Tire Management Systems: Your Report Card On Performance

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Unless you want to pick tires for your vehicles based on gut feelings, intuition or data gathered by your peers, a good recordkeeping system to track tire performance and costs in your fleet is vital to making wise tire decisions. And whether your records are on paper or on high-powered tire-specific software – such as Goodyear’s TVTRACK – is up to you.

A good recordkeeping system will store all the data you need to determine the actual costs associated with the tires in your fleet, according to Tim Miller, Goodyear’s commercial tire marketing communications manager. "TMC (Technology and Maintenance Council) has a great Recommended Practice, RP 208, which details all the essential parameters to measure in order to accurately analyze tire related costs," Miller says. "It’s something we highly recommend fleets follow."

While most of the initial costs in a tire-tracking program are obvious — new tires, casings and retreads and repair materials — there are other related costs that must be accounted for. Those include the labor associated with tire management and repairs, tire replacement costs and the cost of downtime associated with tire issues that occur.

"Finally, warranty credits for new tires and retread and repair warrantable conditions must be documented and figured into the overall costs of tire-related expenses," Miller says.

All of these costs make tires, for most fleets, the No. 2 operating expense behind fuel. 

Paper Versus Computer Tracking

Miller says there is nothing wrong with keeping paper records of when tires were installed on a vehicle, when they were removed and associated tire costs. "If you manage a handful of vehicles, paper records might work," he says. "But when you’re managing a fleet and the type of vehicles range from local or regional delivery to long-haul, the complexity of keeping records ‘the old-fashioned way’ becomes next to impossible.

"You should be proficient in spreadsheet analysis that will record all the data and make the calculations you need to determine the total costs and, even more important, the cost per mile of every tire in your fleet," adds Miller.

If developing a complex spreadsheet is not in your skill set, you may wish to invest in software to help your cause. "There are several software packages available, some better than others," says Miller. "Goodyear offers two software products that can aid in the quest for better information – TVTRACK and TireValuCalc, both available at Goodyear dealers or by clicking on "Fleet Management Tools" in the "Shortcuts" section of
www.Goodyear.com/truck." 

Information-Based Decision Making

Good tire-tracking software allows fleet managers to document tire related information (mileage and cost) and calculate cost-per-mile in several ways. "With Goodyear’s TVTRACK program, information is entered for each vehicle, with mileage recorded when new tires (or retreads) are installed," says Miller. "Down the road, costs associated with these tires are also documented — treadwear is measured and entered into the program when tires are 25 percent, 50 percent and 75 percent worn as well as when they have been removed from service."

Although cost-per-mile can be calculated and shown graphically at any time by brand or tire type, it is best to wait until tires are at least 50 percent worn to draw any preliminary conclusions.

"Better yet, wait until a significant number of tires are out-of-service before using the data to help make major purchase decisions," suggests Miller. "This gives you a more accurate picture of what’s happening with your costs."

Once tires are out of service, Miller suggests that data gathering continue through scrap tire analysis. "This type of data can be captured by TVTRACK and summarized results can be shown with various charts and graphs," he says.

"Knowing why tires are removed, and the age and number of retreads you are getting on casings, indicates whether your tires were properly maintained. For example, if tires are wearing out due to scrubbing or curb damage, you may wish to compare different types of tires and use software to document whether you’ve found a better solution."

According to Miller, tire-tracking software is not intended to track every tire on every vehicle in a fleet. "It is intended to be a tool to aid in the tire decision-making process by providing a way to sample performance from a selected group of vehicles within the fleet," he says.

Another software tool offered by Goodyear is TireValuCalc (TVC), which uses data gathered by TVTRACK or other sources to calculate total costs associated with running different tire combinations. "For example, a fleet maintenance manager may want to know whether to run new tires or retreads on drive axles," Miller said. "Or they may want to see how a regional tire design performs compared to a long-haul tire.

"TVC calculates the costs for each scenario, as well as fuel costs. Fuel economy differences among various tire combinations and varying wear rates help determine which tires will deliver the overall lowest cost of operation." 

Predicting Tire Costs Though Information

Keeping good records and possessing data that predicts tire wear can help lower fleet costs. Knowing which tires are most cost effective on a fleet’s trucks can assist future tire purchase decisions.

"What’s more, knowing the wear rates of tires allows you to anticipate peaks and valleys in the replacement tire purchase cycle," says Miller. "This could help with budget planning in the months and years ahead."

Tires And Vehicle Specs

A fleet comprised of various vehicle types – or trucks having different engines – must be considered in tire analysis. For example, a high-torque engine will wear out drive tires faster than engines with a lower torque rating. If you don’t evaluate tires on one type of vehicle or evenly split the test across an equal number of each vehicle type, your results will be meaningless.

Once you have completed a test, you can make intelligent decisions about what tires work best in your fleet. "How would you know this if you don’t have data to back up your theory?" Miller asks. "Tracking software allows you to evaluate tire performance of different sets of vehicles in order to help you make intelligent tire choices based on facts, not gut feelings." 

Putting Data To Work

Tire performance between different company locations or terminals can be tracked in the same way as performance on different fleet vehicles.

"Tracking software allows fleets to pinpoint problem areas or establish best practices based on outstanding performance in one or more locations," says Miller. "Information is power, and once you have data compiled, you can put it to work for you to make intelligent tire decisions.

"Our belief is that a well-run tire program transcends buying quality tires. Tires should be viewed as a system. It’s tread and compounding, the casing, maintenance practices and tracking to determine what works best. When your job is to stay profitable through low cost-per-mile and tires are one of your highest operating costs, it’s imperative to track your numbers. It’s the only way to a solid bottom line." 

Online Only: Recommended Practices Manual

Click here for TMC’s Recommended Practices Manual.

Gregory Van Tighem is a business writer is Seattle. You can reach him at vantighem@siefkespetit.com.

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