Canadian Mining Journal


Choosing the Right Tire

The tire should match the job, not just the vehicle. Ken Downes is involved in mining and contractor sales for Kal Tire, a Michelin and Bridgestone/Firestone tire dealer in Vernon, B.C. He describes t...

The tire should match the job, not just the vehicle. Ken Downes is involved in mining and contractor sales for Kal Tire, a Michelin and Bridgestone/Firestone tire dealer in Vernon, B.C. He describes the basic considerations he uses whenever he is consulting with a mine site about tires.

Equipment (truck, loader, dozer, etc.)

1. type, specifications, OE tire size

2. modifications (box size, bucket size)

3. size and weight (consider maximum possible loaded weight)

4. speed

Haul Road

1.haul configuration (uphill laden, downhill laden, number of corners, radius, super elevations)

2. surface (type of rock, size of fracture)

3. wet or dry (how often do they water the haul road for dust control?)

4. maintenance program currently in place (how often are roads maintained?)

5. length of haul; cycle time


1. clean-up program around shovel/loader

2. weight measuring devices on shovel and/or truck (to prevent overloading)

3. consistency with balanced loading (right weight, balanced left to right)

Maintenance Program

1. air pressure check program in place

2.tire condition evaluation in place

3. removal for repair, rotation, etc., program in place

4. wheel component considerations prior to remounting

5. maintenance and performance records program in place (scrap analysis, cost per hour)

6. driver education program in place

Tire Choice

1. size (standard- or low-profile, ply rating,

bias or radial)

2. rubber compound (heat-resistant, cut-

resistant, or both)

3. tread design and tread depth (for traction, protection, long life)

4. manufacturer (history in similar conditions; ability to support mine’s needs)

5. understanding of what problems and issues have existed to this point

Ken adds: “Behind each of the above comments you could literally write a book about all the other considerations and impact of each when it comes to managing tire costs.”

Getting the Best Value from Your Tires

George Couris, senior market manager of North America for Michelin North America Inc., has broken down this process into five (not-always-easy) steps.

1. Assess your application and operating conditions

Considering the type of machine and tire size, think about the most important factors for your operation. Is the top priority long tread life, flat protection, or heat resistance? Also, consider any problems that you currently experience such as traction issues, or frequent cutting. A wide range of tires exists for most machines that provide varying levels of traction, protection and speed. Typically, in order to achieve greater traction or speed, equipment operators must be willing to sacrifice some degree of protection, and vice versa. You need to decide what point on that tradeoff scale would be optimal for your operation.

For those who are currently using bias ply tires, a way to obtain better performance, without changing traction/speed or protection considerations, is to switch to a radial tire. Radial tires can help eliminate any tradeoffs by providing improved traction and speed capabilities, as well as a vast increase in the level of protection.

2. Buy quality. Look for the right and best tire for your application.

Many people make the mistake of thinking “a tire is a tire” and buying primarily on the basis of price. Tires today are highly engineered products, designed specifically for certain applications and conditions in order to deliver the most value to the operation. In addition, there are major differences in tire construction among various brands of tires.

Saving $100 by not buying the right and best tire for the application can quickly turn into an unnecessary expense of $1,000 or more when one considers the potential additional flat repairs, unplanned downtime, lost productivity, cut tires, and rapid tread wear due to improper application. This is in addition to the high expense associated with delays and frequent work stoppages. Tires should be viewed as an investment. Investing wisely in the right and best tire up front will nearly always mean far fewer expenses over following months.

In very rough environments–where most tires are scrapped prior to a normal wear out — a heavier duty tire should be considered. It has been demonstrated many times that radial tires offer tremendous value in these applications. That’s because the heavy duty, steel construction on a radial tire can deliver lower total tire costs by drastically reducing the number of tires that are lost due to cuts, providing much longer service life, and nearly eliminating flats.

3. Get expert advice.

Because tires are specifically suited to an application, and there are a number of choices available with new and better options all the time, it pays to get expert advice on tire selection. It is important to find a tire dealer that you trust. You should expect a dedicated supplier to analyze your operation, deliver the right and best tire, and provide good follow-up service and tire maintenance.

Working closely with a good dealer can help you significantly reduce your overall tire costs and improve the productivity of your machinery.

4. Maintain your investment.

After purchasing tires, it is very important to maintain recommended air pressures, follow proper mounting and dismounting procedures, and perform routine inspections. Improper maintenance can affect a tire’s tread wear, traction, cut resistance, retreadability, and overall life.

The performance advantages gained by checking air pressure on a regular basis are well worth the effort. In addition, proper mounting and dismounting procedures are very important. Many times, it is advantageous to hire your tire dealer to provide this service. If you elect to do this maintenance in-house, it pays to have the dealer, and/or the manufacturer, train your personnel on proper tire maintenance.

5. Track the performance.

The overall performance of your expensive machinery is influenced by the performance of the tires. Tracking your rate of flats, cuts, overall traction and total tire life is extremely important in ensuring that you are getting the best value from your tire investment and that you are maximizing your productivity. It pays to evaluate potentially better tires. Consider using radial tires on some of your equipment as a test.

Accurate measurements are key to successful management practices. Without the knowledge of how your tires affect your overall operation, you lose control of a major impact on your profitability. Tires can affect everything from your operating expenses, to operator comfort, to overall production.

Treating your tires as an investment, by considering all the associated costs and the effects on productivity, will result in a competitive advantage for your operation, and will return a higher level of profit at the end of the day.

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