The Present and Future of Mounting and Balancing

March 30, 2018

Five years ago, we asked executives from tire mounting and balancing equipment manufacturers and marketers a forward-looking question: What will the next generation of tire mounting and balancing machines look like?

At the time, their answers were more evolutionary than revolutionary.

I believe we will continue to see innovative new equipment features focused on delivering increased uptime, bay turns and ease of use.\

It is important that mounting and balancing interact with each other. Perhaps we will see both in the same unit.

Future products will expand the capability of the tire changer and balancer by migrating technologies. For example, we may find that assembly runout measurement currently in balancers may migrate to a tire changer also.

Those things have at least partially come to pass, as evidenced by the latest tire mounting and balancing equipment. Regardless of the innovations, however, training and education remain major industry priorities. That includes both hands-on and on-board training.

“Finding trained technicians is not getting any easier,” says Greg Meyer, wheel balancer product manager for Hunter Engineering Co.

Is perhaps a single piece of equipment on the horizon? It’s certainly a possibility; the CEMB Jolly combined an “automatic digital wheel balancer” with “an automatic tire changer” in the 1970s.

No longer available, the unit at first glance looked like a large hair dryer because of the design of its “safety hood.”

Once again, we went right to the sources, and asked the same questions we did in our February 2013 story. We first wanted to know what was innovative now in order to set the stage for the next generation of equipment. Here are their answers.MTD: What is innovative about your latest piece of mounting and balancing equipment?

Dave Scribner, product development manager, CEMB USA/BL Systems Inc.: Wheel balancers alone may not all solve tire and wheel related vibration complaints on sensitive vehicles. Tires must be balanced and be “round when rolling” to be sure the vehicle rides smoothly. HubMatch RFV wheel balancers are designed for today’s improved quality tires and wheels, and take into account what is important to solve vibration on sensitive vehicles.

HubMatch RFV balancers uniquely combine enhanced off-car wheel balancing and eccentricity (RFV) measurement with on-the-car best practice OEM recommendations. They eliminate the most difficult tire and wheel related vibration problems in a faster, simpler and less costly manner than other RFV wheel balancers. 

Pete Liebetreu, tire changer product manager, Hunter Engineering: Hunter’s Revolution Tire Changer solves many challenges. Because the operation is automatic, the Revolution improves the training curve, standardizes service times, and reduces wheel damage risks. The newest “Walkaway” autonomous features bring serious productivity gains in the shop. Being able to step away from the tire changer to do other tasks makes the technician more productive and reduces his/her service times by 25% or more. With most shops fighting to maintain operations efficiency, productivity gains as large as 25%+ bring welcome relief and a chance to improve the bottom line.Don Vanderheyden, director of marketing, Hennessy Industries Inc.: The Coats 1600 Direct Drive Wheel Balancer’s ProBalance Technology ensures both residual static and residual couple unbalance are corrected in one easy step.

Computer balancers on the market today will dynamically balance a wheel. However, due to weight round-offs and slight weight placement errors, they can oftentimes leave an excessive residual static unbalance. And, the result is usually a ride disturbance complaint.

The ongoing pursuit of increased fuel economy will continue to increase vehicle sensitivity to vibration, and drive the need for tighter balancing tolerances in aftermarket wheel service. Tire innovations driven by the need for reduced rolling resistance will compound the ride quality challenges already faced in the aftermarket.

William Bruno, vice president - general manager, Snap-on Equipment: Tire changers have recently added features that help protect against damage to tires and wheels during tire service. John Bean tire changer models such as the ATC 900 and ATC 1000 incorporate features that deliver on the commitments of shop owners to perform tire service without damaging tires and wheels. Features like disc style bead breakers, leverless removal and automated features that reduce the opportunity for costly demount errors are all incorporated into full featured John Bean tire changers.With the advent of modern tire designs that incorporate stiffer sidewalls and higher aspect ratios, more users require innovation to protect wheels and tires from damage. Hofmann’s exclusive SmartSpeed capabilities deliver on that need. SmartSpeed technology automatically controls the speed of tire rotation and limits to torque automatically to ensure that tires aren’t damaged on installation.

The tire changer quickly and almost transparently can reduce speed and even stop before too much torque is applied to the tire in order to keep the tire from being damaged even when the tire isn’t in the drop center of the rim. This patented technology allows tire technicians to work quickly without concern of costly mistakes that cause tire damage.

Wheel balancers traditionally were used to balance the wheel by identifying the quantity and position of weight required to eliminate vibration. Advancements in tire and wheel technology have created a need to also be sure that the tire and wheel assembly are mounted correctly and also that the assembly is not out of round. We refer to these capabilities as weight, shape and defect diagnostics. Mounting the wheel perfectly to the balancer is also a requirement of new technology wheels as well.

Hofmann diagnostic balancers, like the geodyna 9000, incorporate technology to address all four of these needs. Exclusive power clamp technology ensures the wheel is mounted correctly, with the same force every time. Advanced imaging technology determines the shape of the wheel and whether it is mounted correctly and individually diagnoses the wheel, the tire and the mounting integrity without removing the tire from the wheel. All of this is done without user measurements or dimension input. Just close the hood and go.

MTD: What will the next generation of tire mounting and balancing machines look like?

Scribner, CEMB USA: They will balance and also measure eccentricity in a matter of a few seconds. They will perform dynamic balancing with a single tape-on weight over 70% of the time, become faster to use in floor-to-floor time because match mounting will no longer be needed on most tire/wheel assemblies, they will become simpler to use and significantly less costly to purchase.

Liebetreu, Hunter Engineering: The next generation machines will be simpler and faster and take advantage of automation/autonomous operation.

We will see equipment that can assist the technician with mundane and repetitive tasks, reduce risk of errors and keep technicians focused and fresh.

Walkaway bead breaking and demounting, for example, does a better job without an operator than most basic tire changers do with a hard-working technician.

Vanderheyden, Hennessy Industries: Electric and autonomous vehicles (EV/AV) drive the need for increased uptime for tire service equipment. AV/EV growth will reduce tire service complexity.

However, tire replacements should increase, driving the need for increased equipment uptime (quality plus durability plus service performance). Future equipment feature desires will respond by delivering increased uptime, bay turns and ease of use.

Today’s equipment is more than capable of handling the reduced service complexity and range of applications due to expected AV/EV growth.    

From balancer to vehicle hub:

Augmenting off-car balancing with on-car  correction will help eliminate NVH issues

Off-car wheel balancers do an excellent job of measuring dynamic unbalance — static and couple, says Dave Scribner, product development manager, CEMB USA/BL Systems Inc.

“Many also now measure tire/wheel assembly eccentricity, or what we will simply define as RFV (Radial Force Vectoring) to help eliminate vibration.“We must ensure the tire and wheel assembly is balanced and round when rolling; and ultimately this is when it’s on the vehicle’s hub because this is where it rolls against the pavement.”

On-car balancing solves many issues that off-car balancing cannot address, he says. “Because of gravity, the assembly centerline changes from the balancer to the vehicle hub on virtually all wheels with hub bores and lug nuts and studs securing the wheel to the vehicle. “The small clearances can make a big difference in radial force variation ride quality.”

Scribner says use a wheel balancer that measures RFV if you want to solve vibration on sensitive vehicles. “Vehicle and tire manufacturers have known for decades that virtually every vehicle can benefit from using hub-bore indexing to assist in canceling the remaining eccentricity and/or static imbalance in the assembly during vehicle mounting.

“Index the high point of RFV at the balancer and place it on the vehicle at TDC (Top Dead Center) before torqueing the lug nuts. Do it on everything. It will save time, reduce the need to match mount and always provide better quality ride.”

About the Author

Bob Ulrich

Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000 and retired in January 2020. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and had been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993. He won numerous awards for editorial and feature writing, including five gold medals from the International Automotive Media Association. Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University and has a law degree from the University of Akron.