September October, 2004
 

 

 

 

Tire Data Fuels Savings

Everett Fuel & Lumber Distiributors uses Goodyear tracking system to save dollars

It’s late on a weekday afternoon at the Arlington, Wash. terminal of Everett Fuel & Lumber Distributors and Ron Gentry has his plate full. It’s been another busy day for the general manager of this lumber and woodchip hauler and a lot of people are vying for his attention. Gentry is under constant pressure to keep a lid on operating costs while managing his cash flow and admits he doesn’t have the time to manage equipment maintenance as closely he’d like.

Getting a handle
Until recently, tires were a particular area of concern. His 30 tractors and 70 trailers deliver to a lot of off-road locations where tire hazards, such as rocks and rebar, contribute to early tire failures. Gentry was also having difficulty managing tire purchases. “We weren’t able to predict tire wear and we were getting hit with big tire purchases in a short time span,” he says. “We couldn’t afford to keep doing that. Cash flow is critical for a fleet our size.”

Ron Gentry, left Matt Rain, right

Software solution
In March, 2002, Gentry’s local Goodyear representative Matt Rain began conducting regular surveys on the fleet’s tires and quickly noticed some trends. “The tire pressures were all over the map,” says Rain. “One might be 80 psi and the one next to it was 100 psi. The average pressure was 82 psi when it should have been between 95 and 100 psi. “We also were seeing a lot of mismatched duals and variance in tread depth between different positions.” Rain entered tire data into a handheld Palm computer while he was at the fleet terminal. Back at his office, he downloaded the data into the company’s TVTRACKS software on a PC. Using TVTRACKS, he was able to analyze the trends and provide Gentry with data he could use to reduce his tire costs. “I get the data in easy-to-read graphs and charts so I can quickly identify problem areas with specific trucks and trailers” says Gentry. “For example, our drivers will sometimes intentionally lower tire pressures to improve their ride. That will show up as an exception report.”

Savings
Gentry has also been able to use the tire data to study the impact of changes to tire practices. “The reports were showing a 30 percent difference in wear rates between the front and rear tires of the tractor drive axles,” he says. “We started rotating them when there was a 5/32-inch difference in the tire treads and they now both are worn down to an even 6/32-inch when we remove them. It’s given us more tread life out of the rear position and we’re losing fewer casings due to excessive wear.” After the initial reports on tire pressure variance, Gentry began a concerted effort to keep all tires at recommended pressures. The latest reports indicate the fleet average is now at 95 psi, an improvement of 13 psi from when the surveys started. Rain says that change in itself represents a significant cost savings for the fleet. “Goodyear research has shown that every 1 psi drop in pressure translates into a 1 percent drop in tread mileage.

A 13 psi increase in pressure also lowered rolling resistance and improved the fleet’s fuel mileage.” Asked which part of the TVTRACKS reporting has been most effective in reducing tire costs, Gentry is quick to mention tire purchasing and inventory levels. “We have saved a lot of money by being able to budget for tire purchases,” he says. “Before, I had no data to see when tires would be due for replacement and no way to control it. When a large number of tires all had to be replaced at once, I had no choice but to buy them all immediately at the current price. “Now I can choose when I want to replace them and choose when I buy tires. I can keep my inventory levels down because I know when I’ll need tires.” Having rapid access to concise tire data also saves Gentry in another valuable commodity. “Time is precious when you’re running a small fleet. The less I waste on inefficient tire management, the better,” he concludes.

TW

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This page was last updated on Saturday, November 20, 2004