Tire monitoring is changing–fast. New technologies and tire designs are boosting maintenance operations for fleets, although the overall tire-changing process has remained relatively unchanged over the last few decades.
“The tires have changed, very much so,” said Tire Industry Association’s senior vice president of training, Kevin Rohlwing. “But that doesn’t change the way we service them. The mounting and demounting of tires hasn’t really changed since I first did it in 1982.”
Although new tire designs are constantly released by tire manufacturers, fleets say that both modern and legacy models are still maintained with the usual techniques.
“Overall, there hasn’t been a whole lot of change [that] we’ve seen from a maintenance standpoint, except probably [that there are] faster wear cycles with some of the new tire compounds,” said Dart Transits’ vice president of maintenance, Paul Pettit.
Jack Legler, technical director for American Trucking Association’s Technology and Maintenance Council, said that the agency is often upgrading current recommended maintenance practices and is constantly finding ways to create new ones in collaboration with new tire designs and technological advances as they come about. Technicians can find better ways to spec with these RPs, and can also integrate enhanced methods of troubleshooting and maintenance.
“Wheels evolve in parallel with tires and include aerodynamic devices, along with tire pressure and condition sensors, monitoring, and management,” Legler said.
The largest group of RPs in TMC consists within the S.2 Tire and Wheel Study Group and task forces. This includes the Future Truck Committee’s Tire Durability and Reliability Task Force, which helps manufacturers and fleets work together to find and solve tire durability limitations, and create ways to lower overall tire operating costs.
RPs allow TMC to help fleets manage and protect their large tire inventory investments, Legler explained. Innovative trucking technology has helped tire inventory tracking become one of the most-changed trucking industry aspects over the last ten years.
A fleet’s tire details can be stored easily within inventory software databases, which allow employees to more easily find the necessary tire on-site as well as determine the needs for tire replacement and emergency changes while on the road. Tires can also be equipped with chips or RFID tags that can be implemented into these database systems for easier transfer of information, and many systems can now manage tire conditions in real time.
These softwares can also be used in conjunction with newer tire pressure technology, which involve monitoring systems and automatic tire inflation capabilities that have been significantly impactful for many fleets across the country.
Fleets see the benefits of these technology boosts in the decrease of tread wear, improvement of rolling resistance, and the ability to more easily address maintenance issues while their tires sustain consistent tire pressure. The use of automatic inflation systems can also allow for “tremendous advantages” in regards to the increase of labor efficiency, safety, and earnings, according to Rohlwing.
Additionally, fleets are able to alter their tire PSIs through certain monitoring systems, which allows each position on a truck to experience the best performance possible.
“That’s new for us…but fuel economy always is a big deal with tires, and we watch that closely when making purchases,” said Dot Foods’ director of fleet maintenance, Kevin Buss. Dot has been altering some PSIs at different tire positions in collaboration with tire manufacturers, and is now able to focus on performance instead of the benchmarks which previously determined operation efficiency. “Many folks that are not really familiar with tire programs would say they just need a tire that wears the best. But that doesn’t mean it will give you good fuel economy,” Buss said.
Because fuel is one of the biggest costs for fleets, fuel-efficient tires are able to help them see huge savings throughout a tire’s lifetime, although such tires may be an initial investment.
“If you’re running low-rolling-resistance tires or LRR retreads, you’re probably seeing an improvement in your fuel milage, and any kind of gain you get in fuel mileage is going straight to the bottom line,” said Rohlwing.
LRR tires can also be mounted with the same techniques used with standard tubeless tires. Technicians should thoroughly inspect the tire and wheel to check for damage or rust before securing a tire bead seating. Finally, bead lubricants can help avoid any damage and reduce tire bead-rim flange friction.