Driving with an Air of Confidence

Software takes the guesswork out of tire maintenance.

Tires are typically among the highest maintenance cost items for any trucking fleet, but, despite the negative effect unchecked tire costs can have on the bottom line, very few trucking fleets have any control over their costs per mile. Tracking all the variables that affect tire costs can be overwhelming.

That had been the case at Dot Foods, Mount Sterling, IL, which 10 years ago was having a hard time trying to track tire purchasing, spec'ing and maintenance on the fleet of 507 trucks it uses to haul refrigerated, frozen, dry and bulk items from seven locations.

Before long, the company traded in its paper--and--pen system for the TVTRACK software system from The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Akron, OH, and according to shop supervisor Duane Fischer, the decision was a good one.

Fischer works at Dot Foods' Williams­port, MD location, where 67 trucks are maintained. He says TVTRACK software has helped with budgeting and provided the information needed to make better--informed tire--related decisions.

"We use it to track operating costs and wear by individual tire," he says. "It's used to plan our tire retreading and replacement schedules and to compare tire makes and models in terms of durability and fuel economy. What we've learned from TVTRACK over the years has led us to make some changes to our tire specs. Also, most of our drivers are assigned to a specific truck so we can see who is getting the most out of their tires when it comes to tread wear and fuel economy."

Fischer adds that TVTRACK is simple to use. His technicians input data on tire wear when the trucks come in for alignments every 60,000 miles and for tire rotations every 100,000 miles.

Regular sampling of tires on specific vehicles provides the raw data. Handheld computers capture the data, which is transferred to a desktop computer loaded with TVTRACK.

"On--screen menus give you all the information you need," says Fischer. "You simply click on each tire position on the truck chassis diagram that's shown on the screen. It's very simple to use."

Data Is Essential

Priority Transportation, Farmington, NY, is another trucking company that uses Goodyear software to track its tires. The company, which hauls food products from five locations to grocery warehouses all over the United States and Canada, uses the GTRACS automated tire tracking system on all tires in its fleet of 330 trucks. GTRACS applies a barcode to every tire coming in for repair or retread, allowing the fleet to track the service and performance records of each tire.

The software is invaluable for Priority. "Probably 99 percent of our loads are time--sensitive," says Marty Wirth, Pri­ority's service manager. "If a customer runs out of a product and we’re broken down, it's a big deal."

Al Cohn, marketing manager for commercial tires at Goodyear, says, "It doesn't matter what type of operation you run; the value of the data is there. The more you use it, the greater the savings."

"Once you have a regular data stream, you can use the data many different ways," he says. "You can analyze every tire position, calculating total cost per mile using the current tread and predicted miles to removal. It also allows you to measure the impact of variables such as engine power, axle configuration and loads on tire life. You can compare one tire combination with a different one to understand which makes the most sense for the application."

"Good data on specific tire applications is like gold," he concludes. "It can be leveraged in many different ways to help a fleet save money on tires."