Digital Wave Sweeps Over Tire Management

Brian Cunningham speaks to the panel. (Transport Topics)

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Launching a digital tire management program in your fleet based on real-time information and predictive maintenance analytics is a good idea now because, for one thing, your competitors are likely to have one already and are benefiting from the results.

The digital tools and software at the heart of the program help technicians and management analyze what is happening with tires, which are fleets’ third-highest operational cost at 3 to 5 cents per mile.

Also, federal statistics show, tire issues are among the leading factors in large trucks’ fatal crashes.

That was the assessment of industry experts who spoke Oct. 27 during American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition during the session titled “Digital Best Practices for Tire Life.”

Managing tires digitally has swept through large fleets and now medium and small fleets are following suit, said Brian Cunningham, vice president of fleet solutions for Bridgestone Commercial Solutions, a division of Bridgestone Americas Inc.

“We are moving at warp speed,” he said, adding that the titles of his co-panelists “weren’t even around 18 months ago. Adoption is increasing everyday.”

The key is getting the information — that can, for instance, reduce road service calls, or check air pressure electronically — to the right people at the right time so they can make better decisions and drive down costs as the digital system does the work, Cunningham said.

“If your competition moves into a digital space and has a leg up on you, and you choose not to, are you going to be on a level playing field?” said Micah Tindor, connect fleet product manager for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. “There is a risk that you will be noncompetitive if you don’t have enough data coming in to make accurate decisions.”

As fleets consider shifting to digital tire management, they should begin by identifying what areas of their tire management program are the strongest and which are in most need of improvement, said Shaun Hartoog, Dana Inc. digital solutions specialist in advanced customer consulting.


Hartoog (Transport Topics)

“Is the current program consistent across every day, every inspection and at every location? Does it measure your progress, or hold your team accountable if they are not managing tires correctly?” he asked.

A proactive digital tire management program can accomplish that.

“The key is patience and diligence to train technicians on the use of the digital tool,” Hartoog said.

Another key to reaching benchmarks with a new digital tire management program is communication, said Donna Murphy, Michelin North America Inc. initiative lead for connected pressure, services and solutions business line.

She said several questions need to be asked and answered as the digital program rolls out.

  • Does everyone know the benefits of digital tire management to the organization and to themselves?
  • What operations have to change, and what behaviors have to change in terms of who plays what role?
  • What is the “go live” date?
  • How will the engagement of employees be assessed, and how will success be measured?

“Change is a really hard process,” Murphy said. “There’s so many things involved.”

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