07 Nov Proper Maintenance for Off-the-Road Construction Tires
Why Maintenance is Necessary for Heavy Equipment Tires
When an OTR tire fails, it’s not as simple as loosening a few lugnuts and popping on a spare from your trunk to continue the task. It’s a pricey time drain. And it’s completely avoidable. Having the foresight to keep your off-the-road tires in good working condition can help bolster productivity, cut down repairs, improve tire life and safety, manage fuel consumption, and minimize downtime on your projects.
Construction fleet managers, shop personnel, and equipment operators are no strangers to the inherent need for their equipment to be in tip-top shape. When things break down, so does operational efficiency, which impacts project timelines and disturbs the bottom line.
Most importantly, having your OTR tires rolling smoothly means that those operating heavy equipment machinery are not in imminent danger. Relatively simple steps can prevent property damage, slash the risk of raised insurance rates, and, most importantly — reduce the likelihood of personal injury and even death. Preparation is the backbone of a strong project delivery. Your tires are no different.
Perform Routine Inspection of Construction Tires
At the start of each shift, a field inspection by the operator should be performed to look for obvious signs of damage. Tears and punctures are fairly common on sites where your OTR tires consistently take on things like scrap material, metal, and rebar. Inflation pressure, tread depth, and sidewalls should be given the once-over to ensure the machinery is safe to operate in your tires’ current state.
Measure Proper Inflation
Cracking open the manufacturer’s specifications will tell you the recommended inflation pressure, which can vary based on tire type, size, and application. You can also speak with a specialist to help guide you in the right direction. In an ideal world, this kind of inspection would be carried out every shift.
To get the most accurate air-pressure reading of your OTR tires, check it when the tires are cold. Tires will lose or gain air pressure when there is a temperature change, so the pressure expands when the tires are hot from ambient temperature or operating temperature. The pressure lessens when the tires are cold and unmoved, leading to a more accurate reading.
Every tire is designed to handle a specific load weight, and underinflation and overinflation negatively impact tire performance in specific ways. A tire operating below the recommended pressure will experience an increased operating temperature that could damage the tire. Underinflation will also create uneven wear and tear and kick up your fuel consumption. On the other hand, overinflation will cause impact breaks or rapid air loss. Maintaining the correct air pressure ensures a long and happy life for your OTR tires. If nothing else, remember this: air carries the weight, not the tire.
Another important factor in your tire’s air pressure is knowing how to assess whether or not you have a slow leak. Daily pressure checks at the same time each day can help indicate if your tires are keeping pressure. Logging how much pressure is lost between checks can help identify if you’re losing pressure at an abnormal rate. If you do discover a leak, contact an OTR expert from a reputable service center to determine if the leak is in the tire or wheel and whether or not the leak is fixable with a patch or needs to be replaced.
Check Tread Depth/Non-Skid
Tread depth is the vertical measurement between the top of the tread rubber to the bottom of the tire’s deepest grooves. For accuracy, use a proper tire tread depth gauge to spot any signs of irregular wear.
The tread depth has to be measured on several points across the tread area and around the circumference as well. Abnormal wear should be looked at by a tire service professional to understand where the maintenance failure is breaking down. If the tread depth limit has been reached or exceeded, your tire needs to be replaced.
If left unchecked, wear on your OTR tires can create unfortunate consequences. When your tread depth is worn, it reduces the traction and grip of the tire on job site surfaces, which ultimately creates inefficiency of load movement and reduces the ability to maintain lead and lag specifications. A preventative measure for uneven wear is regularly scheduled tire rotations. How regularly will depend on the site-specific conditions that you’re using your OTR tires for. Fleet managers should consult with their preventative maintenance providers for the best recommendations on your suggested application rotation schedule.
Check for Cracks, Separation, and Punctures of the Sidewall
Another factor that should be accounted for by maintenance personnel is a visual inspection of your OTR tires’ sidewalls for any irregularities. Indicators such as cracking, tearing, bulging, or dry rot should alert you to seek immediate repair options. Regular maintenance is crucial for identifying wear and tear issues early, preventing accidents, and maximizing the tire’s life.
Look for Signs of Wear/Tear On Wheels
When you examine the lock rings and rim bases, keep a sharp eye out for any loss of contour. Loss of contour is when the metal mating surfaces of the lock rings or rim bases begin to wear away. If either of these parts is corroding, cracked, or broken, they must be replaced. Corrosion on these parts simply cannot be repaired, and doing so (reworking, welding, brazing, etc.) can lead to tire failure. It’s also important to note that welding on a rim or any wheel component at any time is a huge no-no, especially when a tire is mounted. The heat from the welding torch can be explosive due to the gasses released from the rubber tire.
Damaged or worn-out wheels can dramatically decrease safety and tire life. Factors include:
- Tire Life
- Fuel Consumption
- Operator Comfort
Application and Operator Impact
In addition to staying up to date with your inspections, how operators drive plays a pivotal role in the health and maintenance of these very large investments. Driving slowly and attentively can make a world of difference. Doing so decreases the chance of running overhaul road debris that can puncture or create impact breaks.
While time is money, and the temptation to get as much done as possible is strong, overloading your equipment can negatively impact productivity. The excessive stress it puts on the tires can cause them to overheat and deform, possibly leading to tire failure. Sacrificing tire lifespan and operator safety is not worth it to move a little faster; the setbacks are much worse. Keep yourself educated about how much load your equipment tires can carry and stay within capacity. Bottom line: OTR tire maintenance best practices can lead to increased productivity for your team, safety on the job site, and overall cost efficiency.
Why East Bay Tire?
Our service locations offer the largest, most modern fleet of service trucks that can handle every OTR situation. We have top-off-line trained technicians who are TIA-certified, Klinge-trained, and MSHA-certified. We offer technology solutions that include Tons-Per-Hour (TMPH), a data collection assessment that helps gauge operational costs.
We work to make your equipment more valuable. Our program includes:
- Site evaluations
- Reporting & Data Analysis
- Wheel & wheel components
- Tire Life
- Rim assessment and sales
- Scrap tire analysis
- Capacity to retread the largest OTR tires in the world, including section and spot repair
- Applications include loaders, haul trucks, rigid dumps, articulated dumps, and scrapers.
- Largest, most readily available inventory of tires
- Highest level of safety