Since tires are one of the highest operating costs for a fleet and vital to their operation, they should be treated as assets, not expendable commodities. They need to be tracked and managed through all their life phases, from their purchase to their retreading to their disposal. That’s where a tire management program comes in.
With a program in place, a company could not only save money but be secure in the knowledge that they’re doing what they can to help prevent any accidents. But what should be considered when creating and implementing a comprehensive tire management strategy for your fleet? We outline some key tips below:
It may seem simple, but the first step to a tire management program is picking the right tires for the task at hand. Seek out a reputable supplier, whether you are purchasing retreads or new tires. Ensure you also use an experienced tire professional to properly install, repair, and maintain all tires. When selecting tires, there are several factors that should be considered: the type of truck, weight, and run time can have a big impact on what types of tires are best suited for the application or job.
Once the appropriate tires have been selected, it’s important to not have mismatched tread or tire height. This generally occurs when one or more tires needs to be replaced early, due to something like a blowout. While it may seem like a good way to save money in the short term, it can lead to several issues. Paired tires that have too great of a diameter difference can place uneven strain on the tires, which will cause one tire to scrub and wear out faster.
Train your employees
Investing in your drivers and maintenance staff’s education and resources from the get-go could save you money down the line. By becoming accustomed to routinely checking their tires and responding quickly to road hazards, drivers may be able to avoid some incidents on the road entirely and if something should happen, they will be prepared. As an owner or manager, you need to establish the company’s best practices for your employees to follow that will help reduce the risk of tire damage or disintegration.
As you put your maintenance and training strategy together, consider these key tips:
- Have employees check tires at least once a day, and always during a pre-trip inspection.
- Train drivers on how to identify the signs of tire failure and how to report defects based on company policies.
- Once out on the road, if a driver encounters road debris or is driving on rough terrain, they should be instructed to inspect all tires at the next stop or when it is safe to do so.
- Drivers should be trained in sound defensive driving techniques, such as active road scanning and how to safely avoid hazards.
- Educate your maintenance staff on how to safely uninstall, install, and inspect all tires for defects and damage.
- Have employees rotate, balance, and align tires periodically to ensure proper wear.
Drivers should also be instructed to drive according to the tire’s maximum recommended speed. They should be aware of the tire’s restrictions as sometimes it may be lower than the road’s posted speed limit.
Check tire pressure
Both over-inflation and underinflation of tires can change what areas of the tire are making contact with the road. This, in turn, can lead to possible loss of traction, excessive heat buildup, or increased vulnerability to cutting, punctures, or damage. The tread area may also wear irregularly when not contacting the road evenly, and this may cause tires to wear more rapidly. Proper tire inflation helps ensure the weight of the truck is distributed evenly, which can maximize treadwear life, provide quicker steering response, and provide better fuel efficiency.
That’s why tire pressure should be checked regularly, especially during cold weather, to ensure the recommended tire pressures are maintained. Maintaining a record of not just tire pressure checks and adjustments, but also all performed maintenance can help ensure tires are checked frequently enough and no routine inspections are missed.
Play it safe
Having a tire management program in place can help increase the lifespan of a fleet’s tires and save the company money in the long run. It can also limit the chance of a tire blowout on the road, helping to ensure the safety of your employees and those on the road around them.
But even with proper maintenance schedules and regular training, accidents can happen on or off the road. The Northbridge Insurance Risk Services team can help your company with many aspects of your risk management program through assessments, education, and consulting. All services and training offerings offered by the Risk Services team are designed to help you run a safer, more profitable business.