“CSI” for truck tires

With freight volumes stagnant or falling and operational expenses rising, fleets are doing everything they can to keep a tight rein on expenses. That includes managing their second-largest expense on the balance sheet – tires – more closely than ever

With freight volumes stagnant or falling and operational expenses rising, fleets are doing everything they can to keep a tight rein on expenses. That includes managing their second-largest expense on the balance sheet – tires – more closely than ever.

To improve tire management, Goodyear is joining forensic-like investigative techniques with detailed data gathering and tracking systems. Now, according to the tire maker, issues can be identified in “real time” and fleets can evaluate the data immediately.

“We used to focus solely on products – new tires and retreads alike – when we talked to fleets about cradle-to-grave tire solutions,” Roy Sutfin, general manager-- service for Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems, told FleetOwner. “Now we’re focusing on all the service touch points in the tire chain. In addition to products, we’re improving our services and data management for fleets. It’s all about figuring out what the tire is telling us about the truck and how it’s operated – and how to use that information to save the fleet money.”

The first piece of that puzzle comes from a more detailed physical inspection of the tires, the truck, and the trailer—not unlike a CSI (Crime Scenes Investigation) approach. Goodyear’s new “Fleet Solutions Bootcamp” hammers home deeper analytical tire inspection skills as part of a five-day course for tire sales personnel at the Goodyear Commercial Tire Academy in Dallas.

“Being a good tire ‘detective’ tells you if problems are related to the tires or to the truck and trailer,” explained Sutfin. “Excessive tread wear on one side of the tire could indicate the axles are out of alignment or the wheel bearings are failing. Heel-toe wear highlights a tire-balancing problem or maybe improper inflation. That kind of knowledge, communicated in real time, lets the fleet take corrective action so it can run its business better and save money.”

Scrap tire analysis – going over a tire “corpse” as it were – is critical to gaining vital information that will assist the fleet in driving costs down, said John MacMullin, regional director for Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems, Goodyear’s service center subsidiary.

“The key is tracing a tire to the vehicle, and we use our TV [tire value] tracking system to do that,” MacMullin told FleetOwner. “Each tire is ‘fingerprinted,’ telling a fleet which truck or trailer it came from and its position – was it a drive or steer tire? Inner or outer dual? That way we can provide value-added information quickly. The problem is identified and the solution provided in minutes. The process helps fleet owners to lower their cost per mile, saving them money over the life of the vehicle.”

MacMullin also believes fleet customers shouldn’t have to drive to a facility to examine scrap tires. “We’re now in the process of using digital photos to highlight issues,” he explained. “That will be a real time saver for busy fleets.”

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