With inflation rising and supply chains tightening, fleet cost control is more important than ever. If you want to save money, you need to look at where you’re spending, and for fleet managers, tires are usually the third largest overall expense. With the right fleet tire management software, you can get the data you need to stay ahead of maintenance and under budget. And more importantly, it helps you do that while ensuring the safety of your technicians, drivers, and everyone else on the road.
What is tire tracking?
Just to quickly get this out of the way, tire tracking is not the same as wheel tracking, which is from when you had to align the two front wheels because the back two were on a fixed axle.
Instead, tire tracking is how a fleet manager collects and leverages the data they need to get the most from their various investments in tires. It’s how you save money by getting the most out of your tires, but never more than you safely can.
What are the benefits of tire tracking?
With a modern tire tracking software solution, fleet managers can accurately collect critical tire data, helping them:
- Control inventory with real time numbers and locations, down to axle positions
- Optimize scheduled rotations and replacements with accurate mileage tracking
- Maximize tire life by better planning preventive maintenance and repairs
- Minimize future cost by discovering which brands perform best for the fleet
- Ensure compliance with regulations to avoid fines and costly accidents
How does it all work? One way to understand the benefits of tire tracking is to think about life without it.
Without a good sense of what you have in inventory, it’s harder to know if you’re covered for both routine and unplanned replacements. And if you don’t know what you have, there’s no way for you to know where it is and how long it’s been there, making it much harder to stay on top of rotations and replacements.
From there, you also have problems making data-driven decisions about which tires to buy next. Without a clear understanding of past performance, you can’t properly plan for future success.
A robust digital tire tracking program helps you cut costs and reduce headaches by getting you out ahead of tire maintenance and repairs. Once you know what tires you have, where they are, and how long they’ve been there, you can efficiently schedule all your maintenance, including rotations, replacements, and retreads.
Take tire inflation as just one example of where better tracking would help you find and fix issues before they have a chance to eat into your bottom line. In an article for Fleet Maintenance, Helmut Keller, head of brand management for commercial vehicle tires at Continental, says, “A constant 20 percent underinflation in a commercial vehicle tire increases tread wear by 25 percent and reduces the tire lifetime by 30 percent.”
But it takes more than just maintenance. You have to make sure you’re starting off with the right tires for the job, says Evan Perrow, senior product marketing manager at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, in the same article. “Different trucks and operating conditions require different tires. Equipping trucks with the wrong tires can lead to sub-optimal performance”
Tire tracking helps here, too. Once you have your own reliable data on tire performance, it makes it a lot easier for you to decide whether you want to buy more of the same brand or look at other options. Instead of having to put all your faith in what the tire manufacturer is telling you, you have your own numbers to back up your decisions.
When you can accurately track tires, you can stay compliant with government regulations and industry best practices, saving you money and heartache. And the risks are real. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bad tires cause 11,000 accidents every year.
What are the features for tire tracking?
Tire tracking is a collection of specific features, including tracking for mileage, inventory, cost, axle schema and scheduling for preventive maintenance. There’s a lot to track when it comes to tires, so you need more than one feature to do it.
Tracking mileage helps in many ways, from scheduling preventive maintenance inspections and tasks to helping you decide when to rotate or replace tires.
Taking control of tire inventory means knowing what you have ready to go on the shelves plus what’s already on every vehicle in the fleet. Now you can ensure you have spares when you need them, but not too long before. The last thing you want is to waste money carrying tires in inventory if you don’t need to. Having too much inventory means money from your budget is tied up in tires that you have to pay to store and worry about losing to age, mishandling, or theft.
The best tires are the perfect balance of performance and price, and cost tracking is how you find them. By tracking the costs of tires and how well they work with your specific fleet, you can put your tire dollars where you’re going to see the best return on your investment.
You might have one fleet, but that doesn’t mean you have one type of vehicle. There could be everything from small trucks for getting around a facility to large oil tanker trucks for hauling across the state, so you need the flexibility of being able to work with different axle schemas.
Ideally, you should be able to custom build different schemas inside the software, so you have a digital match for every vehicle in your fleet.
Once you have your mileage, you can set up the software to automatically generate preventive maintenance inspections and tasks (PMs), including everything from quickly checking air pressure to rotating and rebalancing the tires.
Preventive maintenance, even the simplest inspections and tasks, can save you a lot of money. But even more importantly, they can save a life.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of proper inflation. According to Michelin, low pressure leads to:
- Higher risk of puncture
- Higher risk of aquaplaning
- Longer braking distances
- Altered road handling in corners
Tire pressure isn’t the only thing you should be checking, but it’s a perfect example of why a PM program is so important.
In the constant drive to cut costs, fleet managers can leverage tire tracking to better control inventory, schedule rotations and replacements, maximize tire life, and minimize future costs with data-backed decision-making on brands and types of tires.
Tire tracking is a collection of features, including mileage tracking, inventory tracking, cost tracking, axel schemas, and preventive maintenance inspections and tasks.
Mileage tracking lets you know how far your tires have traveled so you know when to rotate or replace them. With inventory tracking, you always have the spares you need, when you need them, but without dealing with the costs and headaches of carrying a lot of inventory.
Cost tracking helps you keep an eye on prices and performance, so you can make sure to invest in the right brands and types. With axel schemas, you can track tires on many different types of vehicles in your fleet, from sedans to oil tankers.
Preventive maintenance features help keep you ahead of inspections and tasks, so you find and fix small issues before they become big problems. For example, a quick adjustment of tire pressure prevents everything from uneven wear to damaged rims.