Basic tire maintenance and monitoring is easy, and these maintenance tips will ensure that tires operate at optimum levels throughout any season.
1 – Air pressure maintenance
All tires should be kept at the pressure specified by the tire and vehicle manufacturers for optimal performance. A radial earthmover tire that is either over- or under-inflated is vulnerable to potential downtime. The correct tire pressure for a radial tire will vary widely depending on the machine type, manufacturer model type and weight. It is a good idea to consult the tire manufacturer to ensure that each axle is properly weighed and the correct pressure is set. The manufacturer can also answer questions and provide additional tire advice based on the jobsite’s specific terrain.
Any vehicle with properly inflated radial tires carries its load in a noticeably different way. Radial tire technology separates the work done by the sidewall and tread areas, allowing the tire to conform to the terrain by running at lower air pressures than bias tires. The lower air pressure yields a more even footprint and higher levels of traction. The consistent footprint ensures that the lugs strike the contact patch simultaneously, reducing vehicle vibration. If the radial tire is over-inflated, many of its advantages are lost.
Tire pressure should be checked on a daily basis, or at least weekly. This will reduce the risk of running the tires without the proper air pressure, which can lead to decreased tire life. Tire pressures should be measured and managed by trained maintenance staff. Pressure check results should always be recorded for later comparative analysis to determine if, and which, tires are slowly leaking air. Once a leaking tire is identified, it can be examined and the problem addressed.
Using new O-rings and checking all wheel components when mounting a new tire will ensure a proper seal and reduce the risk of pressure loss. It is important to inspect the condition of the wheels on a regular basis to detect any damage that could lead to a loss in pressure.
2 – Driver awareness
Operators see problems that need to be fixed, whether during pre-trip inspection or while operating the equipment. Managers and supervisors should ask their operators for maintenance input, cultivating a team approach to tire and vehicle maintenance. Operators should be made aware of concerns with their equipment or tires before they conduct inspections or operate the equipment.
It is crucial that operators report any fluid spillage, whether from their vehicles or others.
3 – Tire and rim inspection
All operators should do a thorough walk-around inspection of their vehicle before operation. They should look for cuts, holes, cracks or any other damage to tires or wheels. The regular inspection of a rim and tire helps to detect issues in a timely manner. Tire problems should be dealt with before they become major maintenance problems or render the tire beyond the point of serviceability.
During tire and wheel checks all rim hardware should be examined for any signs of cracks or flange damage. It is also important to check the valve hardware for signs of damage or wear.
4 – Haul road maintenance
Maintaining the site’s haul roads can help prevent tire punctures and other damages. Site planners and haul road maintenance personnel should pay attention to road surface conditions, super elevations, curve radii and speed in curves.
Haul roads should be designed with the tread compound of the tires in mind. Certain compounds are better suited to short hauls as opposed to longer hauls. If used in the wrong application, tires can be damaged beyond serviceability.
Hauling on steep grades will cause the load to shift toward the front or rear of the vehicle. If hauling downhill while laden, pay special attention to the pressures of the front tires and set them according to the operating conditions. This compensation should be done only after consulting with the tire manufacturer representative. It is best to avoid grades higher than eight percent to reduce load transfer effects. When designing haul roads, it is important to use the appropriate curve radii, so turns are not too tight. Build a crown into the roads at approximately three percent to help with water run-off. Standing water can hide rocks and other debris that could damage tires.
5 – Vehicle maintenance
Brakes, struts, rock knockers and alignment should all be inspected and maintained properly to avoid adverse effect on a vehicle’s tires. Correct alignment helps to prevent uneven wear on steer axle tires.
Matching the diameter of earthmover tires on the wheels is essential in order to maximize tire life as well as minimize abnormal wear on drive shaft, differential and final drive mechanical components. Mechanical drives will rotate at constant revolutions (rpm). If tires of various diameters are introduced to a vehicle, the tires will attempt to travel at a different distance for a constant rpm. Since they are secured to the rigid vehicle frame and forced to travel the same distance, the tires will slip resulting in abnormal tire wear and excessive stress to the powertrain.
6 – Load management
When a load is not centered, it can put too much weight on one corner of the truck, causing an overload on that corner’s tires. Overloading tires will lead to shorter tire life or more downtime. Even if properly centered, every load should stay within total gross vehicle weight compliance. Michelin also suggests conducting weight studies regularly.
7 – Support equipment
Support equipment should be used on a site to keep haul roads clear of rocks or other debris that could damage tires. A motor grader or rubber-tired dozer should be used on a regular basis, not just for the haul roads, but also for the loading and unloading areas to clean up any material spillage.
8 – Scrap tire analysis
Inspecting scrap tires as they come out of service can help prevent future tire loss and indicate the need for tire or vehicle repairs – or adjustments in vehicle operation.
Analyze the history of scrap tires and determine the type of tire damage, the vehicles on which the tires were operating, as well as the area of the site. Also key to the evaluation are load distribution, weight transfers or misalignment. These areas, discussed previously, can lead to tires prematurely coming out of service. If the problem is accurately diagnosed, new practices can be implemented to correct the issue.
9 – Tire committee
Establishing a tire performance improvement committee will force discussion on how tire assets are used and maintained. The committee should be composed of personnel from different areas of responsibility including maintenance, operations, production and operators.
10 – Communicating/reporting Generate clear and specific policies and reports of all the initiatives and progress made in any meetings. Policies or reports should be shared with all applicable staff so that they can be aware of the areas of improvement or change, as well as be able to provide input for future changes or additions to tire or other maintenance policies