July 22, 2020
Tires, Tires, Tires!
David Rhodes, Area Operations Manager – East
Is tire management a surprise in the transportation industry? Unfortunately, some fleets have a reactive, rather than proactive, approach when it comes to their tires. Their focus is on their core business, until they find themselves on the side of the road deflated with a breakdown. With the cost of tires being around $0.035 to $0.04 per mile, tire management is a must! And the five major components of an effective Tire Management Program are tire analytics, selection of a tire vendor, tire standardization, tire maintenance, and management of the casing program.
Management Thinker Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” That is why using technology to manage your tire data is paramount. Software systems are fully digital, having the ability to track tire performance by average miles per 32nd tread depth, separating Linehaul versus Vocational applications, tire place and rotation on the steer and drive axle-all information to help the business expand its reliable miles. For example, Rhombus TireAnalytics takes a business’ tire data and provides tire reports of the current tread, PSI, and historical data for each tire. By taking the business analytics and interpreting it, improved decisions can be made to purchase specific brand tires, which provide better fuel economy and uptime.
Selection of a Tire Vendor
Selecting a tire vendor is important and focuses on the level of care the vendor can provide. Understanding the tire vendor’s capabilities is critical to your business’ success. The vendor needs to be proactive in the prevention of roadside tire issues. However, if such issues do occur, the tire vendor minimizes the downtime with a pre-negotiated mounted wheel program, casing inventory, or casing buyback program. Furthermore, your tire vendor needs to be able to complete tire maintenance with a fleet inspection, checking for possible problems like alignment, inflation, matching tire tread, broken valve caps, rotating tires, and debris. Finally, the tire vendor must have quarterly meetings reviewing the tire performance data, tire purchases, and tire expenditures (new tires, retreads, labor) interpreting the analytics of the fleet.
Spec’ing the right tire for the right application can single-handedly prevent failures and premature wear out. Often, sales representatives select a tire for its weight rating or availability without knowing if it is the correct tread or tire for the customer’s application. Working with your service provider or tire vendor can help guide the tire selection for your business - standardizing tires for pickup delivery, regional carriers, linehaul, and even vocational applications. By doing so, you can minimize inventory, tire damage, and increase the reliable miles for the tire.
Ongoing tire maintenance is key for increasing reliable miles, and tire inflation is by far the most important. Drivers need to perform pre and post-trip inspections, reviewing tread depth, Pounds Per Square Inch, and looking for debris or damage. If the tire’s PSI is low, they need to add air to increase the PSI to the original tire manufacturer’s recommendation. Drivers need to be instructed in the safe procedures of airing a tire. Tires that are 20% underinflated should be considered flat and, not reaired, and inspected and repaired by a TRIB certified repair person. Driving with underinflated tires will decrease fuel economy, as every 10 PSI below the recommend PSI amount decreases the vehicle’s fuel economy by 1%. Second in importance for tire maintenance is alignment - if the vehicle is not aligned correctly, it can cause irregular tread wear decreasing the life of the tire and even damaging the casing. Finally, mismatching tires can run down the thirty-seconds of the new tire, decreasing the life and return on assets.
Casing Management can be cumbersome to manage, but when managed properly, fleets can see important savings. PacLease recommends keeping a casing inventory, allowing you to have greater control of the quality of the casing. Selling every casing to the tire vendor and then buying them back sounds nice, plus there is no casing inventory to manage. However, it does end up more expensive and you have less control over the casing quality. Furthermore, performing periodic audits with the tire vendor is key to making sure you do not miss any tire adjustments (warranty).
There are three possible outcomes and causes of a tire audit:
- Scrap (you pay for it)
- Defect (manufacture pays)
- Road Hazard (if an FSL the customer pays)
Tires are one of the highest expenses we face in the transportation business. Being proactive and implementing a detailed tire management system can not only save your business money, but also increase on-time deliveries and overall effectiveness. Do not let disaster strike; always think about your tires, ways to limit your exposure, and how to improve the management of your investment.