Using retreaded tires on
class 7 and 8 truck fleets not only saves money, but also allows the fleet to
promote its environmental awareness.
In addition to costing as
little as one-third of the price of a new tire, retreads consist of up to 85%
recycled materials (the worn casing itself), one of the highest recycled
percentages among all products on the market. Because of the lower cost, and
the heavy use of recycled materials, all government fleets are now required to
use retreads. Details can be found in Federal Executive Order 13149. A copy can
be downloaded at www.retread.org (Federal Executive Orders on Retreads).
Whether yours is a public
sector or a private fleet, if you are not now using retreaded tires here are
some simple guidelines that can help you select a quality retreader. First, do
some basic reviewing of the retread industry and get the facts.
The TRIB web site,
www.retread.org is an excellent source of good information about tire
retreading and tire repairing.
Next, visit the prospective
vendor’s factory before making a decision. Retreading is essentially a
manufacturing operation, starting with the worn casing (the body of the tire),
which is prepared and then retreaded.
Marvin Bozarth, an
internationally recognized retread expert, who in his career has been a truck
driver, a fleet manager and a tire retreader, said, "I tell fleet managers to
not buy anyone’s product until after they have visited the plant.” There are a
number of different retreading techniques that are used, all of which can provide
satisfactory results when employed by a top quality retreader.
According to Bozarth, the
differences among these techniques are far less significant than how well any
given supplier follows the recommended procedures for the systems he is using. "People
ask me all the time which system (mold-cure or pre-cure) is best. All will do a
good job and provide a good quality product, if done properly. The retread will
only be as good as the care and quality of material used to make it.” Bozarth
When visiting the vendor's
factory, look for a clean, well-organized shop. Pay particular attention to the
casing inspection area. This is where incoming casings are checked to be sure
each is structurally sound and can be retreaded. Ask to see the non-destructive
testing equipment being used. This enables the retreader to determine whether
the casing has structural damage. A good casing, with no structural damage, can
usually be retreaded two or three times.
Ask for a list of customers
the retreader is currently serving. Try to get names of fleets that have
operations roughly similar to your fleet size and type of trucks, miles driven
annually per truck, same operating area, etc. If the retreader can’t give you
several references, he probably doesn’t have any customers that he knows he is
doing a good job for.” said Bozarth.
In the retreading business,
you are buying more than just tires, you are also buying service. Ask how
quickly the retreader can turn around tires, what his warranty is, what type of
pick-up and delivery service he provides.
"For some fleets, they need
tires back within two or three days, other fleets don’t have a problem with a 7
to 10 day turnaround,” Bozarth continued. "The retreader has to be able to meet
the fleet manager’s service needs for the relationship to work. Use the
retreader for more than a tire supplier, consider him a consultant to the fleet
and use him.”
"A good retreader knows what
is working for other fleets and what isn't working. He can advise the fleet
manager about changing tire specifications, application specific tread designs,
tire maintenance procedures and even driver training to increase tire
life," said Bozarth. "I wouldn't deal with a retreader who couldn't or
wouldn't provide this information service to the fleet manager.”
Limit the initial purchase
contract to three months. After this initial period, negotiate the price and
service contract on an annual basis. The three-month trial period is long
enough to determine if the retreader can meet the fleet's needs, without the
fleet making a long-term commitment to a supplier that might not be acceptable.
Once the retreader has shown
his capability to service the fleet, an annual review should be enough to
assure that the fleet is getting the best price and services.
If there is any major change
in fleet operations that can affect tire wear, make sure the existing retreader
can meet future needs. If not, find a new retreader. It is a mistake to think
that what works today is going to work forever." said Bozarth. "The
retreader has to be able to meet the changing needs of the fleet.”