Where the Rubber Meets Haul Road
Routine tire maintenance can improve performance and reduce operating costs on mobile equipment.
By E. Bradford Pugh
It doesn’t matter what type of equipment you are using, the condition of your tires can make a big difference in how that equipment operates. That is why it is important to make sure that your tires are well maintained and in the best condition possible. Routine maintenance can help optimize tire performance, improve safety, and reduce overall operating costs. Following just a few important steps can help extend the life of your tires.
The pre-shift and post-shift walkaround inspection
Before any shift begins, you should take the time to perform a walkaround inspection of both the vehicle and the tires. As you are making your inspection, there are several things to look for to ensure your tires are in proper working order.
Pre-shift inspections should begin with a thorough visual inspection of the tires, which includes checking for cuts in the sidewall and tread area. Depending on the environment and application in which the equipment is being used, cuts can develop quickly. If cuts have penetrated the tread or sidewall, and ply or belt cords can be seen or felt, the tire should be pulled for additional inspection, repair, or replacement. (Inspection may be necessary even when cuts and cords cannot be seen as there may be internal damage.) Serious cuts in a tire can potentially cause damage to the equipment and pose an increased risk for an accident. Also important to note, cuts should be repaired before water is allowed to migrate into the cords.
Every inspection, regardless of how extensive, should include a check of tire inflation pressure. Under-inflated tires, over time, can increase operational costs due to premature replacements, repairs, and lost productivity.
It is important to inspect the tire tread for abnormal or uneven wear patterns, the front struts for leakage, the toe-in, and general alignment of the tire. The rear struts should be checked for leakage, as well. A leak in the strut could cause a shift in weight, leading to irregular tire wear or an unbalanced load condition.
During inspection, check for rocks lodged in the tread. If rocks are found, it may seem simple to remove them, but it’s important to make sure the rock is removed in a safe manner. The person performing this procedure should stand to the side of the tire for proper and safe removal. The force of removing the rock, if embedded in the casing, can cause the rock to come out of the tire at high velocity, potentially causing injury.
Before the inspection is complete, check the tires for signs of damage, broken or cracked rim and wheel components, missing valve cap, or oil or grease leaks. If any are found, the tire should be pulled for inspection and possible repair or replacement.
Tire record keeping system
For the best performance, and to help get the most out of the life of your tires, it’s not only important to inspect your tires on a regular basis, but also to keep accurate maintenance records of those daily inspections. Inspection records make it easy to identify tire program efficiencies, isolate wear patterns that could potentially create wear issues, forecast tire needs, and provide the data necessary for a tire inventory system that ensures limited interruptions in your operation. A basic maintenance program check list should include:
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