DAVE WILLIAMS HAS several good reasons for monitoring all of the tires on Chaney Enterprises' vehicles. "Tires are always in my top three cost items, right behind labor and fuel. And in the last 20 months, they've risen almost 50 percent," says the fleet maintenance manager for the producer based in Waldorf, Md. "That's why we closely manage our tires."
Chaney Enterprises operates 130 ready-mix trucks, 21 dump trucks, and 30 to 40 pieces of heavy equipment. The producer also operates 13 dry-bulk cement trucks pulled by owner-operators. That represents a large number of tires and a great investment.
To keep costs under control, Williams has developed a tire management system encompassing purchasing, service, maintenance, training, personnel development, and equipment. All costs and activities are measured, recorded, and evaluated.
The producer pays bonuses for achievable results. These range from meeting or exceeding targets for fleet availability, time in shops for repairs or after breakdowns, and preventive maintenance compliance. "If it isn't measured, it isn't managed," says Williams, who is also vice chairman of the NRMCA Operations Committee.
"Most tire services, especially road calls, are done by one primary vendor. They keep our tires in inventory, but we also maintain a backup stock of all our tire sizes and types, mounted on rims, to minimize downtime," he explains. "When every minute may count, it is less costly to waste a load that is too old than remove one that has set in a drum. Sometimes that can involve tearing apart a drum, so time is absolutely critical."
Chaney's tire specialist, John Fenwick, works at the Waldorf shop. When there's a road service call, they generally buy a new tire. Then the truck or trailer is brought to Waldorf and Fenwick changes the new tire for a retreaded one, keeping the new tire as a steer tire replacement.
Retreading versus scrapping
All replaced tires are brought back to Waldorf for inspection. If they are repairable, they will be returned to service or sent for retreading. Before scrapping a tire, two people must sign off on its condition.
"As a rule, the first recap goes on our dump trucks or trailers," William says. "The second goes on mixers. We don't retread more than two times."
The producer buys new tires for the steer axle or when it needs to generate casings. Even with new equipment, steer tires are specified in all positions and all but steers are replaced with recaps. The retreaded tires are provided through the same company that sells new tires and does road service. That vendor does all scheduled work.
The tires Chaney uses do not have an aggressive high-tractor tread. A more moderate tread pattern keeps trucks out of difficult areas. The producer's "concrete delivery professionals" check air pressure daily, use an air gauge at least once a week, and report the reading. All are issued air gauges that can be recalibrated. A master gauge is kept at each location and each gauge is checked regularly.
"Because of the time involved in checking tire pressures, we switched from standard metal valve caps to flow through caps. That cut gauging time from 20 minutes per truck to only three," Williams says.
He also emphasizes the term "delivery professional," noting that their duties extend far beyond just driving. Like shop technicians and other Chaney personnel, they are given about 40 hours of ongoing training each year.
Chaney Enterprises runs top-quality, first-line tires because they are more durable and provide more recapping capability. Currently, they are rethinking their purchases. When their leading supplier had a significant price increase, Williams changed a portion of his tire purchases to another tier-one manufacturer.
He also began to test tires from second-tier suppliers. At any given time, he may have six to eight new tires in testing. He is also evaluating lower initial prices in relation to possibly losing one retreading per tire.
Tires are thoroughly examined for damage, including irregular tread wear every time trucks are in the shop for regular maintenance. Service is generally based on fuel consumption. Ready-mix trucks are due after 1200 gallons, or about 7000 miles or 90 days. Those are limits. Whichever is reached first is when the mixer is scheduled for maintenance. For dump trucks, it's 1600 gallons, 8000 miles, or 90 days. All trucks are serviced at least four times a year.
Chaney's tire maintenance has evolved to become very effective in managing tire costs and, perhaps more critical, maximizing vehicle uptime.