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New Technology Helps Super Wides Overcome Another Barrier

August 10, 2011
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Traditionally, long-haul trucking fleets have cited a number of reasons for equipping their rigs with super wide tires: weight savings, improved fuel efficiency – even ride comfort.

Being stranded on the side of the road with a punctured tire and damaged wheel has not been one of them.
This past June Goodyear removed one more barrier to broader super wide acceptance with the introduction of the G392 SSD and G394 SST with DuraSeal.

Ever since super wide tires were first introduced to the North American market a decade ago, the tires’ apparent lack of “limp-home capability” has been a barrier to industry-wide acceptance of the product. This has been particularly true in linehaul operations where the distance between tire repair and/or replacement outlets can span hundreds of miles.
Some tire manufacturers insist that boosting the number of super wide sales outlets is the answer. One, on the other hand, claims that help can be found a lot closer to home – specifically, within the construction of the tire itself.

In June, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. introduced two new super wide truck tires for long-haul applications that feature the company’s DuraSeal Technology, which up until that point had been offered in select Goodyear conventional size linehaul and short-haul/mixed-service truck tires.

Goodyear officials called the introduction of DuraSeal to the super wide segment a “game-changer.” DuraSeal’s integration with these tires “takes the already-unique wide-base product category to the next level,” says Donn Kramer, Goodyear truck tire dir­ector of product marketing.

Why Now?
A decade ago, Michelin brought its X One to the North American truck tire market, and over the years its intense focus on weight savings as a means to improved fuel economy and more profitable loads made an impression on the market.

Other tiremakers, including Goodyear and Bridgestone, sat on the sidelines and watched the market develop. They promised to one day deliver their own super wide portfolio – as did other producers – but it took a few years.

Goodyear took “a more conservative ap­proach” to the segment, according to Kram­er. “We did not aggressively pursue super wides because of the issue of downtime for fleets,” he says. “When a driver is running duals and one tire gets punctured, he or she might decide to put the load on the remaining tire and limp to a service location.
With or without DuraSeal, tire dealers, drivers and truck techs still need to maintain proper inflation pressure in super wides.

“When a driver is running super wides and a tire is punctured, the vehicle is down, and downtime has so many negative consequences. It affects the truck driver’s hours of service, it adversely impacts on-time delivery schedules, and at the end of the day, it can lead to revenue loss and higher cost of operations for the fleets. When you take these factors into account, it’s no wonder that some fleets have been hesitant to spec’ super wide tires.”

At the same time, those fleets that made the switch are enjoying the weight savings, increased revenue and other benefits that the technology offers, says Kramer.

“One of the main benefits is weight savings exceeding 1,100 lbs. per truck, which creates revenue-gain opportunities for the fleets by giving them the ability to increase their payload. Because of this, super wide tires remain a popular option for any fleet that consistently hauls heavy loads.”

Reduced fuel consumption is the direct advantage of lower weight, particularly when comparing super wides to non-fuel efficient duals. “If you compare Goodyear dual tires that are fuel efficient vs. fuel efficient Goodyear super wide tires, fuel economy would be comparable,” Kramer claims.

Kramer says super wide tires also may generate less noise than duals. “Many drivers like these tires because they ride quietly and smoothly.”

Goodyear’s insertion of DuraSeal into its new G392 SSD and G394 SST super wide radials gives fleets one more compelling reason to make the switch from duals, provided that doing so fits their business models, says Kramer.

“In some cases, fleets will find it more effective – from the perspectives of cost and general operational efficiency – to continue to run standard duals. And if you’re a commercial truck tire dealer, you, of course, want to be aligned with a supplier that can provide a broad menu of these products.

“But for fleets that want to enjoy weight savings and other benefits that super wide tires provide, but have been somewhat hesitant to make the investment due to lack of limp-home capability, we believe the self-sealing properties of DuraSeal will make running these tires a much more attractive proposition,” notes Kramer.

The DuraSeal Technology resides bet­ween a tire’s innerliner and body plies, says Kevin Legge, Goodyear commercial truck tire project manager. The material instantly seals punctures of up to ¼-inch in the repairable area of the tread. (It does not seal sidewall punctures.)

“It’s a very low-viscosity material that will fill in the hole in the crown region of the tire, or seal around the penetrating object – such as a nail – if it remains in the tread, as well as the puncture in the inner liner,” he explains. “It doesn’t just seal the hole; it also helps protects the steel body ply and belts from moisture, which can lead to rust.”

Steady Growth
Kramer says super wide tires, industry-wide, comprise “a relatively small base. Super wides represent about 1.5% of that overall market. At the same time, their share of the overall market has continued to grow at double digit rates.”

John Kotanides Jr., Goodyear strategic accounts technical manager, who has worked on his company’s super wide concept for years, says super wide tires “are not a traditional, evolutionary sort of development; they’re more of a revolutionary development. Because of this, fleets have paid more attention to them and have tried to learn as much about the tires as possible.

“There are a lot of people out there who say super wide is still a niche market, but we believe the segment has a bright future, especially as worries about downtime diminish.”

Ask Customers, ‘Why Are You Considering Super Wides?’
Dealers who are selling the super wide concept to fleets should first ask several questions, says Larry Tucker, Goodyear segment marketing manager. “The big question is, ‘Are you considering putting these tires on because of the weight savings, or are you doing it because you think it’s the best thing for fuel economy?’

“In our company’s case, we’ve put a lot of technological improvements into dual tires, so you can get comparable fuel economy by using fuel-efficient duals.”

Conversely, a super wide unit is lighter than duals, “so if your primary goal is to save on weight, this tire may be the right choice, depending on the application. Make sure you know your customers’ needs before recommending a specific tire.”