Truck fleets are hurting themselves financially by throwing away retreadable casings too soon and not taking advantage of all the services that tire dealers and retreaders have to offer, according to Bandag Inc. Chairman and CEO Martin Carver.
``Many of the long-haul fleets have put a four- to five-year age limit on casings,'' Mr. Carver said April 20 at the Tire Industry Association World Tire Expo. ``They are actually throwing away casing assets that might well have another life in a local or vocational application.''
The ratio of retreads to new tires in the trucking industry is now about 1 to 1, compared with 1.5 to 1 when Mr. Carver first started in the retreading business, he said. Part of this is because of a concerted effort to get rid of old, badly aged casings-an effort in which Bandag took a leading role, he said. ``Those 11- to 13-year-old casings had to go away to reduce downtime,'' he said.
But with the coming of shearography and other reliable casing inspection techniques, no truck fleet should throw away casings that are four or five years old, according to Mr. Carver.
``We can identify casing defects and sift out the bad casings without throwing money on the trash heap by using an arbitrary casing age limitation,'' he said. ``At Bandag we are looking at ways to help our dealers match casings that can pass a stringent casing inspection and serve a useful life in an appropriate application.''
The benefits for truck fleets of increasing their ratio of retreads to new tires are not only economic but environmental, he said, because of the natural resources saved in retreading a usable casing vs. making a new tire.
Tires are critical to the success of every fleet, and fleet operators ignore tires at their peril, according to Mr. Carver. Fifty percent of all unscheduled vehicle downtime for truck fleets is caused by tire-related issues, he noted.
``For fleets that don't have good tire maintenance and tire management programs in place, tire-related downtime can literally destroy a fleet's service reputation in this day of just-in-time deliveries,'' he said. ``Your ability to help them improve their uptime with tire management programs based on sound data collection can make you a critical partner in their success.''
An optimum tire management program, he said, includes not only high-quality new tires and retreads, but also value-added services and programs to ensure their effective, efficient and consistent maintenance.
Over the past couple of decades technological advances have radically changed the face of the retread industry, according to Mr. Carver.
``Fifteen or 20 years ago, for many of you, your best opportunity for retaining a good customer was to keep him out of your facility,'' he said. ``Now everybody offers daily scheduled and unscheduled tours of their plants. We are wowing the customers with how much technology goes into building a retread.''
While all retreaders must do a better job of countering the negative perceptions that persist about their product, there is a dramatic difference today in how truck owner/operators regard retreads, Mr. Carver noted. He particularly thanked Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), and his associate director, Dave Kolman, for helping to bring about that change.
Bandag believes so much in TRIB that the company not only is increasing its financial contribution to the organization, he said, but also is offering to pay one-third of its dealers' membership dues.
Mr. Carver was ebullient about the future of the U.S. economy in general and the retread industry in particular. There are very few Bandag dealers who have not reported double-digit growth in the past year, he said.
For commercial tire dealers who really pay attention to what their customers want and need, rather than just trying to sell them a product, the future is bright indeed, he added.
``The combination of quality new tires and a quality retread with the right mix can optimize a fleet's tire budget,'' Mr. Carver said. ``When you focus on what will make a customer successful, you have a long-term customer.''