Predictions for 2015

Jan. 8, 2015
Wouldn’t the tire industry be better off if all these came true?

In the spirit of countdowns, “best of” lists and resolutions (that rarely last) for the new year, I’m going out on a limb to make some predictions for the next 12 months. They will descend in order in keeping with the tradition of top 10 lists, but they are not ranked according to the likelihood of them happening or not happening. Which means there is definitely a lot of “blue sky” thinking associated with this list. So, from the home office in Nottingham, MD, here are my top 10 predictions for 2015:

10. FMCSA will recognize the flaws in the SMS methodology, so CSA scores will no longer be viewable by the public.

9. EPA will acknowledge that the bar for SmartWay-approved new truck tires is too low, so they set more stringent criteria for the designation. Under the new program, only a handful of tires from major manufacturers qualify.

8. The intermodal industry finally realizes that tube-type tires on multi-piece rims are not worth the risk. Rail and steamship lines collectively agree to phase them out over the next few years with total elimination by 2020.

7. Drivers get fed up with roadside flat tires and start using air gauges to check the inflation pressure during every pretrip inspection. Fleets are so happy with the cost improvements that they agree to split the savings in the form of a bonus issued to every driver who uses a gauge.

6. Wheel refinishers develop a set of standards that they use to create a premium designation. Refinished wheels with the “seal of approval” are inspected at a higher level and have a finish that rivals the performance of new wheels.

5. Fleets agree to a national torque check program where drivers can get fasteners checked for the proper torque after wheel service at one of thousands of authorized torque check centers. Loose wheels and wheel-offs are drastically reduced, saving lives and money.

4. There’s a major breakthrough in research to develop alternatives to natural rubber and the stress on the global supply is eliminated. The natural rubber cartel agrees to increase production, causing new tire and retread prices to fall.

3. Tire companies take the savings from lower natural rubber prices and agree to include an RFID tag on every truck tire. Fleets rejoice at the opportunity to develop tracking programs that can easily measure tire and retread performance, not to mention inflation pressure maintenance.

2. The trucking industry unites to implement a plan for TPMS that will make most of the nation’s fleet compliant by 2020. Traditional sensors are utilized for trucks and tractors while trailers have the option of sensors or ATIS.

1. Fleets recognize that truck tire and wheel service should be left to the professionals who are properly trained to follow industry guidelines and procedures. Companies with in-house technicians provide their employees with the proper training, while those who outsource their tire maintenance only use vendors who can prove their employees are qualified. For the first time in the history of trucks, there are no fatalities related to the servicing of a tire in 2015.

Math has never been my strong point, so I cannot provide any odds for my predictions. And to be perfectly honest, I would be surprised if even one of them were to come true because they all represent a serious departure from the current state of the industry. But the beginning of a new year is always full of hope, so it’s my turn to play optimist.

Kevin Rohlwing can be reached at [email protected]

About the Author

Kevin Rohlwing

Kevin Rohlwing is the SVP of training for the Tire Industry Association. He has more than 40 years of experience in the tire industry and has created programs to help train more than 180,000 technicians.

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