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Trucking Toolbox: Using Tread Data To Master Tire Management

June 18, 2024

Managing a fleet’s tire program often presents significant challenges. Tires are the single most expensive items in the shop, yet they often do not receive the critical attention they need from technicians. Successful tire cost management requires informed and consistent decision-making, which is greatly facilitated by a well-defined tire lifecycle program.

Nine Key Components of an Effective Tire Program

Efficient tire management can help carriers optimize fleet performance and reduce operating costs. Below are nine key components that form the foundation of a successful tire management strategy.

  1. Tire Specification by Axle Position: New and Recap
    Specify that steer axles use new tires for optimal performance and safety. Drive and trailer axles can utilize recap tires to reduce costs without compromising performance and safety.
  1. Tire Life Cycle
    Define which axle positions should be considered for runouts and determine the recapping strategy. For example, tires on the drive axles might be recapped twice before being relegated to trailer positions. Establish how long casings will remain in the fleet before being discarded.
  1. Tire Inflation Checks
    Implement a weekly schedule for tire pressure checks across the fleet. Use automatic tire inflation systems for trailers to maintain optimal pressure, reduce manual checks, and prevent costly over the road breakdowns.
  1. Tire Pull Standards
    Set clear standards for when tires should be pulled from service, both during preventive maintenance (PM) and non-PM visits. For example, any tire with less than 4/32” tread depth might be pulled during PM inspections.
  1. Reasons for Removal: Definitions and Management
    Utilize or create a standard list of reasons for tire removal, such as tread wear, sidewall damage, or punctures. Track and manage these reasons to identify patterns and address underlying issues.
  1. Tire Repair Criteria
    Establish criteria for when tires should be repaired versus replaced. For example, minor punctures within the tread area might be repaired, while sidewall damage always necessitates replacement.
  1. Scrap Tire Audits: Frequency and Reporting
    Conduct monthly audits of scrap tires to assess the effectiveness of the tire program. Generate reports highlighting the number of tires scrapped and the reasons for doing so.
  1. Partner With Tire Suppliers
    Your tire supplier should be a critical partner, but fleet maintenance leadership must take initiative in establishing, reporting, and managing the tire program. Too often, fleets abdicate these responsibilities to their tire suppliers. Frequent interaction with your tire supplier can help manage costs. Discuss metrics, review performance, and collaborate on strategies to optimize tire usage and expenses.
  1. Leverage Data for Decision-Making
    Given the significant expense of tires, using data collected during tire inspections is crucial for making informed decisions and optimizing tire performance. Establish a list of tire metrics and a corresponding reporting process. Essential metrics to monitor include:
      • Overall monthly tire expense: Monitor total spending on tires to identify cost trends.
      • Percent of tires replaced in-house: Track how many tires are replaced internally versus outsourced.
      • Average miles for steer, drive, and trailer tires: Measure tire lifespan to evaluate performance.
      • Tire pressure checks (TPCs): Record the pressure and location of tire pressure checks and adjust as required.
      • Scrap tire audit results: Analyze the condition and reasons for scrapped tires.

Achieve Long-Term Success Through Effective Tire Management

By addressing these key areas and leveraging data, fleet managers can effectively manage tire programs to optimize resource utilization, reduce costs, and enhance overall fleet performance. Continuous monitoring and improvement efforts are essential for sustaining gains and ensuring long-term success.

To learn more or discuss any of the ideas shared above, please contact a KSMTA advisor or complete this form.

Bryan Burningham Maintenance Consultant, KSM Transport Advisors & KSMTA Canada

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