Delivering value to fleets is the name of the game for retread manufacturers, who are stepping up to the plate to better focus their efforts on helping you lower your total cost of ownership when it comes to tires. They note that as operating expenses and fuel prices continue to climb, tires represent an area where fleets can improve their bottom line and lower cost-per-mile. According to the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), the cost of a retreaded tire is generally 30% to 50% less than the cost of a new tire, depending on fleet size and maintenance costs.

According to Bandag, however, many fleets are leaving up to 30% of their tire investment on the scrap heap. In the past ten years, the ratio of retreads to new tires in truck fleets has gone from 1-1/2 retreads for every new tire to just one retread for every tire.

Cutting the lifecycle of a tire casing to increase vehicle reliability and uptime is a false economy, Bandag points out. Improved retreads can enable fleets to run their tires between six and eight years, rather than just three or four. In addition, improved technology designed to support retreaders is helping fleets maximize their tire assets.

In studies of the tire replacement habits of two large fleets, Bandag went to their scrap piles and pulled off many usable casings, which were then retreaded, put back into service and followed for two years without a single failure. One of the keys to success, according to Bandag, is keeping good information about your tires and how they are running. That includes making sure proper air pressures are maintained.

The direction at Goodyear, which manufactures tread rubber for both new and retreaded tires, has been on cradle-to-grave support for fleets to help them manage total costs. Retreading, the company explains, is an integral part of reaching that objective since it is tied so closely to new tire technology.

Goodyear is also focusing on increased use of information technology on-line, so fleets can better understand how their products are performing. It's not about selling tread rubber, the company emphasizes, but delivering differential value. Goodyear says it is doing that through a combination of better products with new compounds and designs for longer life, and meeting fleet needs for better information technology.

Michelin Retread Technologies (MRT) has also been focusing on doing a better job of meeting fleet needs. In fact, the manufacturer just released what it calls the first “self-regenerating” tread — the XDA Hypersipe retread — which uses Michelin-patented tread design and siping technology to mold tread features on the bottom as well as the top of a pre-cure tread band. As the tire wears, the company explains, sipes molded into the bottom of the tread appear, giving improved worn traction over the life of the retread. The result is more miles per retread as well as improved fuel economy.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. notes it has expanded the choice of tread designs available for retread tires, especially for niche and application-specific markets, including the XS-D for severe service; ULP Rib & Drive, ultra low-profile single-wide tread for superior wear and traction; and DPW (Drive Position Waste) for on- and off-road applications.

The company also says that computer-controlled, automated retread and curing equipment have become more common in the retread business. In addition, Cooper reports, automated facilities are more common, making retreading easier and more uniform. Oliver's Fleet Trax product, for example, provides in-depth service analysis and can be a helpful to retreaders. The bottom line is better products for fleet users.

Marangoni Tread N.A. says the development of shear graphic casing inspection has been a big advancement to the industry in terms of making retreads more reliable. The Italian-based company introduced the Marangoni Ringtread retread process to North America in 1998 and says the technology has been very well accepted here in the states over the last four to five years.

A contoured, one-piece design is what differentiates Marangoni Ringtread retreads from conventional pre-cure designs, the company explains. The contour of the Ringtread is designed to match the natural curvature of a casing, and because there are no splices, the tread fits the tire without any distortion, which also eliminates any heavy or light spots and improves mileage, wear, fuel economy and overall performance, the manufacturer reports.