Fleet managers know all too well that tires are often one of their biggest expenses. Working with a trusted tire dealer can help fleets manage costs by obtaining quality products and services that are readily available – sometimes over several years (depending on the application) – and helping fleets choose the right tires and services for their specific needs.
We asked five of the top truck tire manufacturers to tell us what types of products and services they and their dealers offer – and where the value is for their customers.
Matt Loos, director of truck tire marketing, says that since tire management varies from fleet to fleet, they recommend fleet managers establish a benchmark for their tire management program. “A tire dealer or tire manufacturer’s sales representative can help establish benchmarks and offer insight into best practices that other fleets in similar segments have implemented successfully.
“Fleet managers should identify the average miles that can be expected on each wheel position and application within the fleet. Many successful fleets have established metrics ranging from cost-per-driver-hour, or engine-hour, to the standard cost-per-mile. It is popular to factor fuel costs into the equation when fuel prices escalates.
“Retreads play a major role as a tire program best practice. Quality new tires are made to be retreaded. Given that retreads typically cost a fraction of a new tire and perform as well as or better, it makes sense for the bottom line to incorporate retreads into a tire program.
“When it comes to cradle-to-grave support, Bridgestone offers the Fleet Analyzer 2.0. This is a mobile and Web-based inspection tool to assist with fleet management. The Fleet Analyzer 2.0 software includes in-service and yard-check modules to assess general tire health, forecast tire replacement, and correct immediate problems before they become costly downtime.
“Greater attention to good tire care practices helps to improve wear-out performance and fuel economy for the fleet, and it can help reduce costly road calls. And, fleets that use retreaded tires do a better job of protecting and caring for tire casings to ensure they can be retreaded. Incorporating retreads into a tire program is also good for the environment and the community, as well.”
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.
Gary Schroeder, director of commercial vehicle and OEM sales at Cooper, says, “The first step in a tire management program is to conduct a fleet tire inspection survey of a representative amount of tires and equipment. This survey is a standard industry practice. If the fleet has multiple locations of operation, tire inspection surveys should be conducted at as many of the locations as possible. Once the data collection is complete, fleets can then work with the tire manufacturer evaluating their specific business model, including the number of trucks, number of trailers, average length of haul and travel patterns.
“Based on the size and needs of the fleet, our team is able to work with the fleet manager by wheel position to pick the optimum tire for that individual fleet, taking into consideration tire characteristics such as fuel economy, durability, traction, miles to removal, casing retreadability and price.
“The casing quality will tell you a great deal about the tire – how it will hold up and the value the tire has for its second and third life in retreading. When choosing a new tire, part of the consideration should be a review of the tire manufacturer’s warranty and casing allowance.”
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Brian Buckham, general manager of product marketing for Goodyear states that his company offers a total solution of “trusted products, reliable services, business solutions and a nationwide network – all geared to help fleet customers lower operating costs. In addition to premium, trusted tires and retreads, we offer a wide range of best-in-class services through our Goodyear Commercial Tire & Service Network locations across the country.
“Services and business solutions include 24/7 Goodyear-Fleet HQ Emergency Roadside Service, which has helped more than one million trucks return to service; Goodyear’s Tire Trac online tire management tool the Goodyear Smart Tech App, which gives fleets greater visibility into the roadside service call process and is reducing truck roll-time; the Goodyear Roadside Service App, which instantly connects truck drivers who need help with Goodyear-Fleet HQ Emergency Roadside Service; and more.
“In addition, Goodyear Commercial Tire & Service Network locations have the experience and expertise to evaluate fleet tire and vehicle needs and make the most appropriate recommendations to optimize performance and lower fleet operating costs. It’s important for fleets to track the performance of their tires in order to get the most out of them. Goodyear’s Tire Trac online tire management tool, which is part of the Goodyear Total Solution for fleets, helps monitor tire installations, tire and retread performance, tire inflation, reasons why tires were removed from service, and other key metrics. It also helps fleets identify tire maintenance opportunities, which has resulted in real savings.
“Retreads are a viable alternative for cost-conscious fleets. Our retreads include seamless Goodyear UniCircle retreads, which look and performslike a new tire.
“Goodyear’s GTRACS system enables fleets to monitor the progress of their casings as they move through the retreading process.
“Working with trusted suppliers allows fleets to tap into the vast expertise and experience that these individuals offer, which can help fleets lower their operating costs.”
Michelin North America
Paul Crehan, director of product marketing, Michelin North America’s truck tire business, notes that there are several different ways Michelin assists fleet managers to ensure they have the appropriate tire management program for their specific operations.
“Michelin provides training to dealer service techs at the Michelin Sales Training Center in Greenville, S.C. Michelin also has training facilities in Canada and Mexico. Dealers and service technicians receive specialized Tire Industry Association training on pertinent topics and procedures as well as on Michelin programs.
“Classes are available in English and Spanish. We have worked with the TIA to provide training material and have developed a program with our Michelin Commercial Service Network franchisees, which requires TIA certification for technicians. Michelin supports the use of TIA and other industry wide training certifications. Organizations, such as TMC, also offer dealer training classes.
“Dealers can also get training through the online videos available on the website. Michelin also encourages users to utilize the Michelin Tire Maintenance Guide which is available online.
“Michelin Tire Care, is a fully digital, nationwide fleet tire monitoring program that utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to capture truck tire data. Fleets use the data to maximize fleet uptime and control tire-related costs. The program reduces road service calls, improves Compliance Safety Accountability scores, maximizes fuel economy and improves tire mileage. All of the maintenance data captured through the national network is made available to fleets in real-time via direct integration with their asset maintenance system.
“The service provides fleet managers the tools to expertly manage their maintenance; control costs and assures the job will be done properly. It allows managers to spend less time gathering data and more time making decisions.
“We offer Michelin Oncall 2.0, emergency road service that features mechanical service and towing, in addition to tire services, includes Livetrack real-time breakdown monitoring and FixPix tire event pictures. ERS online dashboard reports allow fleets to access information, including events by servicing dealer and tire downtime metrics.
“Finally, fleets should have a scrap tire analysis program to identify tire removal causest, looking at patterns or repeated damages, and anything else that is preventable to assist in making future tire decisions.”
Yokohama Tire Corp.
Rick Phillips, vice president of sales for Yokohama, concurs that every fleet and every operation is different. “When our people visit a new fleet they gather as much information as possible about that particular fleet. Once they have acquired the basic information, we have various resources such as web-based tools and assistance from our technical group to analyze the info. Once we have performed a proper analysis, we will then construct a plan of action. At that point, we would make a presentation to the fleet manager. This, of course, takes time and also discipline to not cut corners and rush the process. Most fleet managers will appreciate, and see the value in, a well thought out program.
“When it comes to tire tracking, maintenance and retreading, our services will vary from fleet to fleet based on their vocation and type of hauling. We have the flexibility to work with fleets and customize a program based on their specific needs. Yokohama does not actually offer a retread product. However, our casing design makes it one of the most retreadable casings in the industry so it will work with any of the major recognized retread solutions.
“While it is hard to put a price tag on the value a good supplier/partner brings to the table, I guess another way to ask the question is how much does working with a bad supplier, or running a low quality cheap product cost? A good tire program is an investment, an investment in premium products, and an investment in the time it takes to create and maintain the program. It is also an investment in good people to execute the program. If done properly, putting all these pieces together properly will produce a healthy return on the investment.”