Continental’s Clarisa Doval spells out how carriers can get the most out of tyre monitoring systems

Well-known German tyre manufacturer Continental is now expanding its offering to include tyre monitoring systems. How can such systems be of use to carriers? We talk to Clarisa Doval, Head of Digital Solutions at Continental Tires.

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Michał Pakulniewicz, Trans.INFO: Though Continental is primarily associated with tyres it has gone beyond being just a simple tyre manufacturer and has in the last decade or so been evolving into being a solutions and services provider. Can you take us through the history of that process and the reasons for embarking on that path?

Clarisa Doval, Head of Digital Solutions Continental Tires:

The transformation began in 2010 with the creation of our first TPMS system. This initial solution was a basic data solution, comprising a sensor installed in the tyre that transmitted data to a control unit and displayed the data on an in-cabin display.

This system was called Conti Pressure Check. In fact, we have been engaged in this field for almost 15 years. During this period, we identified fleet managers as the key audience for tyre data. In response, we have developed digital solutions that have evolved from the basic TPMS system, which could only display data in the cabin for the driver.

Initially, we created a yard system, which is a valuable solution for fleets that have vehicles returning regularly to a depot or base. This system enables the sensors in tyres to directly communicate with the yard. The sensors in tyres transmit data every time the vehicle passes a yard reader. This data is then processed and made available to the fleet manager, who can initiate tyre services.

We then developed live solutions for fleets that require tyre monitoring 24/7, regardless of vehicle location. These solutions include electronics installed directly in the vehicle. This allows for real-time data to be displayed in the system. All the data and insights are displayed in our platform, ContiConnect.

ContiConnect is the umbrella brand for the entire set of digital solutions within Continental. This brand encompasses all components, including sensors, electronics, and the platform, which collectively enable better tyre management and communication.

The objective is to provide customers with comprehensive, holistic solutions that can enhance their operations. Our philosophy, called LODC (Lowest Overall Driving Cost), guides our approach.

These lower costs are not limited to the tyre itself, but also extend to the services surrounding it. These include digital solutions, ContiLifeCycle (a concept of retreading and prolonging tyre life), and our extensive network of service partners. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive solution that meets the needs of any fleet.

You mentioned that there are three levels to the tyre monitoring system – the simple mobile app for the driver, the depot/yard solution and the live data option. Are they made for different type of clients, especially fleet size-wise?

Yes and No. The web mobile application system is an entry solution for owner-operators and smaller fleets that don’t require a complex system. It’s a simple phone app that connects directly to intelligent tyres, making it easy to get up and running.

However, it can also be utilised by larger fleets as a preliminary introduction to the system. This allows them to gain insight into the data provided by the tyres and to experience the functionality of Conti Connect through the web mobile application. While it is primarily designed for owner-operators or smaller fleets, it also serves as a valuable introduction for larger fleets that have not yet experienced Conti Connect.

Furthermore, it can be integrated with other solutions. For instance, a fleet with yard solutions can still utilise the app on drivers’ phones. This allows drivers to perform an early check in the morning to ensure that tyres are in good condition before continuing their trip, even if they are in a depot and tyres are being monitored at the yard. The mobile app is designed to serve all types of fleets and scenarios. However, its utility may be more pronounced in smaller fleets.

So I assume the other two solutions are more expensive and more fitting for larger operators….

As previously mentioned, the yard solution is suitable for all fleet sizes. However, to benefit fully from this solution, it is necessary to return to a base or depot. In my opinion, that is the main driver for this type of solution.

Regarding the live solution, we have also seen several smaller fleets opting for this option. The frequency of users returning to a base and their desire to update information about their tyres will determine the optimal solution.

You started with the simple tyre pressure. And what are the other parameters that are displayed in the ContiConnect now?

The device provides information on tyre pressure, temperature, mileage, and the wear of the tyre, as well as a prediction of the pull point. Additionally, the system can detect slow leakage. This will enable you to identify any issues with the tyre and take appropriate action in a timely manner. Furthermore, future versions will include predictions for pull point and trap tread depth and wear.

And are all these parameters available in all three versions -the mobile app, the yard solution and the live monitoring?

The mobile solution currently provides the most relevant tyre-specific information, including temperature and pressure. It is somewhat challenging to present a comprehensive range of features within the confines of a mobile application. Additionally, I believe you have access to mileage data. In the web portal, which encompasses both the yard/depot solution and live monitoring, you will find all the tyre data that I previously mentioned.

You state that the Conti Connect tyre monitoring solution is not available for Continental tyre owners, but also for the other tyre brands?

You are correct. Our solution is agnostic about the brand of tyre. Our tyres are sold directly from the factory as intelligent tyres with the sensor installed. This is the easier part. Furthermore, our sensors can be retrofitted into both our tyres and other brands.

And what percentage of ContiConnect users are actually clients that are using other tyres, not necessarily the Continental ones?

I am unable to disclose the exact information. It is not the majority. I believe it is more convenient for customers to purchase intelligent tyres directly rather than have to deal with fitting the sensors. Even our own customers prefer to purchase intelligent tyres directly and not necessarily fit the sensors in tyres that are not factory-made. We have more Conti customers than other customers.

And what benefits does using the ContiConnect digital solutions bring to the users? How does it help in running the company from an economic point of view?

In line with the LODC philosophy, cost is likely to be the primary consideration for many fleet operators. Tyres represent a significant cost component in fleet operations and exert influence over other aspects of fleet management. Conti Connect can assist you in managing this cost and in understanding better how to manage tyres.

One of the most common causes of tyre failure is underinflation. When we consider the field, it is relatively simple for tyres to become under-inflated by 10-20%. This already has a significant impact on the likelihood of tyre failure. The first advantage is that you will always know whether your tyres are properly inflated. You will also be able to correct the pressure to the optimum level. Secondly, you will experience fewer emergency breakdowns.

This is because you will be able to ascertain the wear level of your tyres in advance. Furthermore, you will be able to monitor and anticipate any slow leaks, which could indicate a problem. This will prevent breakdowns but will also allow for scheduled maintenance. Furthermore, by implementing a more structured maintenance plan, you can avoid unexpected breakdowns. This also results in increased operational efficiency. It is more efficient to combine tyre maintenance with other vehicle maintenance rather than performing them separately.

Furthermore, you will enjoy longer tyre life. If you have a premium tyre with additional mileage, you will maximise the value of the tyre by ensuring it is used until the end of its life. Finally, properly inflated tyres also result in reduced fuel consumption. Your vehicle will also benefit from reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. This is particularly relevant considering the new regulations in Germany, which will help you to pay less in tolls.

So generally, the influence and cost benefits of the tyres can go well beyond just their own cost…

In general, the cost of tyres represents between 2% and 5% of the total cost of operating the fleet. However, it can account for up to half of all operational costs. Therefore, breakdowns in general, and emergency breakdowns in particular, represent a significant cost factor.

Maintenance and administrative costs also contribute to the overall expense. If you can plan your maintenance, it will be considerably less expensive than if you have to work around your tyres. Additionally, fuel consumption is reduced when tyres are properly maintained and operate at 100% efficiency.

Finally, there is the matter of tolls, which have become a significant additional cost in Germany and are likely to become a similar burden in other countries. It should be noted that this calculation does not apply to every fleet in its entirety. Rather, it depends to a great extent on the specific application and characteristics of each fleet.

Do you perhaps have any calculations or models showing how much money can be saved by a company when using your tyre monitoring digital solutions?

It’s about 600 euros per vehicle per year. Of course, that depends on how well you use the system. So, if you really act on the alerts, if you really make sure your tyres are properly inflated, if you really address a slow leak and don’t let it go to a breakdown, then you’re going to get the maximum benefit out of it.

Now, you mentioned earlier that there will be new functions and parameters in the future. Are you planning an update or a new version of the sensor?

We expect the release of the third generation of our sensors later this year. We intend to demonstrate the capabilities of the sensor at the IAA Transportation Fair in Hannover in September.

The launch has been postponed slightly. Currently, we are commencing field testing, and we are pleased with the results. We believe we can bring the product to market and our customers in series soon. I am unable to confirm a release date currently.

And what exactly what will be the new features included in it?

The most essential functionality of the sensor is its ability to accurately capture tread depth and wear. This will be a significant differentiator in the market, as it will enable accurate tyre service planning.

And what else are you working on at Conti Digital Solutions?

We are also developing our modeling capabilities to enable us to leverage the data we currently collect from tyres and vehicles. This will enable us to provide more effective planned maintenance in general and to integrate it more effectively with other planned maintenance for the vehicle.

We are engaged in numerous integrations with third parties, including customer systems and telematic applications. Furthermore, we are exploring the possibility of integrating tyre inspection with vehicle inspection. We believe this is a crucial aspect for fleet management. Many fleets currently perform pre- and post-vehicle inspections.

Our goal is to automate the tyre inspection process, eliminating the need for drivers to estimate the condition of tyres. This approach allows drivers to complete the vehicle inspection and tyre inspection simultaneously, streamlining the process and ensuring compliance.

Speaking of integrations with telematic providers, does the data that you receive from the sensor in the tyre work solely with ContiConnect or does it work with applications of other telematics solution providers?

The specifics depend on the telematics provider. Some offer hardware integration, while others provide API integrations. Some still lack any integrations.

Our general approach is to be an open solution and integrate with as many partners as possible. In some cases, our sensors communicate directly with a telematics unit, while in others, our hardware remains in the vehicle, with the integration handled via an API.

We have established partnerships with numerous smaller players in Europe, including many of the national champions. Additionally, we collaborate with leading telematics companies in Europe, aiming to integrate with all of them.