Consider that 20 years ago we were using tires that today wouldn’t come close to making the grade. The stark evolution in trucking has been nothing short of amazing.
In the 90s, tread designs had stagnated. There were basically two designs – rib or block. Today, tread designs are far more complex and sophisticated. You can even order them tailor-made for whatever application or wheel position your work requires.
Tread geometry has also changed dramatically in the past 20 years. The available size and weight variation among tire types have also become more specific and developed. Blading, as one example, has evolved to a point where traction is the focus not just when the tire is new, but throughout its life.
New manufacturing processes have allowed rapid advancement in siping and low rolling resistance design. Casings are far more retreadable and the savings across a tire’s lifecycle have expanded beyond where they were even in recent years.
One of the biggest improvements comes in the area of rubber compounding. Rubber chemistry has become so advanced that OEMs can now blend compounds together to create near-perfectly optimized tire designs.
“Dual Energy” is another term used to describe certain compounds that provide superior removal mileage. The bottom layers allow standard tread to run cool, which minimizes the external casing temperatures. All of this adds up to longer casing life. So what’s next?
Ask anyone in the long-haul sector and they will tell you fuel efficiency is the number one agenda item. Often times the measure of a low rolling resistance tire’s value is taken in how well the tire optimizes fuel savings.
Since both the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay tire system and OEMs both use a rolling resistance index to measure tire performance, standards can be judged across the board (even though those numbers are not made publicly available).
So what can you, as an intrepid fleet manager, do to ensure you’re using the right tires for the job? Perhaps you should begin by evaluating what’s on the market.
The Value of Retreads
Retreads provide affordable and dependable performance over their lifetime. You can expect a smooth and continuous shoulder to ensure uniform wear across the surface. Advanced compounds also contribute to long life and wear.
Circumferential grooves and diagonal tread blocks help to evacuate water and promote traction on either wet or dry surfaces. So when you are looking for a healthy mixture of performance and technology, give retreads a look.
The “hybrid” tire market remains squarely aimed at long-haul and regional operations. These tires are designed with five-rib patterns and effectively equalize pressure across the tire’s footprint. Some models even come with specialized bumpers to prevent the trapping of rocks and stones.
In order to address the inherent conflict between fuel efficiency and removal mileage, casings are now engineered to exacting specifications. New designs minimize heat build-up and rolling resistance without sacrificing fuel economy.
As fuel economy becomes the main focus, advances tire designs are increasingly finding their way into the market. New designs include a more robust, wider shoulder rib design specifically designed to minimize curb impact resistance.
Other models provide a stiffer tread and deliver on higher mileage without sacrificing on their low rolling resistance quotient. Biting sipes also help with snow traction. After all, the more edges you that are in contact with the road, the more traction you have.
Look for other advanced applications, from optimized blade geometry to precise siping sequences designed to enhance grip in wet conditions. Deeper tread depths also deliver on better fuel efficiency.
No matter the application, new tire designs are effectively meeting the challenge of improved performance and enhanced fuel efficiency. No matter what your need, always look for a proper measure of durability that doesn’t impact performance.