancements in sustainable material use making their way into the regional, urban, and vocation work truck markets in the coming years.”
A Commitment to Continued Evolution
Queen said Goodyear isn’t alone in these efforts: Other transportation industry players, OEMs and government entities are approaching the future of the industry with their own set of ideas.
“This new mindset is encouraging a reevaluation of a lot of traditional views across the industry and putting even more emphasis on performance and efficiency regardless of the industry where ideas and innovations come from,” he said.
As the work truck industry continues to evolve, Goodyear plans to be in lock step with the needs of fleets to make the most of the latest developments.
“Thanks to the advancements in design and connected technology the tire industry is changing, and we have an opportunity to help build the future we want for our customers and fleets moving forward,” Julian said. “We’re looking ahead and balancing market trends and government regulations to bring innovative new tires designed to meet your fleet’s needs. You can rest assured that Goodyear will be there for you and your tire needs all along your fleet’s journey. Let us focus on the tires and you can focus on running your fleet.”