Implementing a tire maintenance program will generate dividends quickly. "Maintaining proper air pressure will help eliminate downtime on the road or on the job," Jones states. Unexpected failures are costly when you consider the expense associated with a road call, as well as the potentially higher cost of purchasing a single tire in an emergency situation.
"[Maintaining air pressure] will also take advantage of downtime of the vehicle to change the tires if needed," he adds. "Overall, it will extend tire life and cut down on the money you have to spend on an annual basis to replace tires."
Monitor Pressure Automatically
To help reduce tire costs, some contractors are turning to tire inflation monitoring systems such as the one offered by Doran. It's one of several systems that are beginning to make their way into the construction industry.
Doran's system includes two basic components: a sensor and a dash- or cab-mounted display (receiver). The sensor screws directly onto the end of the valve stem of each tire you want to monitor. When you tighten the sensor, it depresses the valve core enough to allow consistent air flow into the sensor. The display provides access to tire pressures at any point. Drivers simply push a button to check each tire systematically, one at a time.
"Normally, it becomes a passive system as they're driving down the road," Nau says. "There are no flashing lights, nothing to distract them."
If there's a drop in pressure that goes 12.5% below the baseline (optimum tire pressure), drivers will receive an initial three-phase warning that includes a beeping sound, a flashing LED and a digital readout of the actual pressure in the tire that is potentially low. "The driver will know what tire is causing the alarm and what the tire pressure is so they know how to react," Nau points out.
If immediate attention is not needed, they can put it into a remind mode or silence mode. If they do nothing and the tire pressure drops below 25%, the same warning will occur at a much faster rate to signify a more urgent situation. "The system is designed to allow drivers time to get to a service center or to pull off the road out of traffic," says Nau. "It's essentially an oil gauge for your tires."
Doran's system can monitor up to 34 wheel positions on any given vehicle. It can be installed on both on- and off-road tires that have a standard size valve stem. Larger size tires can be monitored with the use of an adapter.
"The system really excels in dump fleets that are weight sensitive," says Nau. "The lighter they make their vehicles, the more cargo they can carry and the larger the return on investment per load. One way to save weight is to run single tires, which eliminates the weight of almost an entire tire per location over running duals. But then it becomes even more critical to maintain those pressures."
If you run a tire low, the tire will flex more than it should and increase the amount of heat buildup within the tire, which is what typically causes a tire to fail.
"While there is an up-front cost associated with the system, it will pay for itself if you have just one lost tire on the road... that you could have saved if you would have known that tire pressure was going down. That isn't even counting the fuel you can save by not running tires underinflated, or the wear and tear on the tires themselves. There are advantages that reach beyond simply saving a tire."