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How bringing intelligence to tires enhances safety

By |  February 15, 2021
Bibhrajit Halder

Halder

Bibhrajit Halder envisions a time in the not-so-distant future when autonomous equipment will be present within crushed stone, sand and gravel operations.

That time is not here just yet, but Halder says it will be nearing once autonomous technology is more broadly utilized in general construction applications.

“In the construction world, think about the building of a bridge or a dam,” says Halder, the founder and CEO at SafeAI, a company retrofitting heavy equipment for autonomous applications in mining and construction. “The building of a dam takes five years and is a $100 million project. That’s a midsize project for us. We can go in and introduce our technology and bring that cost down to $62 million.”

To Halder’s point, transitioning autonomous technology into the aggregate industry remains a cost issue. Construction firms that build stadiums or tunnel systems – “large” projects that Halder characterizes at around $1 billion – are most likely to take up autonomous equipment these days. That next layer, then, is those midsize construction projects he describes in the $5 million to $25 million range.

“For those, you are looking at about 2025 in the timeframe,” Halder says.

Gleaning valuable info

Goodyear will outfit a Caterpillar 725 articulated truck, retrofitted with SafeAI’s autonomous software, to capture pressure and temperature data and monitor overall tire health. Photo: SafeAI

Goodyear will outfit a Caterpillar 725 articulated truck, retrofitted with SafeAI’s autonomous software, to capture pressure and temperature data and monitor overall tire health. Photo: SafeAI

While Halder’s timeline makes clear that aggregate operations are unlikely to invest en masse in autonomous loaders, excavators or trucks anytime soon, it’s evident that progress is being made with autonomous heavy equipment.

SafeAI, for example, partnered with Goodyear toward the end of 2020 to incorporate tire intelligence into the programming of autonomous heavy equipment vehicles. According to Goodyear, the companies are exchanging site data through an integration with the SafeAI autonomous ecosystem to protect tire health, eliminate downtime and contribute to a smarter, safer standard for the construction industry.

Tire intelligence from Goodyear’s TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) heavy duty rim-mounted sensors will be deployed at an active quarry in California. Goodyear will outfit a Caterpillar 725 articulated truck, retrofitted with SafeAI’s autonomous software, to capture pressure and temperature data and monitor overall tire health. The sensors can identify and communicate adverse conditions before they cause maintenance issues and derail a project, Goodyear says.

“With the Cat 725, we are adding our SafeAI technology to make it fully autonomous,” Halder says. “We’re running that truck into the quarry in the load-haul-dump cycle. It will be completely autonomous.”

Goodyear says traditional construction and mining sites are rife with inefficiencies, fueled in large part by costly unplanned downtime rates as high as 20 to 30 percent. Tire intelligence can help mitigate these challenges by identifying early or potential problems – such as underinflation – before they cause unexpected delays, bolstering efficiency, safety and return on investment, Goodyear adds.

To Halder, the greatest opportunity autonomy presents is in safety.

“If you have an operator in the cab, the cab is not the safest place,” he says.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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