Kevin Rohlwing

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.

Vital component 

If you ask 50 tire experts to name the most important part of a tubeless radial truck tire assembly, you will probably get a number of different answers. Some will point to different aspects of design or materials in the single-piece rim because that eliminated side and lock rings thereby saving the lives of technicians who serviced the assemblies. Others might focus on the 15-deg. bead taper of the tire or advances related to innerliner technology that resulted in the dominance of tubeless tires in the market.

Tire registration and recalls 

With recent passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, tire manufacturers were successful in their efforts to switch the tire registration system from voluntary to mandatory. Under the current version of 49 CFR Part 574—Tire Identification and Recordkeeping, the seller of a tire(s) is required to provide the purchaser or lessor with the tire identification number(s), or TIN, so the purchaser or lessor can register the tire(s) with the manufacturer.

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