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Tyre maintenance ignorance proves costly for fleets, says ARI Fleet UK

Poor driver care and maintenance is responsible for the premature replacement of a quarter of tyres on vehicles managed by ARI Fleet UK thereby unnecessarily increasing fleet operating costs.

ARI in the UK last year replaced a total of 33,861 tyres on vehicles under its management. Although more than 20,000 tyres (59.47%) were replaced as a result of ‘normal wear and tear’ and more than 5,200 (15.64%) were replaced due to unrepairable punctures, a total of 8,429 tyres (24.89%) were replaced due to ‘damage’.

Richard Minshull, Head of Operations, ARI Fleet UK, said: “Tyre care is a vital part in prolonging tyre wear and getting maximum value from a set of tyres – and that is very much down to drivers.

“If uneven tyre wear is spotted early, then steps can be taken to ‘pull’ the tyre back into line. If drivers fail to undertake routine tyre checks and consequently, evidence of undue wear and tear is ignored, then the life of a tyre can be reduced by half or even two-thirds in some cases and that costs businesses money.

“Industry surveys keep telling us, as do our customers, that cost control is their number one priority. However, the biggest cost facing companies is drivers and too often managers and directors are failing to implement measures to manage them effectively. This then translates into driver abuse of vehicles of which tyres is one of the most obvious examples.”

Of the 8,429 ‘damaged’ tyres replaced by ARI – including as a result of under or over inflation and blowouts – a total of 1,164 tyres (3.44%) were replaced because they were below the 1.6mm legal minimum across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire circumference.

Additionally, a total of 2,312 tyres (6.83%) were replaced due to sidewall damage, 1,856 (5.48%) due to uneven tracking and 1,131 (3.34%) due to irregular wear, issues that may have occurred due to a failure by drivers to correctly and regularly, check their vehicle’s tyres.

“Our figures show that for a variety of reasons that all impact on vehicle safety as well as fuel economy, thousands of tyres were replaced prematurely because they had not reached the end of their natural life,” said Mr Minshull.

In replacing tyres, ARI also detected that some tyres were changed due to more than one defect. That included some tyres having tread depths below the legal minimum and suffering from tracking damage and being illegal and suffering from under or over inflation.

At lower levels of under-inflation, a particularly common fault, a tyre’s contact patch with the road surface is reduced to two small areas towards the outer edges of the tread. With the full vehicle load placed on these areas, the tread wears at a much higher rate, drastically reducing the performance of the tyre and forcing their replacement much sooner than they would otherwise have needed to.

By running tyres at just 80% of the recommended pressure, motorists can expect tyre life to be reduced to around 75%. If the pressure falls to 60%, motorists can expect to achieve just 35% of the potential mileage from a tyre.

Illegal tyres are the most frequent vehicle fault detected by ARI’s MasterView technology, which is used by independent garages belonging to its MasterServe network.

MasterView is a unique remote video inspection system used to transmit live pictures of vehicles about to undergo service, maintenance or repair (SMR) back to ARI’s maintenance management team. The images are then scrutinised by in house experts.

When vehicle damage or abuse – such as a vehicle running on illegal or damaged tyres – is detected, fleet managers in charge of the vehicles are informed and shown the evidence so they can take action. MasterView can then be used to proactively police vehicle condition in the future.

As a result, MasterView has become many fleet managers’ eyes in policing vehicle condition and delivering peace of mind – particularly where vehicles are operated remotely and are rarely seen by transport chiefs.

Mr Minshull said: “Images bring jobs to life for fleet managers. Many of our clients never see the vehicles because they are operated away from where they are based. Therefore, the images are the only time they see the vehicles. Vehicles are valuable assets so the images are absolutely invaluable to fleet managers to see the condition in which they are being kept.”

But, it is not just the cost of replacement tyres that fleets must take into account, as fuel consumption is also hit by a failure to maintain tyres at their correct pressures.

Driving on tyres which are just 10psi under the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure can increase fuel consumption by 2.5%. By keeping tyres at their correct pressures, motorists can travel further on each tank of fuel, reduce their CO2 emissions and stay safer.

“Making sure that tyres are correctly inflated costs nothing yet can save fleets significant sums of money,” said Mr Minshull.

He added: “Aside from breaking the law regarding vehicle roadworthiness, negligence about tyre faults increases the risk of companies coming into contact with criminal and civil prosecutions as a consequence of drivers being involved in road crashes.

“The regular checking of tyre tread and pressure and overall condition should be a key feature of all corporate risk management policies and procedures. The failure of drivers to check tyres, at least monthly and ideally every time they fill up with fuel, could have disastrous consequences.”

Article source: http://www.logisticshandling.com/articles/2013/01/23/tyre-maintenance-ignorance-proves-costly-for-fleets,-says-ari-fleet-uk/