Kal Tire develops autonomous inspection for tyres

AN AUTOMATED inspection station that will monitor front and rear tyres of mining trucks as they drive by is being perfected.

 Automation for tyre management

Automation for tyre management

Born of a partnership between Kal Tire and technology company Pitcrew AI, the technology integrates Kal Tire's tyre operations management system with artificial software that scans thermal imaging video footage for anomalies such as hot spots, belt edge and tread separations and other mechanical problems.

The system then automates inspection work orders on a self-reinforcing feedback loop and schedules tyre change work as necessary, based on the severity of the damage.

 Kal Tire senior vice-president Dan Allan said tyre pressure monitoring systems could give a strong picture of what's happening inside the tyre, but not outside the tyre, which is where a lot of failures happen.

"We knew if we wanted to give customers the ability to make better operational decisions and be a part of the future of autonomous mining we'd need to add external telematics to the mix," he said.

"Autonomous inspection will be a requirement for the autonomous fleets of the future."


Pitcrew AI managing director Tim Snell said the partnership would increase access to diverse site operational conditions and accelerate the maturation of the company's inspection technologies.

The automated system has been trialled in Western Australia's hot weather and a cold weather version has also been developed to withstand temperatures of -45C.

The winter model is operational at a site in northern Canada.

Kal Tire TOMS system and implementation manager Christian Erdélyi said combining the Pitcrew data with other data streams provided valuable information about tire performance.

He said they intended to build predictive models so customers could make better and earlier decisions about preventive tyre repair or replacement, which would impact haul truck productivity and safety.

"The autonomous nature of Pitcrew AI and data collected enables our site teams to focus on their expertise and work more efficiently," Erdélyi said.

"It doesn't replace our people, it directly supports and enhances how they work."

The real-time inspection technology can also be used in underground mines.

Erdélyi said it was important to get the technology right, especially in the autonomous space.

"That's why we're investing resources so heavily in this solution," he said.

"Our vision is to offer Pitcrew as an integrated solution along with TOMS as part of Kal Tire's service offering."

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