Data-based Decision-making

Therese Dunphy

July 1, 2009

Information analysis provides clues to equipment usage and optimization.

by Chris Rhoades

equipcrazy0709According to the analysis of equipment use in nearly 1,000 locations and more than 1,500 tires, 36 percent of every tire discarded by aggregate producers in 2008 went unutilized. In other words, multiply the total dollars spent on tires last year in the aggregate industry by 0.36 and you can arrive at the industry-wide potential cost savings available. To make it more personal, what was your tire expenditure last year, and what is your utilization rate?

Even though supply and demand are catching up, tires remain one of the largest expenditures for any operation. Given the economic downturn, companies are seeking every means possible to be competitive by driving costs out of the system. Thankfully, the tire situation throughout the last few years has encouraged best practices to be implemented, and from every indication they will be continued, even if for different reasons.

One of the key best practices in any tire management program is utilization of tire tracking and analysis software. As product manager for Bridgestone’s TreadStat for the last decade, I will share the key ingredients for a successful data-driven program based on experiences working closely with aggregate producers and dealers.

Partnering with an authorized off-road tire dealer is foundational. Dealers are the most important link in the chain because they are on the front lines and are performing tire changes, pressure checks, and fleet surveys. In undertaking a tire tracking initiative using software, every tire change needs to be recorded every time. Having a relationship with a dealer willing to commit the sweat equity and the time in tracking your tires is one of the first steps in reducing your overall operating costs.

Tire tracking does not equal tire management, however. In order to reduce tire costs, you first have to know where they are. In order to know where they are, not only do tires need to be tracked, but, more importantly, they have to be analyzed and the results have to be communicated. Having a dealer sit down and review a regular report showing all of the operation’s in-service tires with recommended actions, as well as discuss the tires that recently were discarded, is integral to finding opportunities to extend tire life. It is also recommended that either bi-annually or annually a different set of reports be run for review to compare improvement over the last year and to set a budget and goals for the next.

Over the years, tire management software has become easier to use and has streamlined the dealer’s job of inputting data. One of the challenges has been how to make the analysis easier. With more than 50 reports to choose from in various combinations with filters, analysis can be daunting. Over time, we have identified a set of reports that should be reviewed on a regular basis, as well as an end-of-year basis. It should also be noted that it takes time to build up enough historical scrap data to fully use the discard reports. If you are just getting started, data from other locations in your organization with similar operating conditions and equipment may be available for comparison until you have sufficient data.

Reports that should be reviewed regularly and can be useful immediately include the following:

·                    Tires in service by vehicle: This provides a snapshot of current running inventory. Ideally, the report should include your last inspection’s pressure readings, total hours on the tires, remaining tread depth and percent, estimated wear-out date based upon the current wear rate, and, most importantly, a place for dealer comments. This is the most important field because this is where recommendations are communicated.

·                    Tires with less than 25 percent of tread remaining: This report can be run by either percent remaining or tread depth remaining. This should show all of the tires by vehicle and position that are coming out of service soon. Rerun this report with 26 to 50 percent to see the next batch of tires due to be replaced. This will aid in hitting those monthly budget numbers.

·                    Inventory reports: To better understand asset status, spare tire inventory, tires out for repair, and retread reports should be kept on hand and updated regularly.

·                    Tire cards for tires discarded in the last month: Review the data for reasons for failure, total utilization, and final cost per hour. Looking at the tire card should show that the tires were inspected regularly and air pressure was maintained.

Reports that should be reviewed annually and will require data to be built over time include the following.

·                    Discard tread utilization: Use this report to determine what percentage of purchased tires are used (on average) when the tires come out of service. The report also should show the associated realized costs and dollars lost to early failure.

·                    Discarded tires damage code analysis: Once you have determined what percentage of tires is being used, it is important to find out why tires are being lost early. You should be able to look at what percentage of tires is worn out, rock cut, or fail due to workmanship and materials. Other metrics to look for include hours achieved per category, all condition hours, and tread depth remaining.

·                    Tires out of service: Take a closer look at any batch of tires and see a tire-by-tire and a batch average of why tires came out of service, the cost per hour, average hours, etc.

·                    Tire damage by vehicle: View out-of-service tires by vehicle to determine if particular vehicles/drivers have issues. Opportunities for further training or vehicle maintenance will become apparent.

At the end of the day, data will abound. The key is to narrow the focus to key management reports that yield actionable information. Having a tire expert in the form of a local service dealer and/or manufacturer’s representative will provide the necessary interpretation to turn the data into reduced costs. Remember that all of the data in the world will not result in lower costs if the information is not communicated and acted upon. Before the data can be analyzed, it must exist. Happy tracking!

Chris Rhoades is the TreadStat product manager. He has been with Bridgestone Americas Off Road for 10 years and oversees development, support, training, and implementation.

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