Feeling deflated?

Tyre maintenance is a team effort between a service provider and a transport operator. Get it right and you can avoid that deflated feeling from mounting tyre-related expenses, as CAITLYN MOONY discovers.

As South Africans have been able to see over the past month and a half, teamwork is a critical part of any game. Working together as a team got the Netherlands and Spain through to the final, whereas poor communication and inefficient teamwork sent France home in the first round.

Group effort is also a vital part of road safety – with one of the key issues being tyre maintenance. Tony Burns, general manager of marketing at Max T Solutions, elaborates, “Tyre maintenance is probably the most critical issue that is most misunderstood.”

According to Burns there are several factors that contribute to proper tyre maintenance, including correct tyre pressures and application, accurate wheel alignment, regular tyre rotation, ideal vehicle loads, good wheel condition and appropriate tyre matching. “The transport operator and service provider need to work together from the outset in order to form a detailed ‘service level agreement’ that covers these points and any other requirements the operator might have,” he tells FOCUS.

Of these factors, possibly the two most important are correct tyre pressure and application. “These factors are the responsibility of the service provider, who needs to gather data such as the load weight, underfoot conditions in which the vehicle operates, and speed, in order to select the correct tyre and pressure for the specific vehicle application,” Burns comments.

However, just as coach Raymond Domenech cannot be held entirely responsible for the dismal performance by his French footballers, the weight of tyre maintenance cannot be put solely on the shoulders of the service provider. Burns explains that it is necessary to have synergy and understanding between the operator and service provider. One of the main tasks of the fleet manager, for example, is to ensure vehicles and tyres are checked and maintained on a regular basis. “Accurate tyre pressure readings can only be done when a vehicle has been idle for a period of time and the tyres have had a chance to cool. It is the job of the fleet manager to co-ordinate this and ensure the vehicles are available for inspection at regular intervals,” he adds.

The workshop manager also has his role to play, and it is his duty to co-ordinate the technical aspects of the vehicles. These include wheel alignment, tyre rotation, damaged wheels and worn parts. These aspects must be communicated to the service provider so that it can in turn play its role.

Naturally the driver cannot be forgotten in Team Tyre Maintenance. “As well as focusing on defensive, lawful driving and avoiding all road hazards, a responsible driver will report any technical or tyre problems he may experience en route to the workshop manager, and ensure that his tyre pressure is regularly maintained,” elaborates Burns.

In the case of professional soccer, good teamwork means making big bucks. In the case of tyre maintenance, good teamwork means saving them. “Tyre life is linked directly to tyre maintenance. The longer the tyre life, the lower the tyre cost,” sums up Burns. Except for fuel and wages, tyres are commonly accepted to be the highest expense for transport operators. The interesting thing is that they are also one of the few areas where expenses can be managed downwards. “If the correct maintenance procedures are followed, as much as 20 to 30% saving can be achieved,” says Burns. “For example, correct tyre pressure and tyre alignment relate directly to lower fuel cost and increased mileage.”

So, in order to keep the wheels rolling, literally, remember not to hog the ball…

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