Customers look to you to make the correct tire recommendation for their specific application. But, when the tire being used is not correct in both the size and type for the specific application, what can you do? This is a question that is asked many times, especially when the tire that was installed from the OE manufacturer is not meeting performance expectations.
In many cases, the machine limits what can be done regarding any changes from the original tire-and-rim assembly. But in some cases, there are opportunities to make these changes, which is why you need to look at all options.
Once you have determined that there might be an opportunity to change the complete tire-and-rim assembly, what action should be taken?
Recently when visiting with a customer, we were discussing the different tire costs for them to operate their equipment. The tires that I thought would be their highest cost per hour to operate turned out to be incorrect. We all get caught in the same trap – we look at all the big tires thinking that they are the highest cost per hour to operate, while other equipment could be the highest cost per hour to operate. This may not always be the case, but when it is, there might be an opportunity to really make a difference in your customers’ operating cost. This is when your knowledge and skills will make a difference.
As stated above, I was recently faced with this opportunity and proceeded to look at several different options. The customer was using side-dumped trailers with wide flotation agricultural tires. Generally, the tires would come out of service with 50% or more of tread life remaining.
The main reasons for removal were impacts and casing failure. The trailers were designed for a wide flotation tire so there was stability when the load was dumped. The issue was that the speed at which the trailers were pulled, plus the weight they hauled, pushed the limits of the agricultural tires. All this contributed to the tires being run beyond their capability resulting in tire failure. What we found out was the account was changing one tire per wheel position per year, which was not acceptable.
Over the years, the customer kept looking for different options. The servicing tire dealers investigated different brands of agricultural tires but did not look at changing the actual tire construction and rim assembly.
After looking at the operation, it was clear something needed to change with the tire being placed on the equipment. The trailers exceeding 40 mph and the heavy loads being hauled made the choices of change very limited. The agricultural tire that was used has a top speed of 40 mph. Also, finding a tire that would be able to support the side dump trailer when the load was discharged – and not allow the trailer to flip on its side – was the challenge. Therefore, the flotation tires were installed. They were not made for this application but more of an agricultural type of operation.
In looking at the many different off-the-road (OTR) tire offerings, making the right selection can be the challenge. In this case, both the tire and wheel would have to be changed.
After looking at the many different offerings, the selected tire was a mobile crane tire. The tire could handle both the speed (50 mph rated tire) and loads. But the concern was the width and if we could have a rim manufactured with an offset to support the side-dump trailer when discharging the load.
Then, we spoke with those in charge of the account and presented the different options along with the cost. Once the customer approved, the next hurdle that had to be cleared was with the trailer manufacturer. We were looking to place a larger overall diameter tire but narrower than the OE tire installed. Also, we needed to obtain the approval on the maximum amount of offset that would be allowed on the rims and would not affect the bearing or spindle life. The engineering group from the trailer manufacturer did approve and provided the exact drawings with the maximum offset for the trailers. But with the width being 4 inches narrower, no one knew if this would support the weight shift when the load was dumped.
The last step was finding a reliable wheel manufacturer who would produce the rims as designed by the trailer engineers. When one starts to look at different options and talk with the manufacturers, it is amazing the support and knowledge that is in this industry and people willing to help.
The decision made was to move forward with converting one trailer and running it for four months. At that time, depending on the results, the decision would be made to either scrap the idea and stay with the flotation tires, or start to convert the trailers over to the mobile crane tire with the new rim. In the first four months, the trailer never had any stability issues with the different tires nor has the account pulled any of the mobile crane tires. But, during this four months, they removed over 12 of the flotation tires.
The account is now moving forward changing out a trailer every quarter. The cost savings per year is unknown as we do not know the actual life expectancy that they will get from the mobile crane tire. But the estimate would be changing out no more than 12 tires a year versus 38 tires a year now with the flotation tires.
This is one example of a successful change-out program that worked and will save the customer a large amount of money each year. Do you have the same type of opportunity with some of your customers? Step back and look. If you are replacing a lot of tires for one specific application, making the cost to operate high, this might be your target.
Yes, it is great to keep selling the customer a lot of tires – especially if you are a commissioned salesperson. But in the end, someone else may step in and find a better solution. Then you could end up losing those sales and potentially the customer. Customers are looking to you for solutions when they are facing some higher-than-usual costs on a specific piece of equipment.
There may not be an alternative due to the equipment and how it was designed. In that case, keep looking for the best alternative by supplying the tire that will deliver the lowest cost per hour or mile possible. Work with your preferred tire manufacturer to select a different tread pattern and/or compound. Either one or both could make a major difference in enhancing the overall performance of the tire.
Remember, analyze the situation of concern. Then, determine if there is another alternative. If you have any questions about making any changes, contact the equipment manufacturer as well as the tire manufacturer. You want to be sure that all your questions are addressed before taking any action.