Are you an enterprising fleet technician looking to get the most out of your equipment and maximize life for value on your vehicles? If so, you need every trick in the book you can get your hands on.
The fact is each aspect of vehicle maintenance is governed by multiple components. Today, we will look at one such component: Tire inflation. Sure, it may seem like a small thing, but inflation is very important, for several reasons, not the least of which being truck driver safety. There’s a lot riding on your tires. You want to make sure they are properly inflated.
Inflation in Mind
Keeping tires properly inflated is more than just a good maintenance practice, it helps equipment last longer and perform better. Are you using a tire inflation system on your trailer? If not, you should be. The benefit to you is longer tire life.
You want to take care to avoid both over- and underinflation. Over-inflated tires are harder than properly inflates tires. This makes them more vulnerable to tread surface cutting, punctures or other various types of impact breaks.
Over-inflation also dramatically changes the tire’s footprint, which can negatively impact tire traction and result in irregular wear patterns. Generally, the probable cause of excessive wear on a tire is over-inflation. You can expect an accelerated tread wear cost of 7 to 15 percent over the life of the tire.
Some fleets are opting for inflation transducers that monitor a tire’s inflation level and report it to the truck driver.
Flats happen, it’s just a fact when you are driving thousands of miles over the nation’s poorly maintained roads, highways and bridges. Utilizing a tire inflation monitoring system allows you to keep tabs on specific tire inflation alert levels. A ‘cautionary’ reading could mean the tire is slightly under-inflated, while a ‘critical’ reading means the tire could be considered legally flat if caught by an inspector.
Using a tire inflation monitoring system also helps to reduce your fleet’s labor costs. When you know exactly what is going on with your tires in real time, it avoids costly time spent in the shop with your fleet technician.
Some systems even go so far as to replenish air when the tire needs it. Others offer patented air sealing systems. But while many focus on the truck, what about the trailer?
For many trucking companies, trailers coming out of the yard is a problem when their tires have lost air. To get around this fleets move to a system where the trailer is connected to electrical lines once it is backed in. A sensor monitors the tire inflation level and keeps it at optimum. When the trailer is removed, it can head straight to the road without any need to stop by the shop for a tire inflation check.
Although in some cases there is some up-front installation required, the initial time spent on these systems is outweighed by the long-term benefits of using them.
Still, that doesn’t mean there are no maintenance costs at all. In some tire inflation systems, the O-rings may need to be replaced on the valve stems. This is where the system connects to the tire. Any part of the system that mechanically attaches to the vehicle is subject to wear or replacement.
As a capable fleet technician, you want to make sure you are harnessing everything in your arsenal to increase the life and operational efficiency of the vehicles in your stable. As such, if you aren’t considering advanced systems like tire inflation monitoring and control devices, you may be missing out on a crucial tool.