The benefits of having a partner at the wheel
As market changes bring the acute need for productivity, sustainability and, of course, operating safely, how can mines ensure they choose a tire management partner that will help them succeed and is aligned with their goals?
Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group is a leader in mining tire management and supply in Canada and across five continents. Here are a few considerations based on our nearly 50 years of experience.
In the last year, mines needed to rely on their partners’ response to Covid-19 to safely continue operations. The best suppliers continued the same level of service while also ensuring Covid-19 policies and procedures aligned. This ensured there were always enough technicians to keep mines running.
With the day-to-day inherent risks of tire management, it’s imperative that teams on-site bring an uncompromising commitment to safety. Ask the following to find out if your safety values align:
What’s on their ‘won’t do’ list?
If a tire management partner is prioritizing safety, they’ll likely have guiding principles – ‘golden rules’ that, in the name of safety, they simply won’t violate. An example might be: We will only follow the safe work procedure for dismounting earthmover tires, an everyday process that – in its final moments, as technicians loosen the last two lug nuts – brings incredible inherent risk.
How are tire technicians trained?
Asking about training and standards details gives you a concrete sense of how technicians can perform tasks safely 100% of the time. Make sure you fully understand technician training delivery.
For example, at Kal Tire, technicians undergo 27 months of training as they work toward certification, learning through 300 online safety and technical training modules. Along the way, accredited mentors and assessors provide hands-on instruction and conduct in-field competency evaluations. The demonstrated competency piece is critical to ensuring that teams on-site are following all necessary safety protocols.
What tooling is used to promote safe tire work all around the wheel?
How are they investing in access to tooling that protects technicians from both common and serious risks?
At Kal Tire’s Innovation Centre in B.C., we have designed many tools that increase safety and efficiency and deployed them to teams around the world. For example, the Gravity Assist System, which is a 100% mechanical arm that supports the weight of heavy tools such as a 36-kg torque gun, reducing risks such as pinched fingers, muscle strain and fatigue, and creating a more efficient process.
Even in ‘normal’ operating conditions, reaching productivity targets calls for tire availability and performance, but this last year called for unique considerations. Kal Tire helped customers with their inventory needs by slowing the pace of tires needed on site as operators parked trucks or reduced production because of the pandemic. More inventory was held for customers while their demand decreased, and we continued to work with tire manufacturers to make this as easy as possible for customers.
How will they ensure your trucks are outfitted with the best tire for your needs?
Having the best rubber compound and tread for the application is paramount. If you have an independent supplier that sources from multiple brands and tiers – and you have a partner with the expertise to make the right recommendation – you’re apt to improve tire life, performance and value, depending on your goals.
How can they help ensure access in the event of a shortage?
Tire shortages come in waves, often unexpectedly. Ask a potential partner how they’ll leverage networks and relationships to help ensure you’ll be able to carry on without disruption during a shortage.
Achieving sustainability targets has become a must rather than a nice-to-have for many miners. Ask your partner about their sustainability approach and offerings.
Do they offer retreading as well as repairs?
Retreading extends tire life, lowers total cost of ownership and can also create significant carbon and fuel emissions savings compared to buying a new tire. Ultra Repair, Kal Tire’s process for repairing large injuries to a tire that would otherwise be scrapped, offers similar benefits. Both sustainability solutions also keep casings out of scrap piles.
Do they offer environmental reporting tools?
For many mines, the ability to report on environmental efforts is essential. Kal Tire recently launched its Maple Program, which uses an accredited carbon calculator to track and report on the fuel and carbon emissions that mines have saved by opting to retread or use Ultra Repair, and it will be available in the fall in Canada.
EXPERTISE, STRATEGY & FLEXIBILITY
Mines are becoming much more data driven, and rightly so. Expertise, strategy and flexibility are also critical deliverables, so it helps to understand how they’ll show up everyday at your site.
How far-reaching is their experience?
Understanding the depth of knowledge they’ll be able to draw on at every stage of the tire life cycle will help you evaluate whether they can help you meet your evolving goals.
What tools or processes support a strategy and data-driven approach?
If your partner is using an advanced tire management system, such as TOMS, Kal Tire’s proprietary Tire Operations Management System, you’ll have a team focused on executing your strategy. TOMS automates tire work scheduling and reporting to reduce downtime and inform decisions. It aims to improve planned tire management throughout the life of a tire, from changeouts and rotations to repairs and retreads to inventory, all while connecting to customers’ systems.
In the end, you’ll benefit most from a partner that’s invested in what’s important to your mine operation – and can provide measured results to show how they’ll deliver that to you.
Dave Allan is VP Canada, Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group.