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Cradle to grave: Change the way you think about tyres

Bridgestone SA Small Medium & Large Fleet Executive Vernon Slack

Tyres represent a significant cost for the transport industry—and are vital to safety. Taking a holistic approach will generate huge savings, and also help to reduce accidents.

We all know instinctively that buying quality makes sense but, in business, we often end up buying poorer quality goods because the lower price is easier to justify. This way of thinking might hold good for relatively unimportant products but when it comes to something like tyres, it is really faulty. A much better approach from all points of view is to look at the entire life cycle of the tyre—from cradle to grave, so to speak—really to understand the impact of quality on total cost of ownership.

There are two primary factors that will influence the tyre’s longevity, and thus its total cost: quality and maintenance.

Buying a good-quality tyre will obviously affect the invoice price but this needs to be considered in the context of the entire life of the tyre. A good quality tyre will last for longer than one of lesser quality but, even more important, it will permit retreading. Retreading will greatly extend the life of the tyre still further and improve the crucial measurement of value in this context: tyre cost per kilometre.

Retreading also has ecological benefits, increasingly important in today’s world. Less oil is needed to produce a retread than a new tyre (26 litres compared to 83 litres), and up to 20 kg of steel per tyre is reused in the retread. Overall, retreading saves around 30 percent of carbon emissions as compared with manufacturing a new tyre.

In summary, retreading will not only increase the life of your tyre and reduce the cost per kilometre, it will also contribute to environmental sustainability.

When it comes to the second factor, maintenance, the argument for taking an holistic viewpoint becomes even stronger. On average, the purchase of the tyre itself represents half of all tyre-related costs. By contrast, maintenance accounts for only around 10 percent of these costs, but its impact is huge. For example, ensuring that tyres are always inflated to the correct pressure will prolong the life of the tyre, and result in fewer breakdowns caused by tyre malfunction.

Just to give an example of the impact of maintenance: a tyre inflated 20 percent below the recommended pressure only lasts for 75 percent of its normal life. Regular inspection of tyres will also identify problems before they become serious, again reducing the chance of blowouts and prolonging tyre life.

In other words, buying good-quality tyres and then maintaining them properly brings a host of benefits: tyre life is prolonged considerably and the impact on the environment is greatly reduced. The hidden costs of vehicles being out of commission due to blowouts or other tyre malfunctions are also minimised. The higher initial expense of purchasing the quality tyre thus actually translates into a considerable financial saving as well.

Taking the long view makes excellent business sense.

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