Automated Trailers for Loading / Unloading Tire and Wheel Assemblies

Ultimation is the industry leader in specialized trailer-mounted conveyor systems for automatically loading tire and wheel assemblies for delivery to auto assembly plants. These tire and wheel delivery trailers are used to transfer mounted and balanced tire and wheel assemblies from supplier locations and delivery them to the assembly line. As modern assembly plants get more congested and space is at a premium, most auto companies now outsource the tire and wheel assembly process and then transfer finished assemblies to the required location on a “Just in Time” basis.

Ultimation’s customers have been using this style of automated Tire and Wheel delivery conveyor trailers for the most demanding reliability JIT tasks because of the exceptional reliability the system offers. Can you imagine how quickly a modern automotive assembly comes to a complete stop if there are no tire and wheel assemblies (or the wrong ones) to mount onto finished vehicles as they near the end of the assembly line?

Automated Tire and Wheel Conveyor Trailer

Key Advantages of the Ultimation Tire and Wheel Conveyor Trailers compared with other material handling methods

Low volume producers will orten transport tire and wheel assemblies in stacks (vehicle sets) or in racks. However for high volume producers the efficiency of Ultimation’s systems leads to substantial operational advantages:

  1. Correct Sequence is Guranteed. The Ultimation tire and wheel trailer delivery system uses trailer mounted conveyors that have one single path. Loading is performed at the supplier facilities on the right rear-side upper location. The tires continue travelling through the conveyor path using a single rectangular spiral path until the reach a sliding stop gate. The exit location at the auomotive assembly plant is at the bottom left position. When the trailer is in the unloading dock the sliding gate is opened, and the tire and wheel assemblies can move to the assembly line. This removes the risk of sequencing mistakes completely. Many modern vehicles have dozens or even hundreds of combinations of tire and wheel assemblies that can be fitted to the vehicle. Some of them even look similar, and counting on an operator to select the correct stack, rack or other set of tires manually has extraordinary recovery costs when things go wrong. To further assure the build sequence, some OEM automakers fit each trailer with an RFID tag to double check that the correct trailer is in the unloading dock.
  2. Avoids damage to the wheel rims caused by stacking or racks. Today’s vehicles are using tire and wheel assemblies that are larger and wider than ever before. And the alloy or steel rims that they are mounted on are highly susceptible to damage from material handling systems that might possibly come in contact with the wheel surface. A stack of 5 modern tire and wheel assemblies for a light truck can easily reach 5′ – 6′ tall, resulting in a difficult material handling task to move or unstack the product without damage to the sensitive wheel rims.
  3. Mud style tires and mini-spares are sent in the same load. Many US auto makers are producing light trucks such as the Ford Raptor, Jeep, Ram TRX or GM equivalent. The special tires fitted to these vehicles are up to 37.5″ rolling diameter and 13″ wide. They also have substantial protrusions on the tire sidewall making them more difficult to convey and nearly impossible to safely stack. At the same time, some locations use narrow “mini-spare” tires going to the same assembly plant. The Ultimation tire and wheel conveyor trailers can safely handle the massive variation in tire size with ease.
  4. Efficient use of material handling staff time through full automation. Each trailer typically holds 200 – 250 tire and wheel assemblies and in many plants the drivers who are delivering the tire and wheel assemblies are the only staff on-site. the driver pulls in, connects the power cable to the trailer and moves the sliding gate to the “open” position. The conveyors turn on and automatically discharge the tire and wheel assemblies. Automated tire and wheel trailers can therefore represent a major cost and labor saving.

Exceptional Durability from Decentralized Power Transmission

At the heart of the Ultimation system for loading tire and wheel asemblies is the Itoh Denki AC series motor driven conveyor rollers (MDR). Although these rollers are widely used in automotive and general distribution conveyor systems, the motorized rollers used in Ultimation’s tire and wheel deivery trailers is unique.

  •  The special AC motors do not need individual power supplies on on-trailer controls
  • Each trailer may from from 150 to 600+ motors, depending on the specific application
  • Motors require no sensors and do not need any monitoring
  • The particular style MDR motors used on Ultimation’s trailers have very low impedance. The operational benefit of this is that each motor can stop, start, stall or run at full speed with only a very small variation in current requirement. This means that they motors can accumulate the tires together and then stall as needed under the load without fear of damage
  • Motor life of 200,000+ hours even in extreme US and Canadian winter environments
  • For ease of serviceability, each motor on the trailer can be reached in minutes; while the failure of any one single motor does not affect system operation. Automated tire and wheel trailers is the proven reliablity winner

motorized roller 24V MDR Conveyors

Digital Design Process

There are numerous design configurations possible to meet customre requirements. These include special oversize trailers up to 60′ long and 10′ wide down to truck mounted conveyor systems to carry small loads. Some of the more common configutations are shown below:

  1. Overall length and trailer type. The most common format is to use 53′ tri axle step deck trailers with steel floors as the base support for the system. Ultimation works closely with the engineers at the trailer supplier to confirm all requirements. The deep chassis rails provide long service life the three axles ensure road load limits are maintained as needed.Tire and Wheel delivery trailer system
  2. Conveyor geometry and total length. Conveyor rollers as wide as 38″ between frames can be accomodated in standard width trailers. Typical roller spacing is 6″ centers, with 100% of the motors in curves being motorized rollers and with a tighter motor spacing to ensure smooth flow. On the straights the motor layout arrangement can be 3:1 gravity / motorized up to 1:1 for mud style tires. Total motor count per trailer is in the range 150 to 600+ motors. Most trailers have 6 levels, however we build many 7 level trailers and occasionally trailers with 4 or 5 levels. LED lights are often installed inside the trailer along the upper rails to support plant operations that run 24/7 and to give good visibility.Tire and Wheel Trailer Conveyor
  3. Rear gate and cable configuration. Power to the trailers most commonly uses a single connection cable with up to 24 pins that provide power to the motors. Additional circuits are used to provide an electrical earth connection and a pilot signal set of pins is used to confirm that the cable is connected to the dock before the motors are engergized. It’s common to include an interlock to a dock lock that prevents a trailer being pulled out while the electrical cable is still connected. A sliding gate or motorized gate is used to hold back the tires on the conveyor until the trailer is in position and ready to unload.

Contact Ultimation to learn more about this unique category of conveyors and material handling systems. We are the leading manufacturer of this type of equipment and we will be happy to configure a project to your unique requirements.


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“Ultimation’s strongest trait was the ability to complete the installation on time, within budget and with no safety incidents to personal or collateral damage to equipment during the installation.  They were instrumental in keeping the crew motivated during the arduous installation and they worked second shift in order to meet SWRMC’s production schedule.

I enjoyed working with the Ultimation installation Crew and am happy to be able to provide this recommendation. I have great respect for Ultimation as a Company and as professionals and am confident that Ultimation will continue to exhibit positive performance in the business Industry.”

Felisa A. ParquetUnited States Navy

“You guys have really delivered for me on this project. I will be sure to include you for any future work that we do.”

Kulwinder GillJohnson Controls Inc.

“I have worked with Ultimation’s executives from the 1970’s until I retired from GM. I’ve always considered them incredibly knowledgeable in the Tire/wheel and conveyor business.”

Will KortrykGeneral Motors

“You’re a great team to work with. We really appreciate your good work!”

James Gacek, ManagerVolvo Heavy Truck (retired)

“We’ve worked through tough times together in the past, and we intend to work through them again. Your support has helped make us highly respected in the industry today.”

Wes Paisley, PresidentDearborn Mid-West Conveyor Co.