PCL wins Innovation Award

Pneumatic Components Ltd (PCL) have won an Innovation Award for its Mobile Tyre Inflation Unit.

Pneumatic Components Ltd (PCL) is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of pneumatic and tyre inflation systems.

Essex County Fire & Rescue Service (ECFRS) is one of the largest fire and rescue services in the country. ECFRS was looking for a mobile tyre inflation 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.

Commercial fleets typically return to a single operating centre which have fixed air compressors with piped outlets. Although these ‘fixed’ installations deliver higher pressures and volumes for commercial fleets, it is cost prohibitive to install such systems at numerous, remote rural or urban re 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.

Another approach is mobile hydravane 240-volt compressor units, however these are cumbersome and create a trip hazard. Such units are often custom-made and can therefore be costly.

ECFRS therefore needed a mobile solution. The 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 unit which features two BA cylinders connected to a digital gauge and inflation hose on a cart for maximum manoeuvrability.

Cleverly-designed, the unit is small but stable and allows the operator to preset the tyre pressure on the unit to in ate the tyres automatically.

With an internal rechargeable battery, the unit is completely mobile and can be easily manoeuvred around the appliance bay. The innovative cart will be approximately a half to a third of the cost of a mobile hydravane and significantly cheaper than fixed installations. It has the potential to save considerable costs, not just for ECFRS, but also nationally, and in any stations that do not have a fixed airline.

Training requirements are also minimal, as fire crews are used to handling and refilling BA cylinders.