Autonomous thermal imaging systems detect tyre damage in mining haul trucks

Australian-based Pitcrew AI is leveraging a new system to inspect the tyres of trucking and mining vehicles. Using FLIR (Forward-looking infrared) thermal imaging and AI technology, the technologically-advanced system helps in detecting problems with tyres before major damage to the equipment, potentially avoiding deadly accidents on the road.

The system was developed by Pitcrew’s parent company, Industrial Monitoring and Control (IMC), which automates the inspection of mining truck tyres.Mining companies invest a huge amount of money in buying and maintaining mining haul trucks. Last year, there have been multiple cases where trucks caught on fire in Australia, with each damaged truck setting the company back by around $50,000. Quick detection of errors could thus be a lifesaver.

Tim Snell, Director at IMC, explains the need for an improved system: “We’ve developed a whole bunch of different solutions throughout the years. Common problems could be detected through a detailed visual inspection, but in reality, this technology is [most effective at] getting inspections done in real time without downtime.”

One such problem is separation, where the truck tyre tread delaminates from the casing. IMC had known that separations could be detected with thermal imagers. With a thermal camera, inspectors can detect hotspots caused by the separated materials of the tyre rubbing against each other and creating friction. These hotspots can still be detected when the tyres are caked in mud.

IMC currently uses a FLIR A615 or FLIR A65 Thermal Machine Vision camera and trained AI model(s) for this application.Snell is hopeful that Pitcrew will become a widespread solution for the industry – given the enormous financial and safety benefits, the Pitcrew solution has a good chance of going global.