Tire service trucks can be a profitable customer service solution for an independent tire dealer – if the dealer selects the right truck. According to a service body manufacturer and a coordinator for a road service fleet, the following are points to consider when purchasing a vehicle to serve commercial truck, OTR, industrial and agricultural customers.
Dealers should start the process of choosing a tire service truck by identifying the needs of their applications. Is the dealer performing service, new tire sales, retreading or a combination of those functions? What size and quantity of tires will be transported and handled, and how frequently? What is the vehicle’s payload requirement? How much air and tool usage will be involved? What are the federal and local road and axle restrictions? By answering those questions, dealers will be able to determine the appropriate package of components, including a truck chassis, compressed air system, tire-lifting device and a service body capable of hauling tires and securing tools.
Make performance the top priority, not cost. An improperly sized and equipped truck will actually be more expensive in the long run because it leads to inefficiency. When identifying needs, seek and value input from the service technicians who are responsible for actually operating the vehicle efficiently and safely. Select an integrated unit featuring maximum load capacity, plenty of storage and options for customization.
If a dealer is working solely with commercial tires, then a truck with an articulating crane may be valuable. With agriculture, OTR and industrial tire service, a crane may be necessary to lift and change tires, and a liquid ballast pumping system could be incorporated. Keep in mind that the cranes used in tire service are not only material-handling devices, they are also tools. Cranes reduce the amount of time it takes to mount, dismount and lift tires, and they prevent operator injury – important because even today’s smaller industrial tires weigh hundreds of pounds. Select a crane that is designed to perform both material handling and tire changing. Center-mounted cranes provide the most flexibility because they enable an operator to work off of both sides of the vehicle, whereas corner-mounted cranes limit the technician to safely working off one side only. Consider the need for crane attachments, including tire-clamp devices that grasp and manipulate a tire in a safe manner during a mount/dismount operation.
Make sure the crane manufacturer you choose meets American National Standards Institute (ANSI) B30.22 standards that demand chassis, crane and body combinations are tested to ensure stability, require regular crane inspections and stipulate recommended operating practices. Some cities, states and regions also require periodic inspections of cranes and their carrier vehicles that apply to dealerships. Currently, 17 states and six cities have licensing requirements for crane operators. In the near future, cranes will need to be certified independently and operators will be required to be licensed independently.
Make sure the technicians operating the vehicle are TIA-trained on road and truck safety, as well as tire service and handling, and equip the truck with proper personal safety equipment including goggles, gloves, fire extinguisher (charged and inspected), wheel chocks and first-aid kit with eye wash materials. A quick call-guide listing emergency phone numbers and procedures should be mounted on the dash.
After investing in a truck, care for it diligently. To avoid the consequences of service truck downtime and promote longevity, dealers should follow regular preventive maintenance recommendations, not only for the service truck’s chassis, but also for the body, crane and air compressor.
The new truck has the potential to be a rolling billboard for the dealership, so do not pass up the opportunity to advertise on the exterior. As a rolling billboard, it is essential to your good image to maintain it and keep it clean.