Bandag’s Greg Filer
TW: What would you consider the main challenges facing your fleet customers today when they are spec’ing tires?
Filer: Fleets are doing everything they can to analyze their current tire maintenance programs to ensure they are getting maximum performance from their tires.
That holds true not only for the new tire but also the retread. They are looking at every opportunity to reduce their costs. They are looking at best mileage performance and also at opportunities to control fuel costs.
TW: In your view, is the average Canadian motor carrier sophisticated enough in its tire selection and tire management strategies to get the most out of retreading? If not, what are the most common issues that need to be addressed?
Filer: I have found many of our Canadian fleet managers are very sophisticated when it comes to tire knowledge.
However, in those instances where the individual making the tire purchase decision wears so many hats that his focus and tire knowledge is limited, they can and should rely on a knowledgeable tire supplier for the information and guidance that will help them maximize their tire program. Bandag dealers in Canada and their account representatives generally have years of training and tire experience.
They view the fleet’s tires as assets and can help the fleet manager maximize the return on those assets with tire maintenance and management programs that are bench marked against the industry’s best practices.
TW: About 40 per cent of fleets are starting to use tires from Asia, according to our research. How retreadable are you finding these products to be?
Filer: We are certainly starting to see some of these products entering the North American market. We realize we need to understand these products a lot better than we currently do.
We are working hard to capture the information but the problem is we can’t get our hands on a large enough group of casings to determine how these casings perform. So scientifically we don’t have the answers yet.
The data on them is just not sufficient enough to determine just how good they are. The jury is still out on that.
TW: What else would you consider a major challenge for retreaders and how is Bandag responding to those challenges?
Filer: There’s many challenges we face as retreaders, but as it relates to our fleet customers, our biggest challenge is ensuring that fleets have the best maintenance practices in place so that we have something to work with once a tire has gone through its initial life and begins to move into its retread life. That requires making sure that all the necessary pieces of the puzzle fit together so that the tire maintenance program is efficient and does the things that it is designed to do. We are very vulnerable as retreaders because if the tire is not maintained it makes it a lot more difficult for us to retread it. Beyond that, there are many things that are squeezing retreaders right now. There is not only a North American but a world-wide shortage of available casings. The other thing is that as retreaders we are all being punished on commodity pricing. Our raw material costs are essentially things we don’t have control over and as a result we have to pass them on to our franchiser dealer network and ultimately on to our fleet customers.
TW: Can anything be done, perhaps through other areas of your operation, to help mitigate the impact of rising materials costs?
Filer: We’ve done a number of things to try to reduce costs. We’ve introduced new buffing capabilities that fully automate the removal of the old tread off the casing. All we need to do is dial in what type of casing we are about to buff and the machine takes it from there. The other thing that we’ve done is employ a casing inspection capability where we use non-destructive technology called shearography. The casing goes through the shearography prior to buffing and if the casing is determined to be non-retreadable we’ve reduced the amount of handling required for that casing.
– Next month’s issue will feature the conclusion of our exclusive interview with Bandag’s Greg Filer.
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