Regardless of what position you take on retreading, you can't deny that protecting the value of the casing is paramount to a successful tire program. Whether you retread your own tires or turn them in for credit after they're worn, you know there can be a fine line between saving money and wasting it.
It all starts when you buy new tires. If you're planning to turn them in for credit, remember that at first sight, retreaders are most comfortable with a matched set of eight. A menagerie of brands, tread depths and wear patterns is a sign that tires were poorly maintained and thus poor candidates for retreading.
Keep in mind that if you don't recognize the name on the sidewall(s), any potential credit could have conditions attached. By sticking to recognized brands in sets of four and eight, the casing-credit approach will usually yield the best results.
If that's not possible and, like most fleets, you retread your own casings, the management process begins with a management program. The DOT code on the lower sidewall is not unique, making it virtually impossible to track a large number of tires in their original condition. Tire ID products can be a big help in this effort.
In addition to a physical accounting of the tires, including location, performance data must be collected. One major tire manufacturer recommends tracking at least the following: size, brand/type, cost, vehicle ID, install mileage, install date, install tread depth, removal mileage, removal date, and removal tread depth. You might also collect casing age, number of retreads, number of repairs, and wheel position.
Thankfully, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, cordless hand-held readers and drive-through gate readers have replaced clipboards and calculators. By collecting and analyzing the data, fleets can get a much clearer picture of cost-per-mile for their tires and retreads.
Casing management involves more than just knowing that the eight tires you sent in for retreading are the same eight retreads you get back a week later. For smaller fleets, it might not actually go beyond that because RFID readers require an up-front cost beyond the tags themselves. In fact, some tire dealers and retreaders have their own systems so they can better assist their customers and provide a value-added service. But the bottom line is that you need some record of the tires you purchased over the course of the year, including their location and current status.
Fleets that make tire purchasing decisions based solely on what they “think” about a certain product are doomed when it comes to managing these assets. Without the data to serve as a guide, it usually comes down to a price sheet and the experience of the decision-maker.
I've watched too many customers rely on long-time employees and resist every attempt to switch vendors or brands because they view data collection and casing management as a lack of trust between the owner and the tire department.
Whenever I heard the words, “I'm going to trust my guy when he says these are the best tires,” I knew the facts would never have a chance. His “guy” could be selling casings for cash on the side and replacing the number on the clipboard with a junk tire he found on the side of the road.