Continuous improvement in tyre maintenance

Babcock is continuously improving and developing ALCAMiE, its proven approach to fleet management. To do this the company examines more of the components that make up the vehicles within fleets and extracts and assesses more information to see where further improvements can be made.
This approach enables Babcock to recognise the role tyres play in reducing fuel burn. Tyre selection is dependent on the operational environment and the product type and weight being handled.
Ensuring tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and maintained correctly will dramatically affect running costs and fuel burn. This is critical as fuel is still the most expensive part of many operations. 
Reducing fuel costs is just one aspect of how important tyre management is to the optimum running of the fleet. Condition monitoring, maintenance and training can also have a positive impact in a tyre?s lifetime. 
Babcock can provide a complete tyre management service along with other fleet management services, from the smallest skid steer to the largest haul truck and loader. Through this, the company?s qualified and experienced people take full responsibility for every aspect of tyre operation, eliminating the day to day hassles for quarry management personnel.
Where Babcock is responsible for both tyre management and maintenance it provides comprehensive management reports, allowing customers to focus on their core business and retain full control of the tyre and maintenance costs ? at both a site and corporate level. By transferring this responsibility to Babcock, quarrying companies can minimise tyre costs and increase profitability through optimised quarry equipment availability.
Babcock already manages more than 35,000 vehicles and almost 200,000 equipment stock lines worth $70 billion around the world. Through this the company has existing expertise and tyre supplier/manufacturer relationships to quickly deliver savings to new customers, such as through the bulk purchase of tyres.  
On top of this are a number of best practice approaches to tyre management that Babcock can deliver to provide further efficiencies. For example, the single most important aspect of tyre maintenance is tyre pressure. 
Operating tyre life may vary by 20 per cent or more based on whether tyre pressures are maintained at optimum levels. Under-inflated tyres can lead to less fuel economy, increase overheating and tread wear and, at worst, unexpectedly remove a vehicle from the fleet due to a blowout.
By providing scheduled tyre maintenance, Babcock will ensure regular tyre inspections are carried out and pressures are monitored to ensure downtime due to unscheduled tyre repairs or replacements is kept to an absolute minimum. 
The company continually refines servicing methods to extend plant availability, with documented work procedures for all quarrying equipment currently available, including tyre rotation and movement between axles to optimise tyre life. Babcock?s statistics show this approach has reduced downtime by up to 35 per cent.
As part of scheduled tyre maintenance, Babcock assesses the need for tyre repair and retreading. It examines the overall economic viability, not only on a tyre operating cost basis but on the effect to the quarry of equipment downtime. Repair programs require contact monitoring and regular (at least annual) economic evaluation. Where a repair is viable, tyre life is maximised by adopting the most cost-effective repair techniques.
A thorough tyre management and maintenance programme goes further than merely assessing the tyres themselves. Equipment maintenance also influences tyre wear rates, so Babcock regularly assesses for potential vehicle wheel alignment or suspension problems, as these could increase wear rates and therefore maintenance expenditure.
Babcock maintains wheel rims on-site to ensure there is no need to transport them off-site, potentially affecting downtime. It conducts routine magnetic particle inspection and anti-corrosion treatment on-site, to ensure a safe operation.
The environment has an obvious impact on tyres, particularly haul road design and maintenance. The company also advises customers on haul road, bench, loading and dumping area design and maintenance, with a view to optimising tyre life. 
Choosing the right tyre to bring into a quarry fleet is not just related to environment, to the area and type of quarry. Equally influential in the decision is the haul speed, average travel distance, weight of haulage, temperatures and road conditions. 
The compound and tread pattern categorisation of a tyre is also taken into account for the site application, machine type, load to be carried and the area the machine will be working in. All this is part of a product and application inspection, to provide the correct machine with the capabilities to maximise production at the best whole life cost.
How a vehicle is driven and looked after can have a huge influence on tyres? condition and lifespan. Tyre awareness training should be a key part of operator site induction programs, together with regular refresher courses to ensure operators, supervisors and maintenance staff are always aware of the best practice approach they should be taking. 
Babcock is consistently looking to adapt and incorporate technology to improve the data it collects. It is gradually bringing telematics technology into its fleet operation, to better analyse assets, provide substantial cost-saving benefits, improve safety and optimise tyre life. Babcock offers a dynamic tyre condition monitoring system that monitors live tyre pressures and temperatures. 
This system alerts the machine operator if a tyre begins to overheat or the tyre pressure moves outside of its normal operating parameters. These outputs and alerts can be transmitted to a fleet manager live via the existing on-board telematics system.
Substantial savings can be achieved by adopting this technology, not to mention the safety benefits that can be gained by continuously monitoring pressure and temperature build-up that could potentially result in a tyre fire or tyre explosion. 
All tyre-related issues are presented in a general monthly report that includes detailed recommendations, to reduce tyre costs and avoid potential problems by flagging them well in advance.
This includes advice on what new tyres to add to the fleet and when. Babcock uses tyre analysis programmes to identify lower operating cost tyres and to select the right product for each application. The company supports this with detailed analysis and recommendations on brand choice, quantity and delivery schedules. 
Tyre management and maintenance is a crucial component of a wider quarry fleet management program. It takes the same expertise that optimises heavy machinery and equipment (HME) at a quarry and applies it to a specific part of the operation. 
Tyre costs may be significantly lower than those of the HME they are used on, but the relationship between the two means that by ignoring the smaller items, you can seriously damage the larger operation. Engaging a fleet management expert such as Babcock can minimise tyre operating costs and maximise equipment availability and productivity. 
Robert Caprile is the business development director for Babcock?s mining and construction operation in Australia.

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