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Getting the most from tire suppliers

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Editor-At-Large

Fleet managers know all too well that tires are often one of their biggest expenses. Working with a trusted tire dealer can help fleets manage costs by obtaining quality products and services that are readily available—sometimes over several years (depending on the application)—and helping fleets choose the right tires and services for their specific needs. We asked five of the top truck tire manufacturers to tell us what types of products and services they and their dealers offer—and where the value is for their customers.

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Bridgestone Americas

Matt Loos, Bridgestone Americas’ director of truck tire marketing, says that since tire management varies from fleet to fleet, Bridgestone recommends that fleet managers establish a benchmark for their tire management program.

“A tire dealer or tire manufacturer’s sales representative can help establish benchmarks and offer insight into best practices that other fleets in similar segments have implemented successfully. Fleet managers should identify the average miles that can be expected on each wheel position and application within the fleet,” says Loos. “Many successful fleets have established metrics ranging from cost-per-driver-hour, or engine-hour, to the standard cost-per-mile. It is popular to factor fuel costs into the equation when fuel prices escalates. Retreads play a major role as a tire program best practice. Quality new tires are made to be retreaded. Given that retreads typically cost a fraction of a new tire and perform as well as or better, it makes sense for the bottom line to incorporate retreads into a tire program.

“When it comes to cradle-to-grave support, Bridgestone offers the Fleet Analyzer 2.0,” he adds. “This is a mobile and Web-based inspection tool to assist with fleet management. The Fleet Analyzer 2.0 software includes in-service and yard-check modules to assess general tire health, forecast tire replacement, and correct immediate problems before they become costly downtime. Greater attention to good tire care practices helps to improve wear-out performance and fuel economy for the fleet, and it can help reduce costly road calls. And, fleets that use retreaded tires do a better job of protecting and caring for tire casings to ensure they can be retreaded. Incorporating retreads into a tire program is also good for the environment and the community, as well.”

CooperCooper Tire & Rubber Co.

“The first step in a tire management program is to conduct a fleet tire inspection survey of a representative amount of tires and equipment,” begins Gary Schroeder, director of commercial vehicle and OEM sales at Cooper Tire. “This survey is a standard industry practice. If the fleet has multiple locations of operation, tire inspection surveys should be conducted at as many of the locations as possible. Once the data collection is complete, fleets can then work with the tire manufacturer evaluating their specific business model, including the number of trucks, number of trailers, average length of haul and travel patterns.

“Based on the size and needs of the fleet, our team is able to work with the fleet manager by wheel position to pick the optimum tire for that individual fleet, taking into consideration tire characteristics such as fuel economy, durability, traction, miles to removal, casing retreadability and price,” continues Schroeder. “The casing quality will tell you a great deal about the tire—how it will hold up and the value the tire has for its second and third life in retreading. When choosing a new tire, part of the consideration should be a review of the tire manufacturer’s warranty and casing allowance.”

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