February 27, 2017 11:45 PM, EST

Michelin Expands Tire Maintenance Program

MichelinJoseph Terry/Transport Topics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Upgrades to its tire maintenance program and adding RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification Technology, to its truck tires and retreads represent a continued expansion of Michelin Americas Truck Tires’ products and services and are intended to put its emergency road service “out of business,” an executive with the company said.

The company said 95% of the tires it produces now come with an RFID sensor that will allow fleets to digitally monitor the tire assets in their fleets throughout their life, Adam Murphy, vice president of marketing for Michelin Americas Truck Tires, told Transport Topics Feb. 27 during the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Nashville.

At the TMC meeting in 2015, the company first announced the Michelin Tire Care service, a tire maintenance program that is offered to fleet customers, digitally enabled by a tire check device, Murphy said.

According to the company’s Feb. 27 announcement on the latest upgrades, in the past year, 20% of vehicles inspected in the Michelin Tire Care program made up a “red tag” event, or critical issues that require immediate attention to avoid a CSA violation, for example, while 63% of vehicles inspected reported a “yellow tag” event, an issue that results in additional long-term costs.

Michelin said it’s introducing upgrades to enhance Tire Care for all types of fleets. These include, among others: improved hardware and software, actionable fleet dashboard and “red tag resolution."

The latest program upgrade “essentially is designed to put our Michelin On Call emergency road service offer out of business by helping fleets to proactively catch potential tire-related issues before the truck goes out on the road and have to an endure an expensive and time-consuming emergency road service call,” Murphy said.

The company launched On Call in 2010 and grew it from 10,000 emergency road service events per year to now 300,000 such events per year, Murphy said.

On Call, he said, will remain viable for the “forseeable future,” but Michelin wants to help fleets reduce the number of emergency road service events they experience through Tire Care, Murphy said, adding Tire Care is “a comprehensive program that is digitally enabled.”

It allows fleets to prevent potential issues before they happen and to “optimize their tire life, optimize their fuel economy and collect valuable data to which they can perform analytics and help to make even smarter decisions about how to best manage tires within their fleet,” Murphy said.

As to the costs for fleets, historically, fleets have paid $15 per inspection, he said, but noted the company also is now offering a flat hourly rate.

“You can imagine if you’re a very large fleet with thousands of tractors and thousands of trailers and you’re paying on a per-inspection basis, from an administration standpoint, that can become quite complicated and frankly, it adds unnecessary overhead,” Murphy said, adding Michelin is now providing simpler billing.

According to its announcement, in addition to a flat per-inspection fee, the new hourly pricing options provide a tire maintenance program rolled into one set hourly rate. 

On Feb. 1, Michelin North America announced price increases in North America of up to 8% for heavy-duty truck tires and others it sells, adding it would roll out the exact increases separately. It is the first price increase since 2012.

“From our standpoint, we have not raised prices really over the last five years,” Murphy said, and noted that adding the upgrades and RFID, for example, add costs. “All of those things come at a cost,” he said. “So we feel like the relatively minor price increases that ourselves and most other tire manufacturers have announced are much more than compensated by the additional value that we have been able to bring with some of these offers over the past few years.”