Guest Editorial: Tag-Along Tires

In the midst of another hot summer, fleet managers can expect even greater wear and tear on a truck’s tires.

Ryder manages a fleet of more than 165,000 vehicles. That means at any given time, the company has approximately 1.25 million tire positions on the ground. To deliver superior tire performance necessary to keep customer vehicles running and to maximize fuel efficiency, Ryder employs a Total Tire Management program. The program focuses on maintaining proper tire inflation and determining the appropriate tire for a particular application.

  • Check trailer tires proactively and more frequently than your normal schedule maintenance intervals. Fleet managers should also place emphasis on tire inspections prior to months of high ambient temperatures and/or high fleet usage.
  • Match tire by size, tread depth, and tread design. Proper matching can help optimize rolling resistance.
  • Get aligned. If wheels on a trailer are not aligned, the drag on a vehicle increases.
  • Ensure you have the right tires for your business. For example, fuel-efficient, tires and retreads are available but are not necessarily appropriate for every application.
  • Tap into technology. Trailer tire inflation systems are proving useful in helping to reduce on-road trailer tire failures. These systems maintain inflation pressure, indicate when there is an issue, and will even keep a tire with a small “injury” inflated until the vehicle can get to a maintenance facility.

Proper tire maintenance is an important success strategy for fleet managers challenged with meeting customer demands and driving bottom-line results.

In a recent analysis of breakdown data, Ryder found that close to 24 percent of breakdown calls were tire-related, and 45 percent of those calls were about trailer tires. Trailer tires also play a particularly significant role in a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. According to Bridgestone, approximately 52 percent of any possible gain in fuel efficiency comes from the trailer wheel positions, compared to a 37 percent contribution for drive tire positions and 17 percent for steer tire positions.

Ryder has implemented a targeted maintenance program geared specifically to trailer tires. The program requires Ryder’s maintenance organization to perform an extensive review of trailer tire inflation and tire conditions on all of Ryder’s 46,000 trailers. After the program’s first year, Ryder reduced trailer tire road calls by 18 percent. In addition, Ryder checks tire inflation and condition every time a vehicle enters one of our shop facilities for any reason, and even arranges inspections at customer locations if necessary.

Here are some key tips to help improve fuel efficiency and reduce tire-related breakdowns.

  • Correct air pressure. Use the recommended inflation pressure provided by the tire manufacturer, and check tires when they are cool.
  • Engage drivers in the process. Have drivers check for visual defects such as punctures, cuts, tears or irregular wear before starting their work each day.

Tyrone M. (Ty) Cross is Vice President of Maintenance of Ryder System, Inc., a Fortune 500 global transportation and supply chain management solutions company. In this position, he is responsible for the overall strategy of the company’s maintenance operations consisting of more than 6,000 employees in over 800 locations, servicing more than 160,000 vehicles per year.