Four a greater cost per kilometer
Numbers often have mystical meanings in folklore and religion, pointing to something divine or superstitious. However, the number four will have real benefits for truck operators, with Michelin’s “4 Life Package” able to save them a fortune! JACO DE KLERK explains.
Just imagine buying a tyre that can be reincarnated thrice. With Michelin’s “4 Life Package” you don’t have to visualise a thing – you can experience it, all three times, yourself.
This is made possible by regrooving the Michelin tyre once its first life has run out; retreading using Recamic rubber when its second life is up; and retreading again for life number three. “This increases the tyre’s mileage by more than 280 percent and results in a lower cost per kilometre,” says Robert Raadgever, field engineer at the Michelin Tyre Company South Africa’s Truck and Bus Division.
THE BEGINNING – PROVIDING FOR THE FUTURE
Michelin designs its tyres with a thick enough undertread to allow for high-quality regrooving without affecting the strength or toughness of the casing, which in turn also allows for safe retreading – achieving these multiple lives.
TAKE TWO – GETTING BACK INTO THE GROOVE
Raadgever explains that regrooving is the process of removing some rubber from the existing undertread, and regenerating a tread pattern of six to eight millimetre, or a depth approximately equal to that of a half-worn tyre. “This restores both the longitudinal grooves, which aids water dispensing, and the transverse grooves, which provide traction – prolonging the tyre’s life service by about 25 percent,” he says.
However, as Raadgever points out, the key advantage of regrooving a Michelin truck tyre is that fuel savings of four to six percent can be achieved. He explains that the regrooving process is carried out when a tyre has less rolling resistance (fewer deformities in the tread pattern) and therefore generates less heat and lowers fuel consumption.
“In once such instance, a fuel saving of two litres per 100 km was achieved by regrooving the tyres of a truck tractor and semi-trailer combination used for long-distance hauling,” says Raadgever, adding that actual performance depends on the number of axles equipped with regrooved tyres.
STEPS THREE AND FOUR – TREADING ON UPWARDS
The third and fourth life of a Michelin tyre is made possible through Recamic, the company’s retreading division, which uses the latest tyre technology to ensure that its retreads provide the same benefits as a new tyre – with the retreads delivering around 80 percent of an original tyre’s mileage. Raadgever says this high mileage is achievable because the compound and tread design of the Recamic rubber is identical to that of a new Michelin tyre.
He adds that Michelin’s truck tyre retreading technologies and processes have impacted positively on the transport market, with customers expressing delight at the lower cost per kilometre (CPK) and the quality of retreads.
One such customer is Balan Moodley, tyre manager at KwaZulu-Natal-based Baker’s Transport: “We needed to bring down our running costs and become more cost-effective,” he says. “Of all the retreading technologies available to transport operators in South Africa, Michelin’s tyres result in a greatly reduced cost per kilometre compared to their competitors.”
“Recamic provides the market with a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to new tyres, with an emphasis on quality, safety and reliability,” says Raadgever. With truck tyres on the list of most expensive items for transport operators, such features are appreciated.
PAINTING A PICTURE OF WHAT THE 4 LIFE PACKAGE CAN SAVE
Michelin has sketched the following scenarios to illustrate the impact a complete life cycle programme such as its 4 Life Package can have on the total CPK of a fleet.
• Scenario 1 – buying a new tyre: A new tyre that costs R16 000 and lasts 100 000 km, has a cost per 1 000 km of R160.
• Scenario 2 – buying a new tyre, then regrooving and retreading it: If the same new tyre is then regrooved at a cost of
R457 and retreaded at a cost of R3 500, the total cost goes up to R19 975 – but the tyre will now last an estimated 195 000 km, so its total cost per 1 000 km drops to R102. That’s a saving of 36 percent.
• Scenario 3 – buying a new tyre, regrooving it, then retreading it twice: If the tyre is retreaded twice, the total cost goes up R23 457 for an estimated 255 000 km, taking the total cost per 1 000 km down to R92; a saving of 42 percent.
“Our operations consist of long-haulage with an average payload of 32 tonnes,” says African Transport Solutions director Jaco Conradie. “Tyre costs contribute to a large percentage of our overall expenses, and it’s therefore imperative that we choose both the correct tyres and the best tyre maintenance option to ensure that we obtain the lowest possible cost per kilometre.”
When introduced to the 4 Life Package, African Transport Solutions decided to put its claims to the test, fitting a new Michelin XDN2G to one of is trucks.
The results were as follows:
• The new Michelin did 323 220 km on the vehicle’s drive axles;
• The regrooved tyre did 75 050 km on the trailer axles;
• The first retread, a Recamic XDE2 fitted to the drive axles, reached 269 937 km; and
• The second Recamic XTA retread completed 296 524 km.
That’s a total of 964 731 km – for a single tyre. “The results truly surprised us,” says Conradie. “The regrooved tyres completed 23 percent of the new tread’s life, with the Recamic treads each reaching more than 80 percent of the original tyre’s mileage.”
According to Safika Oosthuizen Transport’s Tercius Naude, the company has reduced its CPK considerably using the Recamic brand, and has thus reduced its overall running costs too.
The company operates one of South Africa’s largest coal hauling fleets, with more than 350 vehicles transporting thousands of tonnes of “black gold” to power stations on a daily basis. The company also runs its own tyre business as it has to service its trucks on a regular basis, and has aligned with Recamic.
Naude points out that Recamic also delivers environmental benefits since every discarded tyre has an adverse effect on the environment, and each new tyre manufactured requires more rubber than retreading.
“Every retread produced means one less new tyre and, more importantly, extends the life of the original product,” says Alexandre Hennion, marketing manager of Michelin Tyre South Africa. “This reduces the impact on precious resources such as oil.”
Michelin has a team of technical representatives as well as a technical service van to assist its customers with advice on tyre pressure, the correct application of Michelin tread patterns and assessments of the product.
Michelin’s representatives also identify ways to improve the CPK of a fleet – by looking at pressure maintenance, mechanical wear, worn suspension components and misalignments, then generating reports and providing feedback to the fleet owner.
So not only does “four” seem to be the magic number for truck operators, but with Michelin’s assistance one can gain even more out of the company’s 4 Life Package – demonstrating that tyres needn’t wear the mood of any fleet manager.