Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire (BFNT) recently held an "Off-Road-Tire Boot Camp" for industry journalists at its Bloomington, Ill., facility, which makes a range of large off-highway tires, including the giant 70/70-57 that is 13.1 feet tall, 6.16 feet wide and weighs just shy of 15,000 pounds.
Jack Dutcher, national training and development manager for Bridgestone Firestone Off Road Tire (a BFNT operating company), was the principal instructor, helping students understand the design and construction of large tires; the criteria for selecting correct tires; and the critical aspects of tire maintenance and management. Did you know, for instance, that wet rocks on haul roads and loading floors are far better at cutting tires than dry rocks — simply because of the water's lubricating affect? So, make sure the water-truck driver uses just enough water to keep the dust down. Wet tires also slip, resulting in added wear.
You've heard before that proper inflation is critical for extending tire life, but Dutcher greatly emphasized the point: "A tire is a pressure vessel," he says. "It must operate at its designed shape to provide the best traction, braking and flexing."
Dutcher suggests that in-service tires be inspected every shift for new cuts and bulges, for changes in previous injuries and for rim integrity. Every operation needs a "tire boss," he says, someone who methodically tracks tire injuries and who makes timely calls to the tire dealer. He suggests, too, that fleet owners have a "tire committee" to evaluate out-of-service tires and to consider corrective action.