LOUISVILLE, Ky.-The cost of stamps may be going up, but the use of retreaded tires is saving the U.S. Postal Service a bundle of money-and that makes William E. Messitt, a vehicle maintenance analyst with the service, very happy. ``We're cutting tire costs while increasing the number of vehicles we're using,'' he told TIRE BUSINESS at the American Retreaders' Association's annual tire conference. ``That's telling me we're getting more for our buck, saving money, using fewer natural resources and putting fewer scrap tires into the environment.''
Mr. Messitt drafted the order requiring the Postal Service to buy retreads. He provided figures to back up his claim:
In 1992, the service had 179,000 vehicles; that number increased to 187,500 last year. At the same time, the number of new tires used fell from 215,000 in 1992 to 193,000 last year, while the number of retreads grew from 50,000 to 63,000. In 1992 retreads accounted for 19 percent of the total number of tires the service used; that share jumped to 32.6 percent in 1993.
Of the $12.6 million the service spent on tires in 1992, retreads represented 24 percent, according to Mr. Messitt. Last year it spent $12.2 million on tires, with retreads representing 29 percent of that total.
Michelin redesigns short-haul tires
Michelin Americas Truck Tires has redesigned its XZA steer and XM+S4 drive tires for ``enhanced traction, handling, mileage, even wear and retreadability,'' the company said April 22 during a press conference at the ARA show.
The new designs, created specifically for trucks operating regularly on regional hauls of less than 150 miles-typically involving just-in-time deliveries with frequent stops and starts-will immediately begin replacing their counterparts.
Key to the new designs, Michelin officials said, are rectangular beads that provide better shoulder stability and more even treadwear. The tires, which also have modified tread and shoulders, will provide about 10 percent more mileage but cost 10 percent less than the old versions, a spokesman said.
City accepts ARA challenge
Saying Louisville has been ``very aggressive in environmental matters,'' the city's three-term mayor, Jerry Abramson, told retreaders that his is the first city in the U.S. to ``accept the challenge'' to use retreads on its vehicle fleet.
As part of a pilot project announced in early March, Louisville is using retreaded tires on its garbage trucks, Mayor Abramson said, and plans to expand their use to other types of vehicles by this summer.
At the ARA conference, Mayor Abramson, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, officially launched the program, in which retreaders in more than 1,000 U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 or more will make available to city fleets a set of free retreads for testing and evaluation.
Project sponsors are the mayors' conference, the ARA and the Tread Rubber & Repair Materials Manufacturers' Group.
Bandag missing at show
Conspicuous in its absence from the ARA show floor was Bandag Inc., historically one of the show's largest exhibitors.
For only the second time in recent memory, according to ARA officials, the Muscatine, Iowa-based company chose not to have a display at the show, although it hosted a reception for its dealers at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
A spokesman for Bandag said the company continues to be a strong supporter of the ARA and realizes that many of its dealers make the annual trip to Louisville and that the show provides Bandag with an opportunity to meet those customers.
``However, unlike most of the others exhibiting at ARA, we really haven't anything to sell at the show. Only Bandag franchised dealers can purchase the equipment and products we have displayed in the past.'' Such offerings were displayed at Bandag conferences earlier in the year, the company said.
This year the company opted to meet with its dealers who went to Louisville at an off-site reception, a company statement said. ``Our decision for 1994 should not be taken as a precedent for future years. In 1995, we will make a decision on exhibiting or not exhibiting after weighing all the factors.''
Patch debuts water-based cement
Patch Rubber Co. introduced at the ARA show its ``environmentally friendly'' Water Base EF-10 Spray Retread Cement. The new cement has several advantages over solvent-based materials in that it contains no hazardous or volatile compounds, is non-flammable and offers adhesion equal to or better than solvent-based cements, Patch Rubber said.
The company will market the new cement as part of a complete system that includes special spray equipment, cleaning solution and training in its use.