Continental wants to make your life easier when it comes to fleet tire maintenance, and it’s leveraging its own technology to do it.
In the scorching heat at the company’s Uvalde Proving Grounds west of San Antonio, Texas, Continental launched its third generation of medium-duty truck construction tires. The German technology company is calling them “intelligent” construction since they come factory-equipped with its patented TPMS sensor attached to the tire’s 3-G casing. The new tires include:
- The Conti HSC 3, a steer tire which replaces the HSC1, for construction, coal haulers, logging and other all-position service use;
- The Conti HAC 3, a wide-base all-position fitment replacing the HTC1, for on/off-road and mixed-service applications, and;
- The Conti HDC 3, a drive tire that replaces the HDC1, for construction, coal haulers, logging, waste haulers and on/off-road mixed-use applications.
With built-in TPMS sensors, each tire pairs with Continental’s suite of digital tire monitoring solutions, including ContiPressureCheck, the ContiConnect Yard Reader and more. Each tire, manufactured in Continental’s Mt. Vernon, Illinois, facility, can also be replaced with its retread equivalent.
“Our whole strategy is we have to supply everything the customer wants,” said Marco Rabe, director of truck tire technology for Continental, at the launch event. “What we can do with intelligent tires is track the performance of the tires, so we can make sure they’re optimized…Every bit of protection you can give that tire upfront pays for it in the end.”
All three tires come with enhanced performance characteristics, Continental said, including:
- Aggressive tread design for on/off-road use with an improved cap/base compound for improved mileage and traction;
- A 3-G casing with a belt package built for durability for maximum retreadability and longer casing life;
- A self-cleaning tread design that reduces stone retention;
- Increased sidewall protection to protect against cuts, curbing and abrasions.
Behind the Tires
The culmination of five years of development, the Conti HSC 3, Conti HAC 3 and Conti HDC 3 were created with feedback from customers, says Dave Pickel, lead tire developer on the project.
Customers said they wanted improved cut and chip performance to protect the tire casing and increase retreadability, more stone trapping and self-cleaning capabilities, and of course, boosted traction. So, tire engineers started from scratch.
“We threw all [three tires’ first-generation designs] away and started over,” Pickel said. “This is us turning over a new leaf in performance.”
On the Proving Grounds at Uvalde, Pickel and his team demonstrated the stone trapping features of the Conti HDC 3 and Conti HSC 3 on a gravel lot—similar off-road testing to what the tire went through during its development. He said in those tests, fewer stones wedged themselves into the tread compound compared to the first generation of tires. Stones that do make it past the tire’s hefty construction often end up burrowing into the tire’s casing and damaging the steel belts—something Pickel and his team wanted to avoid.
They accomplished this thanks to both tires’ new constructions, which feature rugged four-belt tread packages with belts two and three made of high-tensile steel for durability. The tires also feature a self-cleaning tread design with miniature stone bumpers in between the tread blocks to reduce stone retention.
Nearby on a curbing course, Pickel showcased both tires’ durability as a Class 8 truck traversed over curbs etched into the ground. He noted the sidewall durability on both tires thanks to extra rubber on the upper shoulder and that hefty belt package that helps protect against curbing, cuts and abrasions.
A few miles away on the Proving Grounds, Johnny Cape, Continental’s senior product manager for commercial vehicle tires in the Americas, showed the Conti HSC 3’s and Conti HDC 3’s wet traction capabilities as Class 8 trucks ascended a cobblestone hill climb with a 9% grade. Participants observed how both tires’ aggressive on/off-road tread designs handled slippage, spinning and lateral traction. A stone’s throw away on a wet braking course, participants rode shotgun as Cape measured the wet braking distance of medium-duty trucks—one equipped with Conti tires and the other with a competitor’s—as both trucks came to a screeching stop from 50 mph.
One of the components responsible for the traction on these tires are their chunky tread blocks, which are torqued to create a pattern with lots of edges, Pickel said. The tread’s enhanced cap/base compound also plays a role in mileage and enhanced traction.
Farther away on the proving ground, a cement mixer mounted with the Conti HAC 3 on the steer position and the ContiTread HDC 3 retreads on the drive position waded through a sandpit. Bridney Jordan, product manager for commercial vehicle tires in the Americas, said compared to the previous generation, the Conti HAC 3 has an increased tread width, which gives the tire more stability, as well as a flatter footprint and increased mileage. The tire also comes in two flotation sizes.
With a goal of lowering the overall driving cost for fleets, Conti’s three new construction tires – what it’s calling its “intelligent tires” – come with its TPMS sensor pre-installed on the tire’s casing for a more seamless integration with Continental’s suite of digital tire monitoring solutions.
“We think it’s important to monitor tire pressure, but at the end of the day, we want to be the total solutions provider for customers,” said Trey Thompson, digital solutions field engineering leader.
Thompson and Michelle Reinhart, head of digital solutions, demonstrated how the company’s digital solutions work with its “intelligent tires,” and more importantly, how using the suite of solutions can save fleets money in the long run.
Thompson said after fuel, tires are the No. 1 maintenance cost for fleets, and a tire that’s 10% under-inflated leads to 15% shorter tread life and 2% lower fuel mileage. If a tire does fail, roadside assistance costs average $600 per incident and lead to downtime, an additional cost for the fleet. Plus, if fleets do perform proper inspections, they can often take up to 20 minutes, and many times, they’re performed by a new member of the staff, leaving human error at play.
“If you could move away from relying on that inexperienced person who may not appreciate what big of a deal tires are and that inaccurate handheld gauge to an electronic system that takes the human element out of it and automatically reads tire pressures and records them back to you, that seems like a much better solution…This could pay for itself within the first year.”
Thompson explained that the TPMS sensor lasts up to six years or 400,000 miles to minimize disruptions. By being mounted in the tire’s casing, the sensor avoids valve damage and air leaks and provides true casing temperature. When used with Conti’s digital solutions, it can allow fleets to take preventative actions that make the tires last longer.
Reinhart explained each of the digital solutions, which use data from the sensors in different ways:
● The ContiPressureCheck: An in-cab display launched in 2013, which shows drivers the tire pressure and temperature for all wheel positions on the truck;
● The ContiPressureCheck Solo: a light display that illuminates when tire pressure or temperature is low. Reinhart said this trailer-only solution is ideal for trailer leasing;
● The ContiConnect Yard Reader, a box that’s mounted in the fleet terminal that reads the sensors from a 65-foot radius. This solution, launched in September 2017, is connected to a mobile-friendly web portal that displays tire data for all of the fleet’s vehicles and sends texts or email notifications to alert personnel if an issue is detected. This is ideal for fleets that return to the fleet yard every day to once a week, Reinhart said.
During the event, participants received text alerts from the ContiConnect portal that displayed information a tire dealer or fleet manager would receive, such as the name of the vehicle, the description of the problem and the proposed solution from the device.
In another stop on the proving grounds, Shawn Rasey, Continental’s director of global business development for earthmover tires, and Adrien Leu, senior technical solutions manager, explained that all Continental radial OTR tires come with the sensors pre-installed straight from the factory. The duo also previewed Continental’s ContiLogger Live, a solution still under development that allows the company to identify on-site job challenges thanks to the pre-installed TPMS sensors.
Leu explained that the ContiLogger Live connects with telematics systems to perform studies on the vehicle’s speed, distance and lateral forces. From the data captured, it then gives the driver and site manager a trip analysis, which can include alternate routes to take and speeds to drive to maximize tire life.
“We believe this technology is the future,” Leu said. “Tires are the No. 1 expense for quarries and a 10% improvement in tire use is substantial. When you collect the right data and implement it, we can help the customer make the right decisions.”