Words from the wise

Those in­ti­mately in­volved in tyres and wheels share their wis­dom on cru­cial is­sues

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS JONATHAN STE­WART

Those in­ti­mately in­volved in tyres and wheels share their wis­dom on cru­cial is­sues

A head of their ses­sions at the Tech­ni­cal and Main­te­nance Con­fer­ence ( TMC) 2017, the in­dus­try’s big­gest event for heavy ve­hi­cle main­te­nance and tech­ni­cal is­sues run jointly by the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (ATA) and the Aus­tralian Road Trans­port Sup­pli­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (ARTSA), three in­dus­try lead­ers spoke to ATN to give an in­sight into the prac­ti­cal ad­vice on of­fer.


Hold­ing two ses­sions at the event is AIR CTI founder Chet Cline, who started 20 years ago to de­velop his com­pany’s cen­tral tyre in­fla­tion sys­tem to al­low drivers to tai­lor their load for the con­di­tions.

Promis­ing to of­fer bet­ter trac­tion, bet­ter tyre wear and a bet­ter ride, the Aus­tralian-owned and -op­er­ated com­pany says it all adds up to im­proved safety, fuel econ­omy and job sched­ul­ing.

“Ul­ti­mately, I be­lieve I am devel­op­ing a busi­ness that will lower truck op­er­a­tion costs in nu­mer­ous ar­eas,” Cline says.

“For in­stance, run­ning the op­ti­mal tyre pres­sure in­creases tyre life by at least 30 per cent while re­duc­ing main­te­nance through re­duced wear and tear on the truck and trailer via ex­ces­sive vi­bra­tion from op­ti­mis­ing tyre pres­sures, there­fore re­duc­ing down time, which most op­er­a­tors don’t un­der­stand the real costs,” he says.

This re­duc­tion has strong cau­sa­tion ef­fects, ac­cord­ing to Cline, ben­e­fit­ing both the ve­hi­cle’s longevity and the en­vi­ron­ment but also the health of the in­dus­try’s drivers.

“Re­duc­ing vi­bra­tion lev­els and im­prov­ing

“Whole body vi­bra­tion is now a recog­nised health haz­ard”

truck con­trol re­duces driver stress and strain,” he says, “which re­duces fa­tigue, and, when the tyre pres­sure is matched to the weight car­ried by the tyre, as per op­ti­mi­sa­tion, as rec­om­mended by all re­spon­si­ble tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers, the truck stops shorter, han­dles bet­ter and is safer.

“Whole body vi­bra­tion [WBV] is now a recog­nised health haz­ard, and our rough roads are killing our drivers through WBV.

“Road dam­age, i.e. in­fra­struc­ture dam­age, is di­rectly re­lated to tyre pres­sure. The higher the tyre pres­sure, the more dam­age.

“And throw­ing away one third of all truck tyres and need­lessly dam­ag­ing our trucks and in­fra­struc­ture means we’re dam­ag­ing our en­vi­ron­ment need­lessly.”

In terms of prac­ti­cal num­bers, the AIR CTI founder be­lieves “al­most every heavy truck steer tyre is slightly un­der­in­flated” and the rest “are at least 25 per cent over­in­flated, even when fully legally loaded”.

Run­ning empty? Well, Cline says “most empty trucks and trailer tyres are 300 per cent to 400 per cent over­in­flated”.

“The tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers have given up … the govern­ment reg­u­la­tors sim­ply don’t know any bet­ter and in­dus­try does what it al­ways does.

“My fa­ther ran 100psi, as did my grand­fa­ther … But, they didn’t run ra­dial tyres.”

The fi­nan­cial im­pact “de­pends upon mileage, what they cart, what roads they cart on and the load to un­loaded driv­ing per­cent­ages”, he says, but heavy ve­hi­cles work­ing on rough roads with the CTI sys­tem only on the drive tyres can “save be­tween $5000 and $10,000 per year”.

“One cus­tomer with a tip truck went from 27,000km tyre life to over 45,000. Another went from 90k to over 135k. Th­ese are nor­mal im­prove­ments.

“The worse the tyre wear, the more we ben­e­fit. Another out­back op­er­a­tor was re­plac­ing his lead re­frig­er­ated trailer every year, it was shak­ing apart. He just bought a new truck, fit­ted AIR CTI of course, af­ter seven years ... and is still us­ing the same frig trailer!

“Ev­ery­one tells me that trans­port is highly com­pet­i­tive, so why do they throw away one tyre out of three? Who does it im­pact? Ev­ery­one. We all pay for roads, we all pay for ac­ci­dents and death.”

For truck op­er­a­tors, Cline’s ad­vice to slash the cost of op­er­at­ing a sin­gle truck to a heavy ve­hi­cle fleet ex­tends to aero, en­gine cool­ing and to fuel it­self.

When it comes to stream­lin­ing heavy ve­hi­cles, he says only 43 per cent of semi-trailer trucks in the US take ad­van­tage of any aero mod­i­fi­ca­tions.

“Why do they like giv­ing so much money to fuel com­pa­nies?” he says. “Aero is sim­ple but let’s not spend a load of money fit­ting stuff to a truck to make it look good when it costs them $30,000 or so over the life of the truck.

“The dif­fer­ence in fuel econ­omy at 90km/h com­par­ing an aero mir­ror with the clas­sic west coaster mir­ror is a loss of 1 per cent.

“So th­ese guys re­quest big square trucks in­stead of droop nose trucks, then pay ex­tra for ex­ter­nal air clean­ers, on both sides, plus ex­tend the air in­takes up high, and in­stall spe­cial air scoops that cost up to $700 each. Then they in­stall big bull­bars, hood de­flec­tors, etc. All of that costs them money.”

When it comes to en­gine cool­ing, he says he has a sim­ple trick to keep the heat down and the fan off.

“I drive many trucks from Mel­bourne to Moe,” Cline says. “In most cases, the fan comes on, even in our win­ter, com­ing up slight hills.”

“The en­gine wa­ter ther­mo­stat is too close to the fan ther­mo­stat. The ra­di­a­tor, es­pe­cially on cab overs, does not have any guide pan­els to make the ram air go through the ra­di­a­tor, and no one wor­ries about get­ting the air out of the en­gine area.

“A sim­ple flap be­low the ra­di­a­tor helps to cre­ate a low pres­sure area, suck­ing more air through the ra­di­a­tor.

“I can’t re­mem­ber the last time my truck fan op­er­ated. And at up to 75 horse­power that a fan sucks, this is free fuel sav­ing.”

Cline’s fi­nal piece of ad­vice comes on the back of nearly 10 years of re­search and con­cerns fuel, par­tic­u­larly for the log truck and other off-road op­er­a­tors.

“Diesel, when shaken, froths up, it ab­sorbs air,” Cline says. “So our stan­dard trucks op­er­at­ing on rough roads with tanks with­out baf­fles are shak­ing and mak­ing a fuel with lots of air in it.

“Both Cater­pil­lar and Cum­mins say that most fuel de­liv­ered to the en­gine has around 10 per cent air in it.”

The so­lu­tion will be ar­riv­ing soon as an ‘airX­cluder’, which he says shows “be­tween 4 and 8 per cent sav­ings”.


Al­coa Wheel Prod­ucts Vic­to­ria and Tas­ma­nia state man­ager Michael Nichols is keen to press the right- choices mes­sage to all lev­els of the in­dus­try.

“We will be con­cen­trat­ing on dif­fer­ent wheels on dif­fer­ent trucks,” Nichols says of

his TMC ap­proach. “We’re help­ing our cus­tomers un­der­stand and iden­tify the dif­fer­ences be­tween the dif­fer­ent type of wheels, for ex­am­ple an Amer­i­can 10-285 wheel to a Euro­pean 10-335 wheel and the dif­fer­ent wheel nuts used in the fit­ment of th­ese wheels.”

He sees the big­gest is­sue to be raised as how crit­i­cal it is to iden­tify the cor­rect wheel for fit­ting to the truck and which nuts to use as it im­pacts the safety of the ve­hi­cle.

“I will be ex­plain­ing and demon­strat­ing to cus­tomers how im­por­tant the roll stamp­ing on the wheel is at iden­ti­fy­ing a wheel and what the roll stamp mark­ings ac­tu­ally mean. Cus­tomers need to be vig­i­lant on the us­age of cor­rect wheels,” Nichols says.

Mean­while, he is keen to ex­tol the virtues of a metal close to his com­pany’s heart.

“The num­ber-one trend is pen­e­tra­tion of alu­minium wheels into the trailer mar­ket due to their light­weight prop­er­ties over steel wheels,” he notes.

“Steel wheels are heavy and can weigh up to 40kg each; fit­ting alu­minium wheels such as Al­coa’s Ul­tra One wheel can save over half that weight.

“Across a truck and trailer – 22 wheels – that’s over 450kg. That pro­vides ex­tra pay­load and fuel sav­ings.”


En­gi­neer Bob Wood­ward won the TMC In­dus­try Achieve­ment Award in 2014 and chairs this year’s Tyres & Wheel Main­te­nance ses­sion.

Wood­ward be­lieves that though they are a ma­jor cost, they of­ten don’t reach their full life­span be­cause of poor main­te­nance.

His key con­fer­ence ob­jec­tives are about tyre se­lec­tion ap­pro­pri­ate to the op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment; tyre pres­sure main­te­nance; and iden­ti­fy­ing the cor­rect tyre pres­sure for the ap­pli­ca­tion; know­ing the true costs; ben­e­fits of re-tread­ing (but must have a pre­mium case for re-tread­ing); and con­sid­er­a­tions of sec­tion pro­file.

“There is no such thing a sin­gle tyre pres­sure,” Wood­ward un­der­lines.

“Each tyre has an op­ti­mum tyre pres­sure for each load con­di­tion – most tyres are over­in­flated.

“Who does it im­pact? Tyre pres­sure main­te­nance im­pacts on every op­er­a­tor and the tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion pro­vides the ba­sis for cal­cu­lated op­er­at­ing main­te­nance.” But that’s not all. “There are al­ways other fac­tors that im­pact on tyre life,” he in­sists.

“And what are they? Ni­tro­gen in­fla­tion; wheel bear­ing main­te­nance; wheel [rim] run-out; wheel bal­anc­ing; steel ver­sus al­loy; and shock ab­sorbers, es­pe­cially on air sus­pen­sions.”

Asked about the best ways of tack­ling is­sues, he nom­i­nates on-board tyre pres­sure main­te­nance sys­tems and reg­u­lar in­spec­tions.

“What will need to be done to achieve them? Ex­plore op­tions, then com­mit to cap­i­tal in­vest­ment.

“What or who needs to change? Don’t con­tinue to do the same thing and ex­pect to get a dif­fer­ent re­sult. Mak­ing change re­quires com­mit­ment.”

Op­po­site: En­gi­neer Bob Wood­ward Above: Al­coa Wheel Prod­ucts Vic­to­ria and Tas­ma­nia state man­ager Michael Nichols

Above: AIR CTI founder Chet Cline

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