Selecting A Quality Retreader
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 added.
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.”