This blog was provided exclusively to CCJ by Joe Puff, vice president of truck technology and maintenance, NationaLease.
Commercial tire casings can have a significant value, and not just because of the cost of purchasing or selling used casings. Understanding casing life and limitations can greatly affect tire costs, emergency failures, and ultimately customer satisfaction.
There are many schools of thought regarding the best value tire for the money. The key is to understand all the factors and make an educated decision. In a previous article, Proper tread selection is a balancing act, we covered some major factors that should be considered in selecting tires.
In recent years, commercial low profile 22.5 tier one virgin casings have ranged in price from $25 to $90 per casing. On the other hand, some tier three casings may not be worth anything. In fact, you may have pay to scrap them.
That said, you may wonder how it is casings can be considered so valuable. Let’s looks at an example. Assume the market value of a tire casing is $50 and it costs $10 to scrap. But the equation is not just the $50 casing value plus the $10 scrap fee. It’s also the fact that each time the casing is re-used it creates another opportunity to reduce the need to purchase a new tire. In essence, you save the cost difference between a new tire and a retread, and you reduce the scrap tire cost, which is better for the environment.
In recent years there have been a number of technology enhancements to help us evaluate casing quality, from shearography, to advanced X-ray, to electronic liner inspection technologies. These technologies are a great tool that take a snapshot of casing quality at a given time.
The best course of action to ensure casing quality is a proactive maintenance program. Things like running the correct air pressure for the load carried, alignment, tire mating, reasonable pull points, and quality repairs all play a role in casing integrity. In addition, how quickly a problem is repaired is important to casing life. One of the biggest opportunities to slow casing degradation is to maintain proper tire air pressure, which can greatly affect the heat generated in the tire.
I’ve had the greatest casing success with casings that we know were properly maintained throughout its life — usually ones we controlled. Fleets that don’t generate enough casings may need to purchase some from a third party. If this is the case, try to find out where and what application they are coming from. Purchasing casings from high scrub, high impact, off road, liquid bulk, and other tough applications can have a negative impact on the casings life.
Casing quality and value should also play a role in your new tire purchasing decisions. Specifically, consider the casing warranty of the new tire. Casing warranties can vary by a number of years and limited number of retreads. Some are seven years and unlimited retreads.
If used casings aren’t closely managed or a good failure analysis program is not in place, warranty dollars may be slipping away. The best course of action is to have a person on your staff who is responsible for tires, casings, and failure analysis management.
Looking to the future, there are some exciting new technologies on the horizon that will help you manage tires and casings throughout the tire’s full life, from new tires to multiple retreads. For example, Michelin just announced it is installing RFID chips in tires. Just think what could be accomplished if engineers and fleet managers were able to not only determine the effects of air pressure and tread depth, but also know every tire’s revolutions, heat rate, loads carried, etc.
Managing an efficient fleet maintenance program takes a lot of knowledge and expertise and needs someone dedicated to it in order to ensure you get the most out of your tires. If you don’t have the resources to effectively manage your tires, consider enlisting the aid of a third party service provider like NationaLease to ensure you get the most out of your tire investment.