A super magnet is saving the tires on the Jackson County Department of Transportation’s fleet of trucks

The Jackson County Department of Transportation’s (JCDOT) road equipment has pull, literally.

JCDOT is utilizing a piece of equipment known as a SuperMag to suck up metallic objects on the side of the road and reduce the number of flat tires on its fleet of small trucks.

“The SuperMag, purchased in 2017, has helped reduce flat tires – and the resulting downtime – from a rate of nearly 90 percent of its small truck fleet to only a handful,” said Brian Zimmerman, assistant superintendent for state trunkline at JCDOT.

This powerful technology is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of Crossroads, the quarterly journal of the County Road Association (CRA) of Michigan.

The SuperMag is a ceramic magnet mounted on the front of a plow truck that is pivoted to magnetize a bottom plate. The plate is then lowered to about 8 inches off the ground and attracts anything metallic to it.

Once the magnet is pivoted back up, the plate loses its magnetism and drops all the metallic objects – including those pesky nails – for crews to sweep up for recycling.

The magnet weighs more than 2 tons – heavier than a snowplow. It is expected to last for decades as the magnet loses only about one percent of its strength every 100 years.