Manager: Trent Siemens, director of fleet maintenance
Company: Paul’s Hauling Ltd., Winnipeg, Canada
Operation: Bulk transporter operating 250 tractors and 600 trailers out of four terminals
Tires are one of a fleet’s biggest expenses, usually hovering in the top three behind driver wages and benefits and fuel. The trick to keeping tire costs under control, though, is information; for example, keep tractor and trailer tires properly inflated to maximize longevity and know tread depth and tire casing life details.
Yet Trent Siemens found during his career as a fleet maintenance manager that keeping tabs on such data proved time-consuming at best, requiring him to plumb spreadsheets and arrange numbers in often mind-numbing detail. It didn’t help matters that the lack of such data got compounded by an often wide lassitude in tire management protocols among shop technicians, including almost 70 techs working in Paul’s Hauling’s three shops.
“With multiple locations and multiple technicians spread out among multiple shifts, my greatest struggle is to get consistency in our tire care practices,” he explains. “Too often, we’ve relied on ‘tribal knowledge’ of tire care at the shop floor level.”
As a result, Siemens said he needed a tool to help put all of his fleet’s tire data and tire care protocols in one place for everyone to see. “I needed a tool that did the data mining and exception reporting, and I needed the information pushed to me so that I didn’t have to go muddling through the spreadsheet jungle—and then have to refresh and repeat every month,” he stresses. “I needed a program that would assist me in enforcing company policies and procedures. I needed a tool that puts our policies and parameters in the hands of our technicians—in their face all of the time.”
Last December, Paul’s Hauling began testing Rhombus TireAnalytics, a cloud-based platform designed by Dana Inc. to “optimize” tire life cycle management. Technicians can use smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers to input tire information into the system. The data then helps identify and analyze tire wear trends, predict maintenance issues that can be addressed preemptively to minimize truck downtime, and establish optimal timeframes for scheduled replacement.
Siemens is finding that this system allows the maintenance team to address tire issues on an “exception” basis—focusing on problems not areas where things are fine—while allowing Paul’s Hauling to lower its tire cost-per-mile numbers. “It is helping us develop operational excellence,” he explains. “My guys walk around [the shop] with their iPhones and import [tire] data right into the [Rhombus] app.”
And there’s no need for pencil and paper notes to be typed into a computer; the data from the smartphones and other mobile devices is loaded directly into the system, often with a photo, to enhance the tire care decision-making process further. “We’re maximizing the life of our tires, and we’re experiencing less premature failures,” Siemens points out.
Another plus is that the maintenance team is able to react faster to problems. Early on, data from the Rhombus system indicated that there was a “high volume” of tire valve-stem caps being replaced. Based on that data, Paul’s Hauling eliminated the problem and the extra cost associated with it by changing the type of tire valve stems it was using.