Trucking is a sprawling industry, touching on everything from manufacturing to construction and agriculture. As such, there will be times when a tractor – specifically those used in construction, logging and other off-road applications – will be put into a situation where tire damage can occur.
So what’s an enterprising fleet manager to do about it? You need to know you’re spec’ing the right tires for the job.
Ask the Right Questions
When you are preparing to make tire purchasing decisions, make sure you are asking yourself the right questions.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Does resistance or toughness matter more?
- Does the application result in chips and tears?
- Do you need on- or off-road traction?
- How much time will the truck spend off-road?
- How severe is the terrain the truck will be operating in?
- How important is fuel economy compared to terrain-related tire failure risk?
Take, for example a fleet that transports aggregate, logs or cement. If the truck has to transport the commodity from a facility that is more than 100 miles away, the truck will spend at least a fraction of the time on rough ground. This means the truck will need some type of traction or cut resistance.
Still, the truck will be spending most of its time on the highway traveling at highway speeds. So, in this case, fuel economy may be more important. In this application, a fleet manager may choose to go with a lug-type tire that offers a measure of traction and durability without sacrificing fuel economy.
Depending on Application
In other capacities, you may find that trucks operating in certain vocational applications, whether they be concrete mixers or dump trucks, will be subject to a varying level of stress. Operating in cities increases the chance of running up against a curb or large rock, whether in the city or on the job site.
Trucks used in vocational applications will likely also spend less time on the highway operating at highway speeds, meaning fuel economy wouldn’t be the largest concern. Instead, the ability to resist damage and premature wear would be the primary focus.
Some tire manufacturers refer to this balance as the performance triangle. The three points represent vocation, application and wheel position weighed against toughness, wear and fuel efficiency.
How well the tire performs in one aspect is directly related to the other aspects of the tire. If a tire is weighted more towards low-rolling resistance, then other aspects of its performance may be reduced. As manufacturers continually try to refine their methods, accentuating one side of the performance triangle over another will have a measurable impact, whether for better or for worse.
Deciding the Exposure Level
When you are selecting the right tire for the job, you need to consider the amount of time it spends operating in a particular road application. Once you have isolated the conditions, you can choose a tire with a right balance of performance qualities.
Choosing the right tire for the job shouldn’t be a roll of the dice. The last thing any fleet manager wants is truck tires failing left and right across the fleet. Whether you are looking at it from the angle of retreads or otherwise, always consider time and duration to certain exposure elements, whether it be gravel, dirt roads, ice or snow.
Remember, a casing is a terrible thing to waste. You’ve spent good money on the tires that keep your trucks ruling the road. Make careful considerations before going on a willy-nilly tire spending spree. A proper tire maintenance program, which includes the right casings for the application, when combined with regular maintenance, will keep your fleet rolling smoothly no matter where your tractors go.