A waste company may not think of tires as a critical component of its fleet, but choosing the right set and adhering to strict maintenance protocols can be just as important as other preventative maintenance practices.

“Refuse trucks have a challenging job. These trucks are expected to operate in the heat of the summer and in the cold of winter during snow and ice events,” Michael Burroughes, product category manager for the Urban Division of Michelin North America, Greenville, South Carolina, says. “They may have to operate on paved city streets where curbs and high-scrub conditions are the enemy, or they may operate on a rural route with unpaved roads or in landfills where they may encounter rocks, debris and other sharp objects.”

Despite the often-overlooked nature of the role tires play in a fleet’s operations, selecting the right tire for the right application based on tread wear, change intervals and cost savings can make or break a hauling operation.

“Many fleets look at tires as a disposable item versus an asset,” Ryan Hannah, product manager for the Commercial Group at Bridgestone Americas, Nashville, Tennessee, says. “This causes decision makers to look at the initial purchase price versus the overall total life cycle cost. This is less sustainable, less efficient and can end up being quite costly.”

The first step

Looking at the tread is a good starting point when picking out tires for a specific application, Burroughes says.

“Waste hauling operations demand a tire with deeper and wider treads in order to extend tread life in a waste collection operation,” he says.

An example he provides is the 315/80R22.5 Michelin ZUS2, which is designed for long tread life in high-scrub urban applications such as those faced by waste vehicles. Additionally, Burroughes says retread products can help extend a tire’s lifespan: A tire from a refuse or waste fleet can be treated four to six times or more, depending on the casing integrity and fleet maintenance practices, whereas a tire running on a line-haul fleet may get retreaded once or twice, depending on the maintenance policy.

Hannah calls tire retreads “critical” to a waste fleet’s tire program. “Retreading is a waste fleet best practice,” he says. “Many waste-specific casings can be paired with waste-specific retreads that feature scrub-resistant compounds for long service life to ensure fleets get the most out of their valuable tire assets.”

When it comes to picking the type of tire for an application, Brian Bentley, national account program manager for the Construction Division at Trelleborg Wheel Systems, Wakefield, Massachusetts, says operators need to consider where it will be used.

“In landfill applications, where equipment needs to maintain a certain level of flotation, pneumatic tires would be the most appropriate,” he says. “In transfer stations and MRF sites (material recovery facilities), which are primarily concrete pads, tires are more susceptible to cuts, punctures and excessive wear due to abrasion. In cases like these, solid tires are a better option.”

Hannah says determining the truck type and hauling applications the tire will be used for, such as on- and off-road capabilities for rural pickup or landfill transport, can help operators ensure their needs are met. “Bridgestone recommends fleets work with a trusted dealer partner to discuss their business needs and identify the right tire for their goals,” he says.

Going the distance

Once the right tire has been selected, Evan Perrow, senior product marketing manager at Goodyear, Akron, Ohio, says the next step for operators is to make sure the tires are maintained properly. “Maintenance, including regular tire inflation checks and adjustments, is strongly recommended for waste haul fleets that want to optimize the performance of their tires,” he says.

Perrow recommends checking for overinflation and underinflation, since both conditions can change a tire’s footprint and service life. “Underinflation can be particularly detrimental as it can contribute to premature and uneven wear,” he says.

Underinflation can also cause tires to flex on the road and impair fuel economy since underinflated tires cause truck engines to work harder. “Like tires for other applications, waste haul truck tires are designed to run at specific pressures based on the load they are required to carry,” Perrow says.

Pre- and post-trip visual inspections can also help find issues with a truck’s tires. “Things to check for include unusual wear patterns, which can be countered or corrected if detected early enough,” Perrow says. “Also look for cuts, cracks, blisters and other anomalies. If conditions are severe, they should be taken out of service.”

Hannah says dealer partners may have programs available to help operators maintain their tires. Consultations, he says, can be done through a yard check where technicians trained by the Tire Industry Association, Bowie, Maryland, assess tire conditions and determine if the retread repair process is a viable option.

“This practice helps ensure fleets are getting the most out of their tire assets,” Hannah says.

Partnering up

Industry sources say while choosing and maintaining tires for a fleet can be complex, working with a trusted dealer or partner can make the process easier. These partnerships can help ensure operators are getting the best tires for an application and are properly maintaining them.

“A trusted dealer or partner will help [a customer] design a custom tire policy, keeping in mind the requirements of the fleet to maximize uptime,” Hannah says.

Perrow says partnering with a dealer can also help operators understand the total tire operating cost and the role tires can play in that cost. “Some fleets consider price to be the driving factor, but we urge them to look beyond the upfront cost of a tire and instead consider how [establishing a partnership with a dealer] can help operators optimize the return on their tire investment,” he says.

The author is the assistant editor for Waste Today and can be contacted at hheavilin@gie.net.