Goodyear’s Drive-Over-Reader is an idea so good that it spent most of last year rolling over the competition at a string of technology award events.

Fitting neatly into Goodyear’s Total Mobility concept – where the company is fixated on conjuring up tyres to meet the needs of specific regions and even customers – the Drive-Over-Reader checks the condition of the tyres on a vehicle using a ground-mounted sensor. Tyre pressure, remaining tread depth, axle load and total vehicle weight can all be checked in seconds. They can even be checked every time the vehicle returns to base.

Typical for an organisation with the desire – and budget – to push the technology envelope in its relentless search for fleet efficiency and safety, Dubai’s RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) has been an early adopter in the region. According to figures published last year, the system installed in Jebel Ali Station has helped bus faults on the road to drop by 58% (as recorded between May and July 2019).

Feras Jawhari, Fleet & Proactive Solutions manager MEA, Goodyear Middle East, points to the RTA’s success as a sign that Goodyear’s one size doesn’t fit all strategy is working.

“We have a very unique solution in the DOR (drive over reader) system. Whether it’s tyre pressure, tread depth, axel load, licence plate reading, it’s very simple and supporting our vision to have efficient mobility.”

Describing DOR as helping the RTA to make a massive savings in tyre-related breakdowns – “It’s preventive maintenance in action” – he explains that the “very simple tool” can work with any type of vehicle, bus, truck or light truck.

“Before, the standard or traditional way of doing the inspection needed one tyre man to inspect a full truck or bus. And he would need an average of around 20 to 30 minutes. 

“Now in 20 seconds, you can have a full analysis of the truck and the gentleman can adjust the tyre which has a problem. Whenever a vehicle crosses over, these sensors will measure the pressure and depth and the axle load,” he adds. “The data will be processed and then it will give you reports directly – via our portal; mobile phone; or on a tablet.”

Exhibiting a deft moment of mental arithmetic he says that on the scale of a fleet with 100 trucks, that 30 minutes per truck could translate into a total of 3,000 minutes or 50 hours:

“And that is the equivalent of having all your trucks stationary for two full days. If you only have one tyre man, it will need around six and a half working days to inspect a full fleet…with this technology, you can have a full inspection within seconds.”

Goodyear is one of the most recognisable brands in the world and, as such, its own data and figures are mesmerisingly massive. It’s a company with 120 years of history. It employs 60,000 people and is present in 180 countries. It operates 47 manufacturing facilities and three technical centres on three continents. Goodyear Middle East, alone, covers 48 countries from Afghanistan to Morocco down to the equator. Ironically, it is using its globe-spanning footprint to become more localised – individualised, even – than ever before. Total mobility is at the core.

“Each country, each application, each usage will need a specific tyre. Therefore, we have tyres for each condition, each application and each environment for every market (we are in),” says Jawhari. “So, we have a tyre like the KMAX Extreme, which has mainly been designed for the GCC and then we have the KMAX Endurance and Cargo which were mainly designed for South Africa and North Africa. We have a specific tyre for each region, depending on the need of that market.”

He explains that this represents a major change in strategy. As recent as ten years ago, Goodyear was content to ship tyres that were based on its European range to the region.

“We would fine-tune them and bring them to the Middle East. However, five years ago we instigated a completely new strategy, what we called the emerging line-up,” he recalls.

The specialisation of the KMAX range into applications and market requirements is typical of Goodyear’s Total Mobility strategy. Everything the company does from now on is focussed on creating solutions which enhance the overall safety, efficiency and sustainability of truck fleets. He says the tyre giant has instigated the ambitious Goodyear proactive solutions programme which, as the name suggests, is forcing the organisation to be on the front-foot wherever it present.

“This is something really unique,” says Jawhari. “Proactive solutions is part of our mobility solution. It includes a product range of tyres which can cover all the regions. So, we have a product like the KMAX Xtreme which are designed for high heat and were specially produced, designed, produced and tested for this region.”

(He says that ahead of the 2018 launch of the KMAX Extreme, Goodyear and its local partners racked up three and a half years of testing in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Ghana: “We needed full testing to be sure that the tyres would withstand the hot climate.”)

Tyre performance can affect the overall profitability of a fleet, putting pressure on fuel costs and maintenance. For those that would find the DOR system impractical, Goodyear is offering its own in-tyre sensor system.

“The proactive Goodyear tyre pressure monitoring system is connected to a network that is online 24/7 and broadcasting data for all aspects of tyres,” he explains; adding that the fleet and truck industry in the region is not immune to the pressures that their peers face in other markets.

“We are all, one way or another connected to the automotive truck industry. We are also facing new trends created by changing industry regulations from ESMA in the UAE or the new GSO regulation on labelling that are coming to this market. Fuel efficiency is also one of the pressure points nowadays, especially with the big fleets. Also, there has been new demand over the last couple of years for low profile tyres like 315 70….IT solutions, telematics are also now starting to be in demand.

“Everybody is looking to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) and operational costs,” he says. “For that reason, we believe that selling a premium tyre is no longer enough. We need a tyre service and a solution. From our studies among the 48 countries that we cover, we believe that tyres are important because they represent around 15% of the direct cost of the operational costs of the fleet. This is an average and can go up to 55%. Tyres are really important because they will affect the total cost of the operation.”