After many years of a slow off-the-road tire market, there seems to be a lot more positive activity.
This brighter outlook has end users looking forward to a very productive year. Equipment will be utilized more, which translates to higher tire usage, so tire dealers need to prepare. Understanding your customers’ tire requirements will help you to place the correct tire for the job, which will reduce their cost per hour (CPH).
Customers are looking for ways to improve their CPH by maximizing tire performance, and they are looking for a sales person to work closely with them to make this happen.
There will be a lot of demand from your customers to deliver their product at a competitive cost, which puts pressure on you, the commercial tire dealer, to select the correct tire. You cannot assume that supplying the same type of tire to different parties is the right thing to do.
Since tire prices are starting to increase, it is even more important for you to select the correct tire for the application. This is why the tire dealer’s approach to selling OTR tires needs to change. Salespeople need to be more of a consultant/analyst rather than just another tire salesperson.
So, what is the difference between a salesperson versus a consultant? A salesperson has one focus: to sell a tire to the customer at a price. This often happens without understanding or knowing if the operation or equipment usage has or is going to change.
A consultant knows customers continue to look for assistance from all of their suppliers to help them reduce their cost to operate. Analyzing the demands on the tire by doing site audits, knowing the reasons for tire removal, training and future operational changes helps in placing the correct OTR tire the first time.
Let’s look at some of the different areas that need to be studied when making a decision on placing the correct tire.
Tire Maintenance Support
1. Whether it is a loader or haulage vehicle, the most important maintenance practice to maximize tire performance is having the correct air pressure in each tire. Many factors go into determining the proper air pressure, such as the load being carried, cycle times of the equipment or even where the tire is located on the equipment. If there is any question on the proper air pressure, contact the tire manufacturer to obtain their recommendation.
2. Is the account doing the proper tire rotation to maximize performance? Are they starting the new tires in the front wheel position and then rotating to the rear position based on an established program? Can the account obtain more hours on the front wheel position before rotating to the back, which maximizes tire life, or is the demand for rear tires forcing them to rotate early? These are questions that need to be discussed with the customer. Having good tire records will help to make a better decision.
1. The most common mistake is thinking more tread is always better. In the past, more tread generally was better as the equipment basically did the same thing every day. Today loaders are being used for multiple purposes. One day the loader could be in the pit loading trucks (L5) and the next moving material from the stockpile to the crusher (load and carry) (L4) and the next working in the load out area (L4 or L3). This creates an opportunity for the tire dealer in regards to making sure the right tire is recommended.
2. Loaders have become much more productive (faster cycle times) and in most cases heavier (manufacturer upgrades and safety additions). In most cases, they still have the same size tire as they did when the machine was first introduced, except the loader may now have radial tires instead of bias tires.
3. Mining and pit operations are constantly changing and in most cases the distance to the pit, crusher or conveying systems are increasing. This means that the tires are working harder with less cool down time.
1. Like the loaders, haulage trucks have become more productive. For example, the trend of electric drive trucks is now AC drives. The AC drive allows the trucks to reach the maximum speed faster and at the same time maintain that speed longer. Also, you cannot ignore the mechanical drive trucks as they, too, are more productive than the older models. While trucks can only go as fast as the slowest truck in regards to cycle time, customers are looking to either upgrade the trucks or move the trucks around so they are better matched to achieve maximum performance.
2. As mining and pit operations mature, the hauls get longer and the grades steeper. Both have a bearing on tire wear and should be fully analyzed prior to placing tires.
3. Conditions of the site (haul roads, curves, loading and dumping areas) are critical to the life expectancy of haulage tires.
4. Tire maintenance programs, should be closely monitored to ensure that best practices are in place.
Articulated Dump Trucks (ADT’s)
1. This type of haul truck has become very popular in recent years as they can go on both improved and unimproved haul roads.
2. ADT’s are generally a 6×6 drive, which means they are very versatile to almost any underfoot environment.
3. Tires tend to wear faster in all wheel positions especially when the three axles are engaged making each wheel position pull the load.
4. Cycle times are generally faster. This could create more heat in the tire, which limits the selection of the tread depth that can be installed.
Maximizing Tire Life
1. Site Study – Look at each critical area of the operation; loading and dumping areas, haul roads, intersections, grades and overall site maintenance to determine where improvements and training are needed to enhance tire performance.
2. Review the ton-mile-per-hour/ton-kilometer-per-hour (TMPH/TKPH) for haulage trucks (rigid frame and ADT’s) or work capacity factor (WCF) for loaders to determine correct compound and tread depth recommended.
a. For haul trucks, analyze the most demanding hauls unless the trucks are designated to specific locations within the operation. Each haul needs to be reviewed separately to determine proper recommendation(s). The information can be gathered by doing a GPS study if you have a program to download the information or the basic “on the paper” calculation. Either way, the information is critical.
b. As with the haul trucks, loaders need to be analyzed based on the worst-case scenario. Once the WCF is completed and the data analyzed, you will be able to recommend the correct depth (L3, L4 or L5), compound (cut or heat resistant) and design of tire for the application. Deeper tread (L5) tires may no longer be the tire of choice at your customers operation due to the change in the productivity of the machine.
3. Having facts to back up your analysis and decision are important. This is why doing a complete “out of service/scrap” tire inspection will help to confirm the findings from your site analysis and support the decision as to the tire being recommended for the customer.
4. Tire records are often talked about but not completed. Having accurate tire records, whether completed by the tire dealer or the customer, is critical to a successful OTR tire program. Tire records provide valuable data as to the actual tire performance, reasons for removal plus many other comprehensive reports. There are many great OTR tire record programs to choose from. The important thing is to select one and start recording the data.
With new equipment becoming more productive along with your customers’ focus on maximizing tire performance while obtaining new production levels create new challenges to the tire supplier. This is why, taking your skills and knowledge to another level by doing the site audits, maintenance reviews, and tire removal analysis allows you to consult with your customer and recommend the correct tire that will work for their operation. Exceeding your customer’s expectation with detailed facts will help to build a solid long-term relationship.