Kevin Rohlwing

Safer tire-service tactics
OSHA data conclude that lifting accidents caused the most fatalities in the truck tire/ vehicle service/ maintenance fields from 2010-2014. The industry has done a good job of educating technicians on the importance of proper vehicle lifting procedures, but more needs to be done.
Preventing irregular treadwear 1
Smooth, even treadwear is a thing of beauty. It also indicates that the maintenance department is doing an effective job, and the drivers are fulfilling their duty to perform pre- and post-trip inspections.
Handling the heat 

Gator season is here and nothing brings out the twisted shards of rubber and steel like the summer months. While the southern half of the continent must take precautions on a year-round basis, northerners get a little bit of a break until the sun starts getting higher in the sky. Radial truck tires are engineered to operate for hours at equilibrium temperature, where they emit as much heat as they generate.

Ruling gives China an edge 

The recent announcement from the International Trade Commission (ITC) that truck and bus tires from China do not injure the U.S. truck tire manufacturing industry and that there will be no anti-dumping and countervailing duties for the foreseeable future comes as a surprise. Just a few months ago, the Dept. of Commerce  calculated countervailing duties that ranged from 38.61% to 65.46% while anti-dumping margins ranged from 9% to 22.57%.

From the International Trade Commission (ITC) decision:   

The first RFID domino 

Technology typically evolves at a rate that society can accept. In some cases, great ideas are ahead of their time so they fail at inception only to see the same basic concepts reborn years later with great success. There are no formulas that predict when or if new technology will succeed. A small number of companies are willing to accept the risks that come with innovation, while the majority are more comfortable with letting their competitors overcome the growing pains before jumping in.

Chaos strikes again

It’s been years since tire manufacturers have raised prices, so the recent announcements of 7-8% increases across the board caught most people by surprise. As usual, the justification was linked to an increase in the cost of raw materials and other factors like transportation. I’ve used the Chaos Theory several times to explain why natural rubber (NR) production is the key to understanding tire prices, and it appears that the butterfly has flapped its wings in Thailand to set off the tornado in North America.

Closing the education gap 

It’s been a while since I taught a class on truck tire and wheel service to fleet technicians. Most of my time is spent in the office or in meetings, so getting out in the field to teach is a welcome break from the normal grind.

Last summer, I met an executive with a state trucking association at a training program for nonprofits. Being the only two people in the room who represented “blue collar” industries, we naturally hit it off—and it eventually led to a pilot training program for members of the association.

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