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Commercial Tires

Scrap Tire Analysis Improves Fleet Operation, Boosts Dealer Profits

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It’s hard to imagine many jobs as unpleasant as dealing with scrap tires. Most fleets store….pile…throw (circle the word appropriate to your fleet customers’ operations) scrap tires somewhere behind the maintenance shop. The tires often settle in a low-lying area where they collect water, mold, mildew and, eventually, bugs (usually mosquitoes).

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When the pile gets so big that it can no longer be ignored, somebody makes a phone call and the tires are unceremoniously hauled way.

Instead of looking at the pile of tires as a nuisance to be discarded, consider the hidden treasure a commercial fleet may be throwing away. In that pile of tires is knowledge. That smelly, dirty, bug-infested pile of scrap may tell tire dealers some good stories about what is right and, perhaps more importantly, what is wrong with a fleet’s tire program.

The great news is that the first trip to the scrap pile for tire analysis is only the beginning. With the information gathered over time, fleets can see trends that can guide in making choices about driver training and fleet maintenance procedures. Eventually, fleets will see if those choices have a positive effect.

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Tire dealers who offer a scrap tire analysis program to their fleet customers have one more tool in their arsenal when it comes to benefits that set them apart from the competition. Read on to learn the ins and outs of a successful scrap tire analysis program.

Collecting the Data
Going through a pile of scrap tires should not be a one-person job. It’s easier to have at least one person to help move tires around and another to write and input tire data. The more tires there are to move, the more people you may want to recruit – including a tire company sales representative.

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Since tires can be dirty, particularly ones that have been sitting for some time, be sure everyone wears old clothes (coveralls are even better) and leather gloves to protect hands against cuts and scrapes. Have at least one large awl available for digging into cuts, nail holes and loose belts. Other useful tools include long nose pliers, flashlight, tire crayon and tread depth gauge.

Before diving into the pile of tires, create a blank spreadsheet with the following headings: Tire Brand, Type, # RTs, 32nds, Last RT DOT/Date, Reason

Start at the last column on the right of your spreadsheet and work left:

Reason
Briefly describe why the tire is sitting in the scrap pile. If a tire is worn evenly down to 2/32nds, has multiple retreads and has no holes in it, give it a pat on the tread. It made it. Here is a tire that fulfilled its early life promise to the fleet customer: “Buy me, and I will deliver lots of original miles and many more as a retread, as a retread and, again, as a retread.”

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You’ll also find some tires in the pile with sad stories to tell. Determining just what those stories are can be a challenge for even the most seasoned tire professional. The Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide, available from the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council, may be able to help.

This book not only has great color photos of all kinds of tire conditions, it also lists the probable causes.   

A few of those causes may stem from driver abuse, such as brake skids and sidewall curb damage, which can be great subjects to cover when discussing tires with a commercial customer. While it’s a shame, it’s possible you may see a brand new tire with a brake skid worn through all the belts and into or past the body ply of the tire. It happens.

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Such wear conditions are best caught when the tire is still on the tractor or trailer, so a correction can be made immediately. But, even if they aren’t discovered until the tire is in the scrap pile, other issues such as irregular tire wear can still offer glimpses into how well the fleet is doing in maintaining proper vehicle alignment. Too many tires with big differences between the wear on one side of the tread and the wear on the other side indicates that alignment issues are not being addressed. And those differences may be a sign alignment checks need to be reviewed.

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Last Retread DOT/Date
If retreading is part of a fleet’s tire program, they will be happy to see three or four retread and date codes branded onto the sidewall of the tires. Each time a retreader puts a new tread on a tire, a U.S. Department of Transportation assigned two-letter ID code and the week and year of the retreading is branded on the tire. So, if you find an issue with a repair, retread materials or workmanship, you can trace the problem back to the source.

32nds (Tread Depth)
Ideally, tires in a scrap pile should be worn down to the tread depth that has been designated as the “pull” depths for steer, drive and trailer tires; the depth should be fairly consistent across and around the tire. Often, when some sort of irregular wear pattern has happened, tread depth measurements can be vastly different depending on where you measure. First, note this irregular wear, then measure the shallowest point in a “major tread groove” and record this as the tire’s tread depth.

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Recording the tread depth allows you to see trends among prematurely wearing tires. Over time, what you learn from scrap tire analysis should extend tire mileage and the average tread depth of tires.

Number of Retreads (# RTs)
For each tire inspected, the number of retread codes tells how many times the tire has been retreaded. Over the long term, you may find that some brands of tires or tire models within a particular brand lend themselves well to the retreading process since fleets get more retreads per casing. Gather lots of data before you draw conclusions.

New Tire Brand and Type
A scrap tire analysis should tell you what is working for a fleet and what is not. Over time, with several scrap tire analysis parties under your belt, your spreadsheet of scrap tire data might begin to show some definite trends. You also might discover that some tires can more consistently handle multiple retreadings.

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A fleet’s tires are valuable assets to its operation. Wrestling them around in a scrap pile is hard work, but the information they can reveal may save that fleet a lot of money – and earn your tire dealership a loyal customer – in the long run.

The stories told by the tires in the scrap pile will give you subject matter for future meetings with your commercial customers. A scrap pile analysis also gives you information for recommending tires with the proper tread designs and the right retreading methods for your fleet customers. It allows you to assess how well new tire developments work for fleets, thereby avoiding past mistakes.

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Tim Miller is commercial tire marketing communications manager for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

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