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Michael Stark with one of the tires he's working to preserve
Michael Stark with one of the tires he's working to preserve

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WLU

Laurier grad develops an innovative product for an industry in need

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Aug 8/06

Recent Laurier graduate Michael Stark has a passion for research and development. Less than a year after graduating with an Honours degree in Computer Science, Stark has created an enhanced tire pressure monitoring system to be used for keeping an eye on the giant, earth-mover tires used on mining vehicles.

Stark’s development came at a crucial time for the large off-road tire industry since there is currently a worldwide shortage.  Many mines have machinery that is starting to be parked because they cannot get the tires they need, so Stark’s product will help keep the tires at an optimum performance, extending their life as long as possible.

Stark works for Control Fluid Power Inc., a company that manufactures hydraulic power units.  He was originally hired to help with the production of those units and perform technical service over the telephone, and jumped at the opportunity to start a new, ambitious project.  

“We had requests from individuals in the mining industry to use our technical expertise to create and/or find a tire pressure monitoring system that would stand up in the harsh environment of underground mines,” says Stark. “I started out with extensive market research and tested many existing systems on the market. Eventually, I found a company that manufactured a similar product for the RV industry. We created a unique partnership to allow us to use their existing product to produce a new product for the mining industry.”

Stark coupled their tire pressure monitoring system with an advanced memory storage device from the UK to create the basis for the physical part of the product. He then integrated it with software to allow users to fully track and record the history of their tires.  

“Essentially, what we have designed is a live, real-time tire pressure monitor, which will alert the driver any time there is a low-pressure situation,” explains Stark, “but at the same time, the unit will maintain a running history of the pressures to be downloaded and viewed at a later date. The software is also completely web-based, which helps many of the mining companies since they operate in many different geographical areas, and now the management teams can view this important information from almost anywhere in the world – even underground!”

Currently, Stark is completing the final testing of the product in the field.  The units have been tested out in open pit mines, but have not yet been fully tested underground. After the results come in from the underground testing, Stark hopes to have full implementation and sales by the end of the summer.  

“It has taken a lot of time to get everything right,” admits Stark, “but I found the methods I learned at Laurier really helped me to save time. The same design methods I learned in software engineering, and even the scientific model I followed in Physics courses, I used while developing the product. I was able to study a range of topics that interested me, and I know that they have all helped me in my career. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Laurier – what a fantastic school!  

“I found that you need to get involved in your own way – the university experience is for you, so make it your own. Tailor your projects to your own interests, and always try to cross reference course materials! Even a simple business analogy made in a science course can help you see a difficult concept in a new light. Everything is connected eventually, so discover these connections, and diversify yourself!”

For more information on the companies visit www.controlfluid.ca and www.controlTPMS.com

Mallory O'Brien
Public Affairs
 

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