AKRON — Bandag's "Fleets We Depend On" roadshow visited the Bridgestone Americas Inc. Technical Center in Akron this week during its 27-stop cross-country tour.
The tour, which continues through June, will engage fleets on the advantages of retreading tires while taking on industry misconceptions, according to LaTres Jarrett, director of marketing for Bandag, U.S. and Canada, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.
"The industry is evolving," she said. "Fleets are constantly looking for new ways to improve their business efficiency, continue to be competitive and increase safety for their employees."
Automotive trends like electrification and autonomous vehicles are changing the way fleets look at business, Ms. Jarrett said, and as the market changes, tire makers have to evolve as well, delivering holistic solutions that allow fleets to maximize performance.
Bridgestone's Bandag business unit works together with the parent company to make mobility more efficient for fleets, using intelligent products and new technology to reach those goals, she said. One step in that process is changing the way that they talk about tires.
"Collectively, we're categorizing tire casings as sustainable assets, something that is designed to be used over and over and over again," Ms. Jarrett said. "That's the way we look at it. Tires are much more than black and round air-filled rubber. They are valuable resources for fleets, no matter how big or small the operation."
Properly managing tire casings with retreads can boost reliability and performance, and save both time and money, she said. Larger fleets are already seeing returns on using retread programs, but smaller and medium companies could see an opportunity to get value out of incorporating them.
While retreads can help with performance, they also have an effect on environmental sustainability as well. Ms. Jarrett said retreading a tire uses 15 gallons less oil than is used in producing a new tire.
"When you consider the nine retread dealers we have here in the Northeast Ohio market, that's nearly a million gallons of oil saved just here in the Akron/Cleveland area," Ms. Jarrett said.
The Fleets We Depend On roadshow spotlights fleets that communities rely on, including firefighters, school buses and parcel delivery, she said. The roadshow's goal is to demonstrate how groups like regional haulers and delivery fleets can use a comprehensive tire program to build efficiency, as well as to honor those fleets doing everyday work.
As part of the program, Bandag is sponsoring a new industry award to recognize those fleets doing work to support the community, she said. The Fleets We Depend On award will go to a nominee working in one of those industries, who will receive $5,000, with another $5,000 going to a chosen charity.
Nominees can be submitted at www.fleetswedependon.com, to be judged by a panel choosing finalists, and the winner will be named in September.
"It's designed to spotlight the dependable, everyday heroes that keep this country moving," Ms. Jarrett said. "We can all nominate people who we know who are fleet drivers, whether it's our garbage collector, and we see the hard work he's doing and we want to acknowledge that."
The roadshow itself includes side-by-side views of new and retreaded tires for comparison, as well as a twice-retreaded Bridgestone tire that has run 1 million miles, she said.
One of the biggest myths she's had to combat is that the rubber shards sometimes seen on the side of the road are retread debris. She points to new third-party studies that show there's an equal chance that those roadside "gators" come from new tires as from retreads.
In either case, the studies show that in a majority of the cases, the damage comes not from being a retread failure but from poor tire maintenance, such as running low on air pressure.
The roadshow also includes Fleets We Depend On campaign videos, and a trivia game testing knowledge of the retreading process. There's also a wall of interactive videos walking through the 10-step process in detail, led by an industry veteran, she said.
At the stops where a retread dealer is located, facility tours will be available. At the Bridgestone Americas Technical Center, attendees toured the facility to see how Bridgestone works with Bandag on retreads.
More information about upcoming roadshow event stops is available at www.bandagroadshow.com.