LOUISVILLE, Ky.-Delivery of nearly 3 billion packages each year depends, in large part, on the retread industry's standards and quality of service, Kevin Sondrup, corporate automotive engineering manager for United Parcel Service told attendees at the recent ARA World Tire Conference & Exposition. And those standards need improvement, he said.
The conference's keynote speaker said UPS, the nation's largest package delivery company, needs retreaders to create industrywide standards and produce higher-quality workmanship in order for everyone to prosper in a ``business partnership.''
About 64 percent of the tires UPS vehicles ride on are retreaded, Mr. Sondrup said. Some of those tires are retreaded as many as eight times before a casing is scrapped.
During his speech Mr. Sondrup, who is responsible for the company's more than 120,000 cars, vans, tractors and trailers, pulled few punches in telling his audience what UPS would like to see changed throughout the retread industry.
``I want to use this platform to tell you candidly about real service situations we face every day at UPS,'' said Mr. Sondrup, detailing the results of a UPS scrap tire analysis that uncovered patterns of retread failures he said the industry must correct.
In one such example, UPS district service managers were unable to file warranty claims because some retreads were delivered without U.S. Department of Transportation identification labels.
Without the labels, he said, UPS also could not track the tires through its computerized Automotive Information System, designed to record the $1 billion worth of maintenance the company performs each year.
Some scrapped retreads in the analysis contained rubber not specified in UPS guidelines. Different compounds created mismatched tread designs that reduced the life of some tires, Mr. Sondrup said.
Other scrapped retreads, he contended, should not have been delivered because they were on damaged or dirty casings that failed quickly.
Mr. Sondrup said failed retreads are catastrophic for UPS, which relies on making ``just-in-time'' deliveries to companies across the globe-some of which lose as much as $100,000 for each minute a delivery is late.
``We as a service provider cannot afford that type of delay or the next time the customer might choose one of our competitors instead,'' he said.
``When you consider the size of the UPS fleet, you can see how much impact these problems have on our daily operation and, by extension, on our ability to service our customers' needs.''
Mr. Sondrup offered a number of suggestions to alleviate some of those problems in retread shops, including:
The formation of industry guidelines for inspecting sidewall strength;
Simplifying casing and retread sizing programs on low-profile tires to determine the width of the tread to be installed;
Periodically updating industry standard training material for inspections;
Creating a better system of tracking tire life and age; and
Introducing industrywide failure analysis standards that would provide up-to-date information on retread designs and casing combinations that offer the best value to the customer.
Consistent standards and retread quality will ensure that both UPS and its suppliers continue to prosper in their business partnership, Mr. Sondrup said.