As a fleet's third largest expense after payroll and fuel, tires require special attention. And yet tire programs are often either neglected or based on outdated perceptions and ruinous practices. Dev...
As a fleet’s third largest expense after payroll and fuel, tires require special attention. And yet tire programs are often either neglected or based on outdated perceptions and ruinous practices. Developing the right tire management strategy can save your company a bucket of money. We’ve written a great deal about tires and retreads in recent years and in this article we’ve pulled together some of the best insights from the industry’s leading tire experts.
THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: Careful and detailed assessment of your application and its unique needs are the key ingredients for a solid tire program. Long-haul applications are those in which the ideal tire would be one suited to extreme distances over reasonably flat, straight roads. Regional applications require treads that can handle the curb-crashing city delivery and short-haul vehicles. Specialty or off-road applications require special attention paid to the strength of the tread.
DO YOUR TIRE MAINTENANCE PROGRAM RIGHT: A tire program should ensure proper alignments, balancing, and the use of calibrated tire gauges to maintain optimal inflation pressures. If the pressures run too low, a tire will flex more than it should, and the cords inside will generate heat and break. The best-possible inflation levels should be determined by the charts in a tire data book, the Tire Retread and Repair Information Bureau recommends, noting how tire dealers are more than eager to teach fleets how to read the seemingly cryptic information. The pressures should also be measured when tires are cold. Install tire pressure decals just above each tire position, adds Tony Vercillo, author of 101 Tips for Fleet Management.
KEEP WHAT YOU NEED AND NOTHING MORE: Have your suppliers hold your tire inventories. Keep your shop inventory levels at 30 days, saysVercillo. Large inventories can cost up to 20% of the inventory value to carry. If you have a yard full of tires, you’ve actually got money tied up in tires that probably could be used to better advantage someplace else, advises consultant Barry McKee. Consider a tire plan with one of the major tire manufacturers.
DON’T BE HELD HOSTAGE TO INDUSTRY MYTHS: Retreading is perhaps one of the most useful, yet most often misunderstood or underutilized, facets of modern fleet management. The advent of steel-belted radials has allowed casings to stand up to recycling without readily flying apart on the highway. And the bar was again raised in more recent years with the introduction of non-destructive inspection technologies, including X-rays. Today’s recap has a failure rate equal to or less than that of a virgin tire -some operators even claim to get more mileage out of their reincarnated skins. When you make your tire purchase, you have to take into account a 30% cost just for the casing alone. Essentially, retreading allows you to hold onto that 30% as something of a capital investment, and reuse that product until the end of its service life, which could be three or even four more retreads.
DON’T SQUEEZE EVERY BIT OF JUICE OUT OF THE LEMON: The tread on a line-haul truck’s steer axle tire can legally run down to 4/32nds of an inch, and drive tires can legally run down to half of that. But TRIB recommends tires be pulled off for retreading when treads wear down to 6/32nds of an inch. Mixed fleets may want to pull tires off their trucks at 8/32nds because of the likelihood that treads have been exposed to additional damage.
DON’T NEGLECT THE GOLD IN YOUR SCRAPHEAP: An estimated one in 10 disposed tires could be put back into service with a proper repair, according to TRIB. Golf-tee-shaped plugs can be used to patch punctures that are up to 3/8 inches in diameter but they need to be inserted from the inside of the tire to be effective. The inside of the tire also needs to be properly cleaned and buffed with a grinder that runs at a slow speed to avoid curing the rubber. The hole itself will need to be filled with a vulcanizing material to protect the belt package from separating, and to prevent moisture and other contaminants from entering the casing.
Damage that is more extensive can be addressed with radial section units. The International Tire and Rubber Association has even determined that it is possible to repair sidewall damage measuring as much as four-by-3/4 inches. Just keep in mind that such repairs involve more than the bead-to-bead retreads often referred to as remoulding or remanufacturing, since the additional treatment on the sidewall is strictly cosmetic.
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