SAN ANTONIO. Controlling truck-tire costs boils down to figuring out how not to spend the big bucks it takes to buy new tires and retreads before replacing those assets is absolutely necessary, according to Al Cohn, director of new market development & engineering support for Pressure Systems International (P.S.I.) , the manufacturer of the Meritor Tire Inflation System by P.S.I.

“The price of tires—which shot up in 2011— has now come down due to the price of natural rubber dropping to 2009 levels,” Cohn said in his keynoter at the fleet seminar held here yesterday by San Antonio-based. P.S.I.

Given the high-dollar value of both new tires and retreads, Cohn said fleets need to ensure their tire-maintenance program is doing all it can to ensure both long tread and casing life.

“Even though tire prices were stable in 2012 and 2013 and are looking very good so far for 2014,” Cohn pointed out, “a fleet spec’ing new tires on all positions on a typical 18-wheeler will currently spend $7,000 to $9,000.

“And if they are putting retreads on drive and trailer axles, the expenditure will still be substantial-- $5,000 to $7,000.”

Given that, Cohn contended that “fleets should want to work jointly with their tire suppliers and dealers to optimize their tire programs to reduce costs.”

Cohn offered these thoughts on “what works as components of a serious tire-management program”:

  • Choose the best make/model of tire for the application—and then perform ongoing evaluation on a representative sample size
  • Target tread-depth removal points to protect the integrity of the tire casing for retreadability
  • Optimize the air-pressure spec for each wheel position based on the worst-case load scenario it will face
  • Rotate steer tires back to drive axles; rotate drives to trailer positions
  • Determine the target for how many retreads per casing should be attained
  • Standardize on how often should tires be inspected for tread depth and wear patterns as well as inflation compliance

“Fleet should also not overlook how key it is to educate both drivers and mechanics about tire-related issues,” Cohn added.

“They are the ‘early-warning system’ that can alert fleet managers of potential issues before they get out of control and become more costly to address."

Cohn noted that, in his view, “one of the biggest mistakes fleets make is to not make tire-related training an ongoing program. Helping fleets out with that,” he added, “is a great opportunity for a tire maker or dealer to provide a value-added service to their customers.”