TORONTO, Ont. – Truck News recently sat down with J.B. Jaboor, vice-president of commercial systems in Canada for Goodyear Tires. The following is the transcript of this exclusive interview:
TN: Cost control and proper maintenance practices remain an important part of sound financial management for Canadian carriers, particularly during this time of across-the-board rising costs. In your view, is the average Canadian motor carrier sophisticated enough in his tire selection and subsequent tire management practices to ensure he is getting the most out of his tires? If not, what needs to change?
Jaboor: Working with your tire professional is the best advice we can give to any commercial trucking fleet. Tires represent the second highest maintenance related expense next to fuel.
Fleets that develop a serious tire program will reduce their expenses starting today. What is the best tread design, what is the best compound, what is the optimum tire inflation, how often should you check your air pressures, should I rotate, what tread depth should I remove my tires to insure maximum retreadability? These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked prior to developing a tire program. In general, today’s fleet managers are far more aware of the benefits of a customized tire program than say 10 years ago.
Successful fleets have well informed managers aided by sophisticated computer programs. They know what’s needed and welcome assistance from reliable service providers.
TN: How about owner/operators? Are you seeing a growing appreciation among them of the contribution of proper tire selection and management towards their financial performance?
Jaboor: Since owner/operators pay their own tire costs, most understand how important it is to make the best possible business decision when it comes to choosing their tire design. The education process comes into play when an owner/operator understands the concept of cost per mile.
A tire may have a higher initial buy price, but if the tire provides an additional 25,000 miles of tread life versus a lower-price tire, the cost per mile makes the higher-priced tire the better value over time.
My experience is that they very much “get it.” For an owner/operator to survive out there today, they have to.
TN: What are the most common mistakes owner/operators make in their spec’ing and maintenance practices?
Jaboor: They fail to consult a tire professional. With so many different brands, sizes, designs, compounds and tread depths to choose from, it is so important to be working with an expert. Research the tire dealers in your area and work with one you trust. A good tire consultant can take a load off your mind and save a tonne of money.
TN: What is Goodyear doing to educate the market place about the need for better tire spec’ing and maintenance practices?
Jaboor: Training is a major initiative for Goodyear. We continually educate our own associates and the entire commercial dealer network. We count on them to work with fleets to ensure they are making the best business decisions. Recommendations are made using solid facts supported with data from countless surveys. Our proprietary TVTrack computer program is just one of the tools used to decipher the complex information.
TN: Fuel economy has become a huge issue with Canadian fleets thanks to the rise in diesel pricing and the fact the new diesel regulations have reduced fuel economy and may continue to do so. What is Goodyear doing with tire design to tackle the fuel efficiency challenge?
Jaboor: We recognize that this is a major issue for any fleet, small or large. Fuel efficiency is a large, looming consideration when we develop new polymers, materials, casing constructions and tread patterns.
Our engineers ensure that fuel economy is maximized without adversely affecting tire mileage and retreadability. Very significant advances have been made in this area of development over the past few years and there is more to come. However, there are many opportunities involving fuel savings outside of those gained from advanced tire engineering.
TN: Of course, tire manufacturers have challenges of their own to contend with. Can you elaborate on the most pressing ones and their impact on tire manufacturers’ abilities to respond to the needs of buyers?
Jaboor: Tire-building capacity and the cost of oil-based raw materials are the two most important issues facing all tire manufacturers.
On a global basis, commercial truck tire demand is at all time high. Plants are producing tires 24/7 and still having a difficult time keeping up with demand.
Steel and oil prices continue to escalate. Just about all raw materials found in tires are oil-based, except for natural rubber, and this has doubled in price over the past two years.
TN: How is Goodyear responding to those challenges?
Jaboor: We are producing some trailer tires and private-branded product off-shore. This frees up capacity for high-volume Goodyear steer and drive tires that are in high demand here in Canada.
TN: Fleets are starting to experiment with low-cost tires from Asia, according to our research. What challenge is this posing for companies such as Goodyear, particularly when it comes to pricing and design expectations?
Jaboor: We must and do compete with Asian imports with our own private brands, many of which are also made in Asia. Regardless of brand or price point, we run exhaustive testing on any product that is manufactured overseas to ensure it meets all of our high standards and local performance demands. Our generous warranty supports this statement.
TN: Continental reach is key to Canadian carriers who depend on transborder hauls. Our research also shows that a tire manufacturer’s dealer network is an important element when considering one tire manufacturer over another. What is the size of the Goodyear dealer network in North America? Are you satisfied with that or are there plans for expansion?
Jaboor: Goodyear has the largest commercial dealer network in North America. More than 2,000 dealers sell and support our product. But where it is appropriate – to better serve our customers – we are alert to new distribution options in both the United States and Canada.
TN: You consider your DuraSeal technology as revolutionary. Please explain why this is so and how it differs from aftermarket sealants.
Jaboor: Duraseal is a revolutionary technology that we introduced in 2005. A rubber material is built into the tire between the inner liner and the tire belts.
This gel-like material seals punctures up to 1/4″ in the crown area of the tire thus avoiding more than 90 per cent of potential flats. Measured against aftermarket sealants we contend that DuraSeal Technology is superior in puncture-sealing efficiency.
TN: How does retreading affect the sealing capability of DuraSeal?
Jaboor: It does not affect retreading and that is the beauty of the new product versus aftermarket sealants.
Liquid sealants must be removed from the casing prior to retreading. With Duraseal, you just treat the puncture as a normal repair, and the casing is ready for retreading. One huge benefit of this technology is that the tire can be retreaded without any additional labour and cost and not lose any of its sealing powers.
TN: I understand that the DuraSeal Technology is currently available in Goodyear’s Unisteel G287 MSA and G288 MSA mixed-service tires, where tire punctures are a daily hazard. Are there definite plans to include it with other lines as well?
Jaboor: Yes, our plans are to expand this product. Market reaction has been very, very, positive.
TN: This year Goodyear introduced two mixed-service truck tires, the G287 M
SA and the G288 MSA. Please point out the benefits of each.
Jaboor: The G287 Mixed Service All Position tire is designed for 80 per cent on the road and 20 per cent off the road applications.
The G288 MSA is designed for 80 per cent off road and 20 per cent on road. Great mileage, excellent traction and cool-running casings to maximize retreadability are their primary attributes.
Canadian operators have demanded these tires of us. They replace our trusty G286 product providing as much as 30 per cent better mileage and 18 per cent better resistance to cutting, chipping and tearing.
TN: What’s new for on-highway fleets?
Jaboor: The G395 LHS steer tire, the G372A drive design and the G314 trailer tire remain the premium line haul package offered in the industry today. Of course, we are not resting on our laurels and performance improvements are always top of mind.
TN: What do you see as the major changes in terms of tire manufacturing technology and tire design over the next decade?
Jaboor: Technology continues to evolve. With new polymer technology, three-dimensional computer-aided design tools, continuous process improvement and by utilizing lean manufacturing techniques, Goodyear will continue to be the industry leader.
We will develop the new products that customers expect of us, focusing on premium tread wear, traction, retreadability and safety all at a competitive price and delivered when and where they want them.