Australian expert warns of false economy
A new habit in cost cutting measures by major transport companies in Australia is likely to come back to haunt them, according to independent industry expert, Brad Bearman, who says the revamping of tyre purchasing and management dynamics to save costs is highly likely to emerge further down the track as a higher expense.
“In general, a sizeable percentage of the larger transport companies are dropping links with the better-known tyre companies such as Michelin, Bridgestone and Beaurepaires for their supply and servicing,” said Mr Bearman. “Instead, they are purchasing tyres directly from non-traditional Asia-based producers and appointing inexperienced in-house tyre fitters in the false belief they will get better results. This is good in principle, but the real problems will emerge a little further down the track,” added Mr Bearman, developer of the world’s only software based Bears Tyre Tracker.
“There is a huge variation in quality from such sources and what is now at risk is predictability because it not only puts cheaper tyres onto our truck fleets, it waters down the attention to detail which truck tyres really need. Management of tyres is the number one ingredient now – from tyre fitting through to maintenance, rotation and replacement, but there are precious few tyre fitters in Australia left with comprehensive knowledge. This is where the problems will set in. What looks great for now as a low tyre maintenance bill will become a complicated and costly problem in the not too distant future because the lifecycle of each tyre will not be optimised. There has been no new generation of properly trained tyre fitters come through. The few, long-termers have left the industry but the transport companies have the attitude of “we can buy cheap tyres and have an in-house guy fitting them”.
“Managing truck tyres is not like baking a cake. You have to know how to spot problems at a very early stage, you have to be aware of what every single tyre is doing in its lifecycle, quality standards need constant monitoring and you need someone with national links to handle blowouts and similar challenges for when a vehicle becomes stranded. Tyres made in China are becoming the tyre of choice, but seeing transport companies enlist the services of a tyre fitter and thinking they are in front is a potentially damaging illusion.”
Mr Bearman is purportedly Australia’s only truly independent national truck and bus fleet tyre practitioner. He has more than 35 years’ experience in the truck tyre industry. Bears Tyre Tracker is a technology which produces data which Mr Bearman is prepared to claim backs his warnings on these industry changes. “The Tyre Tracker is the proper analysis and reporting tool,” he said. “Most transport companies are living in the past by using simple log books which say nothing more than ‘tyre on, tyres off’.” Bears Tyre Tracker is software-based; it logs distances and advises rotations at optimised moments of each tyre’s lifespan. Mr Bearman had the system designed so it can provide rotation schedules for every unique application.
“The Tyre Tracker makes the actions of these internal tyre fitters totally transparent and shortcomings would be obvious as the data unearths all performance and cost issues. Apart from enhancing tyre life, the technology also delivers intensely accurate cost breakdowns for each tyre. But the transport companies are just seeing a low bill come in, they can’t see that hardly anything is being done on the ground, and this is not helping the tyres or the issue of cost around them. There is no grasp whatsoever of tyre performance. I have seen how a lot of transport companies work but there is not enough getting done and their naive tyre management is actually costing them more in wastage,” he said.
“The new trend of choosing cheap, China-made tyres is seeing the likes of Michelin and Bridgestone dropping its prices because they are now panicking at losing market share. Even if the likes of Michelin dropped its prices so low they became an attractive choice against the Chinese tyres, it is still a wasted resource without proper management. Everything on trucks is being serviced yet the tyres are being forgotten.”