Master gauge checking station
Truck tire service gauges should be checked daily or at least weekly at a master gauge checking station. You can build one yourself or purchase them assembled from a tire supply distributor.
This is not a big expense, nor does it take a lot of time to check service gauges. However, checking their accuracy on a regular basis will ensure the quality of the service work technicians perform remains high.
Set the regulator to a convenient pressure (probably 100 psi for most shops). Pressure should always be increased from a lower setting to the final setting for consistent results. Technicians simply apply their gauges to the valve stem adapter. When gauges are found to be off by 5 psi or more, they should either be recalibrated or replaced.
Tire changing machines
High volume tire shops that mount and demount 45 tires or more a shift should be equipped with tire-changing machines.
Otherwise technicians fatigue, shortcuts tend to be taken and beads get damaged. If you are looking to make your shop more productive, they are the way to go.
However, these machines do require periodic maintenance. Filters need to be changed and moving parts wear out and must be replaced. But this maintenance is well worth the eliminated wear and tear on your technicians.
To mount and demount tires properly, this area should have non-skid floor mats to work on to prevent wheel damage. Tire/wheel lubricant and a lube brush, swab or properly labeled spray bottle to apply lube to tires and rims/wheels, a valve core removal tool, valve stem torque tool and a piece of wire to check for obstructions in the valve stem should also be located here and readily accessible by technicians.
Wheels must be inspected carefully once tires are removed from them to check for damage and cracks. To do this properly a wire brush or abrasive tool to remove corrosion, dirt, and foreign material from wheels is required.
A framing square is needed to check for flat mounting surfaces and shrunken bead seats in addition to a 0.03-inch feeler gauge. A rim flange wear gauge, bolt hole chamfer wear gauge, a valve hole gauge and a paint thickness gauge (3.5 mil) are also tools required to ensure the highest standards of quality is attained when inspecting wheels for out-of-service conditions.
Bead seater tools
A good bead-seater tool dramatically improves productivity and safety along with helping to ensure the beads are properly seated on the rim. Checking for circumferential bead seating on each tire/wheel assembly ensures the tire is properly mounted, will run true and prevent some types of irregular wear.
Safety cages should be installed close to the tire-changing machine or mount/demount area so technicians can roll recently mounted tire/wheel assemblies to them with a minimal number of steps. The cage area should enable them to be placed a foot away from a wall on one side.
If you have more than one cage you can position them next to each other. It's a good idea to build a half wall a foot away from the cages on the other side. This keeps people out of the trajectory and acts as a barrier that protects them in case of a zipper rupture.
Do not bolt cages to the floor. If you do, the bolts and pieces of cement floor become shrapnel during a rapid air loss event, also known as a tire blowout.
Also, each safety cage should have its own regulator and water separator as well as an air shut-off valve. If using one regulator to inflate multiple tires at the same time, tire inflation time increases dramatically.
The main shut-off valve should be located near the door so that it is easily accessible for technicians to turn off on their way out of the shop if a tire indicates it's getting ready to rupture.
Keep in mind that regulators and clip-on air chucks are friends of efficiency. They enable technicians to work on other things while tires are being inflated properly to the correct pressure. Don't forget to check regulators periodically for accuracy if they are in constant use.
This area should have a valve core installation tool, valve core torque tool, and sealing metal valve caps handy but they should not be placed on top of the safety cages in case of a tire rupture.
Stationary tire meter
Dual tires on a vehicle should always be matched within 1/4-inch diameter and1/2-inch across the axle. If you have control of a fleet's tire inventory and provide mounting/demounting services, measuring tire diameter can be made quick and easy and saves the technician time when he or she installs a tire on a vehicle.
Simply mount a stationary tire meter on the wall in your tire shop to quickly measure the overall diameter of tires that have just been inflated. Mark the diameters on the treads so that they are visible when the tires are placed in tire racks. The technician installing a tire on a vehicle can then use tire calipers or dual tire maters to measure the diameter or radius of tires on the vehicle and can then quickly select and install the appropriate replacement from the tire inventory.
In high volume shops that have a lot of fleet customers that request tire balancing with wheel weights, a tire-balancing machine makes economic sense, saves technicians' time and provides accurate results.
However, internal balancers offer the ability to adjust to tires' changing out-of-balance conditions as they run, and more fleets are opting for this type of balancing solution. If your shop provides tire-balancing service, this area of the shop requires a wheel balancer or balance machine, wheel weights and installation tool, or internal balancing material and installation equipment to install it, or balancing rings. Your commercial customers will determine what you require.
The tire shop should have a dedicated area for repairing punctures in tires that can be done in the shop rather than in a repair/retread facility. This practice will decrease your turnaround time for tires in a mounted-tire program.
It should include repair procedure charts from your tire repair manufacturer, a tire spreader for casing inspection and work, sufficient lighting to see inside and outside of the tire, a work bench and cabinet for tool and supply storage, and a vacuum to clean out any debris or rubber dust inside the tire.
Power tools needed include a carbide cutter tool, low-speed (1,200 rpm or less) drill and a low-speed tire buffer (5,000 rpm or less) and buffing wheel. An awl/probe, rubber scraper, crayon/paint stick, brass brush, pliers, side cutters, and a ball bearing stitcher are also needed to perform the highest quality of tire repair.
The best way to improve productivity in this area is to have a well-trained and experienced tire repair person.
Storage of shop tools
Tire shop tools such as air grinders, drills and other small hand tools should be stored in a cabinet or designated place in the tire shop when not in use.
Some shops use a bulletin board on which the profiles of the tools are painted and technicians can see easily where each tool is to be placed when not in use. This organization makes them easy to find when needed as well as safe from damage.
Tire supply inventory
One of the biggest causes of lost productivity is running out of tire supplies, such as valve stems, cores and caps, repair tools and supplies and bead lubricant.
Every tire shop should have a cabinet where smaller supplies are stored. Each item should have an open, individual box with a short description (part number) of the item on it. That way inventory levels can be ascertained at a quick glance and reordered before stock is depleted.
Larger items, such as bead lubricant, should be kept indoors to prevent freezing and stored in a convenient area of the tire shop in full view, so that when lube supply gets low, it gets noticed before it runs out.
If any liquids are flammable, they should be kept in a yellow flammable storage cabinet. Repair materials should be stored in an air conditioned area that is hopefully close to the tire shop.
Many of these things you are probably already doing now to make your tire shops more productive and efficient. There is nothing here that is revolutionary.
However, as Robert Heinlein, an American science-fiction author, aeronautical engineer and naval officer, once said: "Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something."
Whether you agree with J.R.D. Tata or Robert Heinlein, we can all improve our quality and performance and make it more efficient and productive.
Keep working hard at finding easier ways to service truck and bus tires in your tire shop.
Keep extra tire supplies in the shop and store them properly.