Operators are increasingly signing comprehensive tyre management agreements in an effort to improve safety, cut downtime and reduce costs, as well as benefit from proactive monitoring and reactive maintenance.
The sustainability and environmental benefits of such contracts are also becoming more crucial to organisations who see it as a way to help meet stringent government emissions targets and their own green strategies.
Abellio Bus has just signed sign a new five-year Michelin Effitires tyre management contract across its 800-strong fleet, partly due to what it describes as “the tyre manufacturer’s commitment to sustainable transport.”
All tyres fitted to Abellio Bus vehicles are managed through a multi-life policy with Michelin’s technicians regrooving worn tyres on site once the tread depth reaches 3-4mm, helping to prolong each tyre’s life in its most fuel-efficient state.
Once the regrooved tyres have worn, they are retreaded at the Michelin Remix plant in Stoke.
Michelin will mainly fit urban bus tyres across the Abellio Bus fleet, including the new X InCity EV Z – its first range of tyres specifically designed for electric vehicles.
Jon Eardley, Engineering Director at Abellio Bus, said: “When we compared the raw materials, oil, CO2 and waste savings Michelin could offer, compared to a tyre policy that doesn’t include the use of Michelin Remix retreads and regrooving, the figures were staggering.
“Our target is to have around 120 electric buses in service by early 2022, so the X InCity EV Z will be a key part of this new contract.”
Meanwhile, Bretts Transport, based in North Cambridgeshire, has a multi-year contract with Goodyear in which all of its 246 vehicles are fitted with the Fuelmax Gen-2 tyre range.
According to Goodyear, these tyres provide improved mileage, better all-weather capability and less noise, but with the same level of fuel efficiency as previous Fuelmax tyres.
They also include radio frequency identification (RFID), with a tag embedded inside the tyre to allow for identification and connectivity to tyre management and tracking systems, which increases efficiency and acts as a deterrent to thieves.
In addition, Bretts uses Goodyear’s national commercial vehicle support network, TruckForce, with technicians carrying out onsite tyre checks every quarter, and providing 24/7 roadside assistance and reactive tyre maintenance.
Simon Brett, Managing Director at Bretts Transport, said: “At Bretts, we have a large fleet of premium vehicles, and we aim to provide consistently high levels of service to our customers to enable them to grow with us.
“This partnership with Goodyear will enable us to continue with that, minimising down time and keeping us where we need to be for longer – on the road.”
Stobart Energy has also entered into a partnership with Bridgestone, which is tailored to the precise needs of the biomass fuel supplier.
Its fleet is currently running on the Bridgestone Duravis R002, a tyre that delivers excellent wet grip and which is designed to lower cost per kilometre through both wear performance and fuel efficiency.
Bridgestone recommended that Stobart Energy alter the tyre specification for its Scotland operation, where the roads and weather patterns are typically more demanding than other areas of the UK.
Therefore, two vehicles north of the border that required a more aggressive tread to cope with arduous conditions were specially equipped with M-Series tyres.
Simon Cartwright, Stobart Energy’s director of logistics said: “We work from 14 locations from the north of Scotland to the south of Wales and south east of England.
“Bridgestone didn’t come to us with a ‘one size fits all’ solution, but a bottom-up approach, having understood the unique demands of our fleet to begin with.”
Barrett Steel uses Continental’s UK-based retread tyre brand, Bandvulc, managed through Conti 360° Solutions, and recently signed a two-year extension.
The steel stockholder and processer has a dedicated account manager, a customised tyre policy, benefits from ongoing monitoring and reporting as well as a 24/7 tyre breakdown service across the UK and Europe.
Barrett Steel’s current rubber policy sees its tractors’ drive axles run Bandvulc BD08 Fleetmaster Long Haul retread tyres, while steer axles wear Uniroyal’s FH40 high-mileage tyre.
Its trailers use the Bandvulc BT08 Fleetmaster retread tyre.
Richard Tallis, Group Logistics Manager at Barrett Steel, said: “I definitely feel that I can trust our contacts to always help me to find a solution and get things done.
“It’s one of the main reasons why we chose to sign an extension, because we have this strong relationship that meets all our needs.
“We strive to operate in a socially responsible way, and we’re happy that we can support the recycling process by choosing retreaded rubber.”
Universal Tyres designed a price per kilometre (PPK) tyre contract for Poole, Dorset-based walking floor specialists, D&L Haulage (Dorset).
The tyre specialist upgraded the quality of tyres the haulier was using and suggested adopting TyreWatch, a tyre pressure monitoring system that monitors every tyre in a fleet, looking at changes in pressure and temperature.
When it sees an issue developing alerts are sent via email to both operator and tyre service provider, so action can be taken.
Wayne Willavoys, account manager at Universal Tyres said: “With TyreWatch we can also do a predictive analysis based on the curve of a tyre deflating.
“If it’s deflating slowly or has a self-sealing puncture – something which often happens around 80 to 90psi – and the vehicle is empty, we can get it back to D&L’s yard.
“That way the driver can pick up a spare trailer and get away, leaving us to go in and deal with the puncture.”
Transport operators will continue to look towards tyre manufacturers and other specialists to provide strategic-level consultancy as well as quality rubber backed up by professional management expertise and technology.
The benefits of having the best possible fitments for a fleet, and then watching them being managed carefully through multiple lives to extract the maximum performance from every single tyre appear to be a no-brainer from a safety, environmental and cost perspective.