PCL Develops Bespoke Inflation Solution

Pneumatic Components (PCL) has developed a mobile tyre inflation solution for one of the largest fire and rescue services in the country.

Tailor-Made Inflations from PCL

Essex County Fire & Rescue Service (ECFRS) required a solution that would enable its fleet operators to inflate fire engine tyres up to the required psi, often 130psi or above, quickly, safely and efficiently.

Essex County Fire & Rescue ServiceCommercial fleets typically return to a single operating centre which has fixed air compressors and piped outlets. Although these ‘fixed’ installations deliver the higher pressures and volumes required for commercial fleets, it is cost prohibitive to install such systems at numerous rural or urban fire stations.

Garage forecourt inflation systems are only suited to cars, and with inflation pressures of 130psi (or higher) on many of ECFRS’s appliances, taking them to petrol stations is not a practical option.  

Custom-made mobile hydrovane 240-volt compressor units are another option; however, these are cumbersome, costly, difficult to obtain spares for and present a trip hazard.

ECFRS’s fleet team had already explored using a breathing apparatus (BA) cylinder as a pressure vessel so it approached PCL to see if its capabilities in digital tyre inflation could be utilised to develop a bespoke solution.

PCL and ECFRS worked together to design and develop a prototype device, which features a fully charged BA cylinder connected to a pre-set digital gauge and inflation hose on a mobile unit for maximum manoeuvrability around the appliance bay. 

Small but stable, and with an internal rechargeable battery, the unit allows the operator to pre-set the tyre pressure and inflate the tyres automatically with an auto-shut off function to prevent over inflation.

The unit has the potential to save considerable costs, being approximately a third of the price of a mobile hydrovane and cheaper than fixed installations. Training requirements are also minimal.

ECFRS has already taken delivery of 20 of the bespoke units with good feedback, pilot orders have also been received from Gloucestershire and Northern Ireland Fire Services. Several other fire services having also expressed an interest.

Olly Shortland, Business Development Manager at PCL, said: “This partnership with ECFRS underlines our commitment to innovation, which all takes place in our R&D centre in Sheffield, and our desire to bring to market robust, reliable, safe and accurate tyre inflation systems.

ECFRS came to us with a specific request and we are very pleased we have been able to use our expertise to develop a bespoke solution that will save them time and money.”

Peter Warner, Engineering Manager at Essex Fire Service Fleet Workshops, said: “Keeping the tyres on our appliances correctly inflated is essential for safety reasons but also because it minimises tyre wear and improves fuel economy.

Warner added, “PCL worked closely with us to understand our requirements and we are all very proud of the end result. The mobile inflation solution they have cleverly designed will save considerable costs while enabling greater efficiency in keeping our appliances’ tyres in peak condition.”

About the author

Richard Wilson is the deputy editor for Commercial Tyre Business. Since 2015, Richard has worked as a correspondent for all of the titles across the Valebridge Publications Ltd Group namely: Retreading Business, Tyre & Rubber Recycling, The Tyreman and Truck and Bus News. Richard has worked on/off from the age of 16 for the company and whilst gaining a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish and Business Studies at Coventry University, he developed his writing skills at the University paper and more recently writing his own independent blog.

Contact: richardjwilson@btconnect.com

Phone: (44) 1270 668 718

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