With its sights on lower costs per mile and even wear, Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) launched three new Bridgestone-brand truck tires at its April Bizcon 8 commercial dealer meeting in Chicago.
The tire maker also gave a glimpse into the next generation of its drive and steer tires as well as possible business support products.
BFS unveiled the new R287 steer radial, the M726 EL drive radial and the R195F free-rolling trailer radial.
The R287 for long-distance fleets includes the Side Groove feature to help prevent edge and wavy wear and shoulder tearing. Stress-relief siping along the main ribs combat river wear, and Equalizer Ribs fight the initiation and spread of edge wear, the company said. The tread compound also is designed to be stiffer and fight the severe scrubbing forces of hard braking and cornering. The tire also features a shallower 16/32-inch tread to produce less squirm and irregular wear. The wider tire can be retreaded with a full-size drive recap.
The M726 EL-for ``extra life''-has a deep 32/32-inch tread and is designed to deliver high removal miles, lower cost per mile, good traction and retreadability. The tread compound, designed to improve wear, stability and heat resistance, also produces stiff blocks that resist heel-and-toe wear, BFS said. Large, aggressive blocks also are engineered to bite into soft surfaces for wet traction, which also is aided by block sipes. The tire also takes a full-size drive recap.
Finally, the R195F trailer radial is designed to fight irregular wear and prolong original tread life as well as offer long-distance line haulers lower costs per mile. The tire features the Defense Groove design to create uniform pressure across the shoulder to minimize edge wear and cupping. An Equalizer Rib also combats wavy wear on the main ribs with siping to fight river wear. For wet traction, the tire uses a classic straight-rib design to evacuate water from the footprint, BFS said. The compound also is designed to deliver competitive fuel economy. The casing can be retreaded for any axle position.
The R287 and M726 EL are now available in size 295/75R22.5, with 285/75R24.5, 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 coming in the fourth quarter. The R195F is now available in four sizes: 295/75R22.5, 285/75R24.5, 11R22.5 and 11R24.5.
Looking ahead to possible future tires, BFS showcased seven prototype tires. In the tires, BFS played with different tread depths, Equalizer Ribs and their placement, types of siping and its placement and casing characteristics.
For business support, BFS is working to update its BFDI dealer computer system. The biggest change will be axing the green screen format and including it as a Web-based system in Entirenet. The changes are expected to be rolled out in the third quarter.
BFS also showed dealers a video discussing a possible program that would immediately connect the driver of a broken-down truck with a tire dealer's service truck.
Basically, the trucker would be able to see through a global-positioning-system-enabled Smart Phone what his proximity is to a dealership's service trucks. He can then pick a nearby truck and send a message asking for service. The technician then gets the message, pulls up the driver's contract information on a tablet PC in his truck and heads to the disabled truck. After replacing a flat tire, the driver can sign the tablet PC, and electronic copies will be sent to the fleet manager and tire dealer.
The program is still in the concept phase, officials said.
Darrell Spencer of Kal Tire in Vernon, British Columbia, said the program would be a good selling tool, but many issues would have to be worked out first, including the logistics of the service truck picking up the new tire and how the dealer controls his or her service trucks.
``You want to have the control where you dispatch a guy to,'' Mr. Spencer said.