Analyzing site conditions enhances safety and is the first step to eliminating many conditions which can lead to downtime. While some instances of downtime are unavoidable, there are measures that can help avoid those associated costs.
Maintaining the roads and general conditions at the site can help prevent equipment and tire damages. Proactive site cleanup can eliminate construction debris, nails, metal, broken pallets, and other materials which can cause a significant nuisance for tires and equipment. Debris punctures can lead to rapid deflation; proper site maintenance can eliminate the possibility of damage and tire punctures.
Standing water due to poor drainage at the site can also lead to potential problems. Puddles can mask hidden construction debris, which may damage tires and equipment. Wet tires are more susceptible to cutting. Dusty construction sites can also lead to visually impaired conditions, which can lead to damage by unseen debris and objects. When maintained properly, a construction site can reduce negative impacts on both the construction equipment and tire life.
Construction road design should be considered in concert with the capability of the tires and equipment to load, speed, and required cycle distance. Grades, road crown, and turning radius are important road construction considerations. Proper road construction avoids shifting loads and uneven weight distribution on the tires and equipment, avoiding tire overload and operational damages. Consult your tire and equipment manufacturers for the proper recommendations.
Because the operators are on-site all the time, they see problems that need to be fixed, whether it’s in their pre-trip inspection or while operating the equipment. Managers and supervisors can draw their operators into the equation by asking for input and cultivating a team approach to site, vehicle, and tire maintenance. Operators should be kept in-the-loop on situations with their equipment or tires, so they are aware when they conduct their quick inspection or operate the equipment.
When it comes to tire life optimization and avoiding downtime, maintaining the vehicle is critically important. Brakes, struts, rock ejectors, and alignment all need attention to function properly and not have an adverse effect on a vehicle’s tires. Ensuring the vehicle is correctly aligned helps to prevent uneven wear on the steer axle tires. It is also important to check the suspension regularly through a comprehensive strut maintenance program and to evaluate the rock ejectors for any potential problems.
All vehicle operators should do a thorough walk-around inspection of their vehicle before beginning operation. They should look for cuts, holes, cracks, or any other damage to tires or wheels. The constant inspection of a rim and tire helps to minimize and detect any issues in a timely manner and ensure they are dealt with before becoming major maintenance issues or going beyond the point of serviceability. During tire and wheel checks, examine all rim hardware for any signs of cracks or flange damage. It is also important to check the valve hardware for signs of damage or wear.
A radial tire that is either over- or under-inflated is vulnerable to potential downtime. If no other tip is remembered, this is the one to note and to take steps to implement as quickly as possible.
All tires should be kept at the pressure specified by the tire and vehicle manufacturers. The correct tire pressure for a radial tire will vary widely depending on the machine type, manufacturer model type, and weight. It is always a good idea to consult the tire manufacturer to ensure that each axle is properly weighed and the correct pressure is set. The manufacturer can also answer questions and provide additional tire advice based on the site’s specific terrain and layout.
Any vehicle with properly inflated radial tires carries its load in a noticeably different way. Radial tire technology separates the work done by the sidewall and tread areas, allowing the tire to conform to the terrain by running at lower air pressures than bias tires. This lower air pressure yields a more even footprint and higher levels of traction for radial tires. The constant footprint ensures that the lugs strike the contact patch simultaneously, reducing vehicle vibration. However, if the tire is over-inflated, many of these radial advantages and increased productivity benefits are lost.
Tire pressures should be measured and managed by trained maintenance staff on a daily or weekly basis.
Load management is another crucial area because of the weights carried by the tires. When a load is not centered, it can often put too much weight on one site of the truck, causing an overload on that site’s tires. Overloading tires will lead to shorter tire life or worse, downtime. Even if properly centered, every load should stay within total gross vehicle weight (GVW) compliance. Michelin also suggests conducting weight studies regularly. A balanced load will ensure both safety and equipment longevity.
Tires will normally display what happened to them to cause them to come out of service. Inspecting scrap tires as they come out of service can help prevent future tire loss and indicate the need for tire or vehicle repairs or adjustments in vehicle operation.
Finally, establishing a tire performance improvement committee can benefit a site by forcing discussion on how tire assets are being used and maintained. The committee should be composed of personnel from different areas of responsibility at the site. Regular monthly meetings of the tire committee are recommended to discuss any needed and relevant changes for correcting any issues. Direction should be set for the standards to which to adhere so damage is preventable from the onset. The service provider and tire manufacturer should also have input into the process to give best practice information for the particular site and equipment.
Proper and proactive construction site maintenance will have a dramatic effect on avoiding downtime. While a comprehensive maintenance program will reap significant benefits, just paying attention to the basic areas will help provide more productive, longer-lasting tires and equipment. ■
About The Author Hugo Morales is a marketing product manager with Michelin North America Earthmover Tires.

Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2014
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