Don’t tire of tyres

Don’t tire of tyres

As the second highest variable cost factor in a long-distance trucking operation, truck owners and fleet managers cannot afford to ignore the management and control of the tyres in their fleet, says VIC OLIVER.

With the high spike in fuel costs that South Africa has witnessed over the last few years, many long-distance truck operators have applied their full focus to fuel consumption, but have neglected the management of tyres – to their detriment!

Let’s assume an average price of R6 600 for a tyre (new tyre pricing can be anything from R3 800 to R8 500 dependent on make, model, and application). That means a set of 20 new tyres on a six-axle articulated combination will cost around R132 000. This is a significant expense! So, how does one keep costs under control?

There are many aspects to managing the tyres in a fleet. One of the best ways is to install a system that accurately accounts for all the related costs, which can then be tabled to give the operator a true cost per kilometre (CPK) for each and every tyre in the fleet.

The total CPK is not what the tyre costs to purchase, but the costs from the time of purchase to the time that it is removed and scrapped.

Accurate tyre CPK information will assist operators to effectively manage their tyres in the following ways:

  • Highlighting problem areas and assisting operators to immediately rectify any problem contributing to excess tyre costs
  • Measuring the performance of each depot against others in the group
  • Measuring the company’s performance against industry standards
  • Highlighting driver abuse
  • Highlighting problems related to vehicles and trailers
  • Providing information to assist selection of the correct tyre for a particular operation

One of the basic functions of good tyre management is to ensure that tyre pressures are always correct and that all tyres are fitted with valve caps and valve extensions on the dual wheels.

Drivers often feel that tyre management is not their responsibility. Because it may not be part of their job description, they assume it is someone else’s job –  either an employee from the outsourced tyre management company or their own workshop personnel.

Experience has shown that tyre costs will rise if the driver is not involved in ensuring that tyres are correctly inflated at all times, and tyre care is left to others.

Beware of the poor practice of bleeding tyres after they have been running and warmed up, when the pressure will have increased above their starting pressure. This is normal, as air expands when heated, so lowering the pressure of a warm tyre will result in said tyre being underinflated once it has cooled.

There are other factors that will affect tyre life when selecting the route the vehicle will travel. Some of the factors to consider include:

  • Road conditions: Winding roads with high hedges or other obstructions to vision cause frequent braking, acceleration, and side thrust on the tyres.
  • Steep hilly roads: These tend to increase wear due to the high tractive effort, plus braking and acceleration.
  • Road surface: Wherever possible, avoid roads that are in a poor condition. Often it is better to take a longer route.

Remember: proper management of the tyres in a fleet will reduce variable operating costs and increase the safety of the company’s vehicles on the road… it’s a real win on both fronts.

Published by

Vic Oliver

One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 49 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf, and seven years with International. Vic is now enjoying his well-earned retirement.
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