All over the world, making sure that vehicles maintain a legal limit in tire tread continues to be a constant problem, with tire dealers taking valuable time to measure customers’ tires. In Europe there is an ongoing crusade to find a piece of equipment which is light and easy to use that ensures a swift turnaround of tire checks in dealerships and garages.
I have followed this project with interest for quite a while and have seen potentially innovative products appear to be the answer. But eventually they fail to deliver through one detail or another from precision reading to size and weight.
However, recently I have been researching a totally new and different type of equipment called a TreadReader Hand Held Scanner.
This new TreadReader scanner device is manufactured by a UK-based company called Sigmavision. Very quickly this innovative piece of tire technology is gathering interest across Europe.
So just what makes the TreadReader Hand Held Scanner so different? Well, it seems that built-in technology overcomes the limitations of traditional point gauges and the measurement errors normally associated with such optical devices and it performs particularly well on dirty and wet tires.
It also incorporates an impressive 3D laser scanner that covers the full tire width as well as 50 mm around the circumference that additionally highlights any uneven or edge wear which could indicate wheel misalignment or worn suspension. An intensive 3D scan is taken of each tire from 320,000 measurement points with an accuracy of 0.2 mm or 0.008 inches and advanced software algorithms give detailed color-coded three-dimensional tire tread images complete clarity.3D scans of a tire’s tread can also be viewed on a tablet, mobile phone or PC through a special TreadReader app making the system completely versatile in any tire inspection environment. The app easily connects to the scanner through Wi-Fi to produce a complete customer report showing vehicle identification, 3D tire scans with color-coded tread warnings and error alarms for every axle and tire position.
In fact, this new TreadReader scanner has captured the attention and imagination of the retail tire sector across both the UK and Europe of national fast-fit networks, regional dealership groups and even tire manufacturing companies who operate retail outlets.
This is because of the product’s versatile ability to identify negative issues with customers’ tires along with being able to state when a tire will need replacing due to worn tread depth (in due course). It has also been stated that using a scanner effectively protects a technician from making manual visual errors.Sigmavision also offers an alternative TreadReader product — the Drive Over Ramp which is a fully automated measurement system for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles with laser sensors located in a surface-mounted ramp.
The tire then passes over a pressure switch that triggers the measurement of the tire patch at a width of approximately 50 mm and around 300,000 data points on the tire patch to ensure accurate and repeatable measurements.
As I write this article there are still an estimated 30 million illegal tires being driven on European roads. When you couple this alarming fact with a proven high percentage of tires that come into tire dealers for replacement which are already illegal, it goes without saying that badly worn tires continue to be a very serious problem. Any new, innovative product that helps tire technicians to easily check tread depths on customers’ cars is always going to be enthusiastically received by the industry.
Not all new products live up to their initial marketing credentials, but in my opinion this new TreadReader scanner has already established an impressive reputation for adaptability and efficiency. It seems to be destined to become popular in tire outlets and workshops in the future. ■
John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the past 26 years. In 2004 he launched his own consulting company, Sapphire Media Services, which caters to business media clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.
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