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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Bridgestone Mobility Unit Tech ‘Listens’ To Tires To Keep Trucks Rolling

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Brian Goldstine has a high pressure job—as much as 110 pounds per square inch. He’s the president of Mobility Solutions and Fleet Management, a three-year old unit of Bridgestone Americas that started out as a fleet management service, but just ahead of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year its mission suddenly grew.

That’s when Paolo Ferraro took over as CEO of Bridgestone Americas and told Goldstine to broaden his unit’s scope to include automakers and individual vehicle owners, to encompass what Goldstine said was “a broader view of mobility landscape.”

Ah…mobility, the catchall term that’s become an umbrella under which the industry is crowding to include almost anything that drives, flies or glides and may also be shareable. As it applies to Mobility Solutions that magic word means, “how do we get people and goods from point A to point B and doing it in a way that’s efficient, safe, sustainable,” said Goldstine.

Keeping fleets on the road was always important even before the pandemic took hold, but in an environment where deliveries to business and individuals has skyrocketed, that task has become even more vital.

For that, Mobility Solutions launched a service called Intellitire. It’s a cloud-connected automated tire pressure system gathering data from the tire and vehicle to assess the temperature and pressure of those tires, and over time, gathering more and more information from the vehicle, explained Goldstine.

That information can make the difference between a load arriving on time or several hours behind schedule. Goldstine estimates of the approximately 16 million commercial breakdowns in the U.S. Annually about half are tire pressure maintenance related.

“If we can help them better automate the process, provide data and analytics to help them to at least start to manage and even be more proactive in terms of the management of those tires, we think we can deliver great uptime for the fleets, reduce their total cost of ownership, also benefits of safety for the drivers and for those on the road alongside those trucks,” said Goldstine.

For those situations where even preventative maintenance could not prevent a breakdown, Mobility Solutions again turned to technology to at least bring roadside help more quickly.

The service is called REACH. It connects truck drivers in need of emergency roadside assistance with service providers through a smartphone app. One of the key ways it saves time is by eliminating what can sometimes be as many as eight or 10 phone calls burning up to 45 minutes to have a technician dispatched to the scene.

“REACH can reduce that time from 40 to 45 minutes to less than two minutes to get a technician dispatched,” said Goldstine. “Not just for breakdowns. It’s a software that can be integrated with existing software systems that the fleets as well as service providers use today and becomes a seamless experience for them.”

True to the expanded mission directed by Paolo Ferraro, Mobility Solutions has also created a service solution for individuals called RESOLV. It’s a subscription service that ranges in price per month from $20 to $99 and higher.

Launched late last year in the Nashville area where Bridgestone Americas is based as a test, Goldstine said the intention is to expand to more markets in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.

“As we work to understand better how the offering appeals to consumers…what’s the right mix of services they’re looking for, we’ll continue to scale from there,” Goldstine said.

But it’s the technology stuffed into both commercial and private vehicles that provides Mobility Solutions with new opportunities to further expand its offerings, especially for electric vehicles and those equipped with advanced driver assistance systems or ADAS.

“One of the exciting things about the technology going into the vehicle there’s more and more data coming off the vehicles,” said Goldstine. “For us it’s important to have what we’ll call smart tire sensors in the tire—access to other data coming off that vehicle so that we’ll be best able to monitor and predict when maintenance or service will be provided.”

Specifically, the added weight of electric vehicles along with their instant torque and acceleration puts more stress on tires, so the more information the tires can convey the more the company can learn about how to both service and build them, he said.

“As we get more information from the tire we’ll be able to integrate into other systems such as ADAS systems,” said Goldstine. “Today those systems have general assumptions around the tire or the condition of the tire wear or the road. We can provide inputs into those systems based on the wear of the tire, the health of the tire, road conditions, weather conditions and make those systems more precise.”

Bottom line, said Goldstine, is between fleet operators and individuals, there’s plenty of pressure to expand services that all begin with the air that fills the tires.

“We are seeing more demand, their expectations are elevated and that’s giving us a lot of excitement for the potential for the future,” he said.

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