Hot topic: tire inflation
Offering nitrogen inflation service is one way to bring new and existing customers into your shop — and to keep them coming back.
“It’s not what nitrogen is that makes it a great inflation medium; it’s what it’s not,” says Jay Lighter, president of NitroFill Inc. “The whole concept here isn’t nitrogen. Nitrogen is an inert gas, so by definition it’s nothing. And that’s what you want in your tires — nothing but pressure.”
NitroFill offers nitrogen generation systems as part of a tire inflation maintenance program. “If you grasp a tire inflation maintenance program, you’re leveraging the only service that every car needs every month,” says Lighter. “Look in any owner’s manual. Every car manufacturer, every tire manufacturer, the federal government, agency after agency, says ‘Check your tires every 30 days.’”
Nitrogen diffuses through tire walls more slowly because it has larger molecules than air, thus maintaining tire pressure better, say industry experts.
“I think it’s continuing to gain acceptance and people are looking for less expensive options,” says Rob Phillips, product manager for Gardner Denver Inc. “That’s part of what is going to drive the product.”
Phillips says sales of nitrogen generation equipment were depressed since before the recession. But now sales have picked up and have rebounded nicely.
According to Modern Tire Dealer’s January 2012 Auto Service Study, 15.7% of tire dealer respondents plan to buy nitrogen generation equipment in the next 12 months; 3.9% plan to lease equipment in the next 12 months.
If you are among those planning to acquire or upgrade nitrogen generation equipment, here are the latest products in the aftermarket.
Branick Industries Inc.
Branick Industries’ says the 465 Mobile Nitrogen Inflation System is available at an economical price. The system has six conversion inflator ports capable of handling duallies or spares.
The BlockHead automatic tire inflator provides quick, hands-free tire inflation, and features a 30-gallon tank for fast conversions. It allows you to fill a passenger tire in four to six minutes and a light truck tire in 10 to 12 minutes.
“We designed the Model 465 to be an option for those wanting quality and reliability in a nitrogen system at an affordable price,” says Brian Brasch, president of Branick Industries. “It is exactly like our mobile membrane units without the bells and whistles.”
The mobile unit comes with a seven-year membrane warranty, five years of free filters and has a purity port to ensure complete accuracy.
Gardner Denver Inc.
The Champion Nitrogen Advantage tire inflation system from Gardner Denver comes with four 25-foot inflation hoses. It has an operating temperature range of 40 degrees to minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The company says the unit is installed easily and connects to the existing compressed air supply to generate nitrogen in minutes. The unit features membrane technology and requires no maintenance.
The Champion Nitrogen Advantage comes with a hand-held nitrogen analyzer for easy testing, and its compact design requires minimum space. Its coalescing and particulate filter eliminates moisture and contaminants prior to entering the membrane, so a carbon prefilter is not required, the company says.
The unit has filter replacement indicators that will let the operator know when filters need replaced. It also has an automatic shutoff that halts air consumption while the unit is not in operation.
The company also offers the Auto Fill Cart with four discharge hoses which are connected to the vehicle’s tires. The operator sets the controller to the desired pressure and starts the system, which automatically purges all four tires and refills them with nitrogen to the set pressure. Then it purges the tires again and refills the tires for a second time for a nitrogen purity level of between 95% and 98%.
NitroFill’s latest product in its growing line of nitrogen generation and conversion systems is the new NitroFill E-135. The E-135 converts shop air into high purity (up to 99.9 %) nitrogen, providing an endless supply for top-offs and conversions. NitroFill says the E-135 is economical, starting at less than $2,000, and combines a high-performance 3 cfm nitrogen generator with an automated electronic tire inflator to provide fast single tire nitrogen conversions as well as instant, accurate top-offs.
To use the E-135, select the desired inflation value, connect the air chuck to the tire valve and wait for the beep. The E-135 automatically inflates or deflates any tire to the desired value in seconds.
Parker Hannifin Corp.
Parker Hannifin Corp. has introduced the TireSaver TS018-Wand, a manual nitrogen tire inflator.
The TireSaver TS018-Wand is a robust, lightweight, portable nitrogen tire inflator that can be used to inflate the tires on a wide variety of vehicles, including cars and light trucks, motorcycles and trailers. When connected to an existing compressed air line, it will continuously produce an on-demand nitrogen supply.
The exchangeable membrane cartridge technology, developed by Parker Hannifin, is designed to service approximately 10,000 tires (1,000 vehicles) with nitrogen. It is also used as a top-off tool for tires already filled with nitrogen, thereby enhancing a dealership’s nitrogen inflation program, says the company.
The TireSaver TS-018-Wand will quickly yield multiple benefits to dealers, including minimal investment cost, an attractive profit margin and high sales potential, the company says. It offers a simple design, ease of use and an inexpensive price point to provide an “impressive return on investment,” says Parker Hannifin. The TireSaver TS018-Wand will improve the availability of nitrogen for tire filling, allowing more consumers to realize the benefits of nitrogen tire inflation.
PCL Air Technology
PCL Air Technology says it is keeping up the pressure on increasing safety and protecting the environment by demonstrating its advanced products to meet California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards to the U.S.
California’s law governing accurate tire pressure is aimed at increasing fuel efficiency and road safety, and stipulates that all tire inflators must deliver inflation to an accuracy of +/– 2 psi, a move that CARB believes could save 75 million gallons of fuel per year.
The ACCURA QUBE is a space-saving solution to providing accurate inflation. The 6-inch x 6-inch unit offers fast and accurate tire inflation within a simple, safe, state-of-the-art design.
It features three modes: standard inflate/deflate, tire shop (featuring overpressure) and nitrogen (top off and complete purge). All the repair technician needs to do is preset the required pressure and place the chuck on the tire; the in-built auto-start function does the rest.
The QUBE is designed to be simple and space-saving. It has the programmability and customization of more expensive models, is easy to use and also accurate, notes PCL.