Construction fleets can realize significant cost savings simply by taking the time to care for their tire casings. "Casings are the core of your tire investment," according to Tim Miller, marketing communication manager for Goodyear. "If you focus on that investment, you will reap the rewards of a lower cost-per-mile for the life of the tire."
How often a tire can normally be retreaded depends on various factors, some dependent on application, others on management practices. As a general rule, the faster the wear, the more times a tire may be retreaded since there is not as much fatigue in the casing. Construction fleets may get five or more retreads on a casing provided they don't lose the tire due to injuries.
Miller says there are several key practices and guidelines that construction fleet operators can adopt to extract the maximum value out of casings.
1. Maintain Inflation Pressures — Running underinflated tires wastes fuel and also leads to overheating and potential casing damage. Check tire air pressures every day with a calibrated gauge. Tire manufacturers can provide recommended tire pressures for different tire types by position and application. Once you have determined correct pressures, set up a tire pressure maintenance program that assists in keeping tires inflated to optimum pressures.
2. Spec The Right Tire — Construction fleets require tires that can withstand more punishment than many other applications. Choose treads that have stone ejectors and tire designs that have extra sidewall protection. Treads and sidewalls that resist cutting and chipping will protect the casing for retreading. Do not choose a tire design with a pressure distribution groove. Matching the load rating of the tire to the job required is also imperative. It may be tempting to run a cheaper tire in a particular position, but the upfront savings will be gone with premature failure or early removal.
3. Stay On Top Of Duals — Inside dual positions are often neglected because they are out of sight and out of mind. Make sure both tires in a dual assembly are kept at recommended inflation pressures so they are both carrying the load evenly. Running with one tire underinflated not only puts stress on that tire, it also overstresses the other tire and may ruin two good casings. When replacing duals, always use tires with matching circumferences. Goodyear recommends no more than 3/4-inch circumference difference for tires that are 8.25R20 and 1.5 inches for tires 9.00R20 and larger.
4. Educate Drivers — Most good drivers will know that casings can be damaged when the tire is repeatedly striking curbs and other solid objects. However, it doesn't hurt to remind them regularly in safety meetings and in company newsletters. Impact damage is usually hidden to drivers and only becomes evident when the tire is pulled for retreading. If drivers pay a little closer attention when turning or negotiating job sites, they can avoid impacts and tire damage can be reduced significantly.
5. Earlier Removal — Running tires down to minimum tread depths before pulling for retreading usually doesn't pay. In fact, it usually makes more sense to pull them when they are 2/32 inch or more away from minimum legal depths. "Even though you are giving up usable tread, that value is outweighed by the value of a healthy casing and lower risk of tire failure," says Miller. "You want to have from 6/32-inch to 8/32-inch tread depth remaining to protect your casing for retreading." There's also some value in maintaining deeper treads than required, particularly on trucks operating in rugged or muddy conditions where traction is critical.
6. Do High Quality Repairs — Improperly repaired tires will shorten casing life and lead to early removals. A certified retreader will have the equipment to check tires for damage and make repairs before the damage becomes irreparable. The latest tire scanning technology can detect both visible and hidden damage. Repair guidelines for retreading include unlimited nail hole repairs, a maximum of two section repairs per tire, up to a 3/8-inch injury in the tread area only, and limited sidewall repairs based on stress zone. Information on retreaded tires should be tracked, allowing a fleet to stay on top of repair records for individual casings.
7. Inspect Tires Regularly — Tire inspections should be built into regular truck PM programs, as well as driver pre-trip and post-trip inspections. Due to the large potential for puncture and sidewall damage in construction fleets, these inspections should include a checklist of conditions to watch for, including under-inflation, visible sidewall damage, tread damage, irregular wear, and objects embedded in tires. Use fingertip diagnostics to check tread and sidewall for any signs of damage, sidewall undulations, chipping, chunking, etc. "Fleets should then be ready to act on the information," Miller advises. "The goal is to catch things when they are still minor and prevent them from becoming serious enough to scrap the tire."
8. Take Advantage of Innovation — Tires are not all built the same way. Some are designed with elements that help extend casing life. For example, Goodyear's Enhanced Casing Design (ECD) includes advanced compounding to lower running temperatures and reduce bead cracking; a special top belt that protects the rest of the belt package from corrosion; and a stronger overall belt package. A new severe service tread compound, used in the G288 MSA, provides excellent resistance to cutting, chipping and tearing. Using tires with a built-in sealant is also an excellent choice for construction fleets. It can seal multiple punctures, maintaining the tire's air pressure and allowing it to remain in service until the tire is worn to the point where it is ready for repair and retreading.