Category Archives for "Truck Tyres"

Truck Tyres

Real-time truck tyre pressure monitoring is here with Goodyear (almost)

The Goodyear TPMS could have multiple benefits for fleet operators

One of the bugbears of fleet managers is wear and tear on truck tyres. One of the most common causes of extra wear and tear on a tyre is running at incorrect tyre pressure, which also causes handling and safety issues and harms fuel consumption. All these benefits of maintaining the correct pressure in a truck’s tyres are well known. Yet doing so remains difficult.

It’s hard to check tyre pressure on trucks that are constantly on the move. When they are parked long enough for pressures to be checked, it’s not an easy job. Getting to the valves can cause new leaks that cause new problems.

All these issues may disappear soon. Goodyear & Dunlop Australia are currently trialling their real-time Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and indications are that it will be introduced as a service later this year.

How does the real-time TPMS work?

Goodyear’s system uses sensors on each wheel. These transmit pressure and temperature information every two minutes to a telematics box on the truck.

The telematics box transmits this information via mobile networks to a cloud-based server. This is where the magic really works. The information is crunched, and Goodyear applies a set of algorithms to it. These tell the system if an issue has occurred, so that the fleet manager can decide if action must be taken. This should prevent truck tyre issues becoming bigger problems.

The system doesn’t simply consider the tyre pressure. It also considers the effect that the temperature of the tyre has on tyre pressure.

What difference does the TPMS make to a fleet?

When drivers and technicians make manual tyre pressure checks, it is impossible to accurately allow for the effect of temperature on tyre pressure. While these changes in pressure may be small, they could signal a leak. Having this advanced warning, especially from trucks that are on the road and in motion, could help to prevent more costly repairs, the need for new tyres, or, in extreme cases, life-threatening accidents.

Making a repair to a small leak puncture could prolong a truck tyre’s life by several thousand kilometres, as well as that of the partner tyre in dual applications.

Alerts from the TPMS can also prevent the need for dangerous roadside repairs. When the system tells a fleet manager that there is an issue, time can be allotted to make the repair in the depot or at a tyre specialist’s shop. This early warning and prompt action also helps to prevent further damage to the tyre.

The TPMS alerts also provide information about other issues, such as uneven loading or problems with the brakes.

When will the Goodyear real-time TPMS go live?

The trials being carried out by Goodyear are proving very promising, with issues being discovered within minutes with pinpoint accuracy. While fewer than 1% of tyres being tested have needed urgent attention, the ability to know exactly which tyre and where on the tyre an issue exists is proving to be a big benefit to users.

The success to date has prompted Goodyear to announce that they will exhibit the system at the Brisbane Truck Show from 16th May 2019, and it is expected to be offered as a commercial service later this year. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we know for certain.

For all your tyre needs, contact Darra Tyres – we’ll see you right.

Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,

Kevin Wood

tread-wear-on-truck-tyres-tell-a-fleet-manager

What does the tread wear on truck tyres tell a fleet manager?

5 types of tread wear and how to correct them

Your fleet depends on their tyres. The more wear they suffer, the more fuel your trucks will use. Irregular tread wear makes handling more difficult and lengthens braking distances, and this makes your trucks less safe – risking the lives of drivers, other road users and pedestrians.

What causes irregular tread wear?

There are many reasons tyres wear irregularly. On steering axles, you’ll often find that tyres wear more on one shoulder (most commonly the nearside shoulder) as road cambers, cornering, and roundabouts take their toll.

On drive axles, tyres tend to wear faster on the inner edge of inner tyres. Under- or overinflation also causes irregular tread wear, as does a poor wheel alignment.

5 types of tread wear and how to correct them

Here are the five types of irregular tread wear that your truck tyres might suffer, with likely cause and corrective measures you should take.

1.    Tread wear in the centre

If your tyre tread is worn along the centre of the tyre, the most likely cause is overinflation. However, it may also be caused by mismatched tyres and rims, or by the high torque on drive axles.

Make sure that the correct tyres are applied for the rims used, and ensure that the tyre pressure is adjusted to the recommended pressure according to location and load.

2.    Tread wear on both shoulders

This may also be caused by incorrect matching of tyres and rims, but is more likely caused by underinflation.

Once more, check to ensure the tyres and rims match, and adjust inflation pressure accordingly.

3.    Tread wear on one shoulder

Should a truck’s tyre tread be worn on one shoulder, there are several possible causes:

  • Excessive toe or camber, caused by misalignment
  • Non-parallel axles
  • Bent axle
  • Incorrect tyre and wheel assembly
  • Severe operating conditions

In this case, it is important to identify the cause of the tyre wear and correct any mechanical faults. If the tread wear is not too severe, it may be possible to turn the tyre on the rim.

4.    Tread wear is diagonal

Diagonal tread wear also has many possible causes:

  • Dismounting of tyre and wheel assembly to the trailer
  • Mismatched twins
  • Driving at high speed when empty
  • Improper bearing adjustment
  • Toe-out alignment

Identify the fault that is causing the irregular tread wear, and correct it. If the wear is not too severe, the tyre may be turned on the rim. If the tyre wear is caused by driving style, some driver education will be necessary.

5.    Tread wear is in flat spots

Flat spots on the tyre are usually caused by poor driving technique, with sharp braking causing wheels to lock and wear quickly in patches. However, it may also be that the truck’s braking system needs adjusting – for example, locking brakes may be caused by the incorrect adjustment of trailer brake controls.

Drivers should be reminded of driving technique and to avoid harsh braking, and braking systems should be checked and corrected.

Turning the tyre on the rim

Turning the tyre on the rim can extend the life of a tyre and reduce tyre costs. However, it must be done early enough so that wear is equalised. If the difference in the tread is 3mm or greater between shoulders, you should turn the tyre.

Wear on the sidewall could also be a sign that the tyre should be turned. If the lettering or sidewall indicator is disappearing, you should have the tyre checked to ensure that it is safe to turn.

At Darra Tyres, we provide a 24/7 commercial outside service, outside fitting, and truck callout service, in addition to our on-site services. To discover why so many businesses in Brisbane put their faith in our technicians, contact Darra Tyres today.

Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

Death-by-truck-tyre-–-why-Brisbane-firms-should-use-tyre-specialists

Death by truck tyre – why Brisbane firms should use tyre specialists

Keep your workers safe and your firm financially fit

If there is one thing that Brisbane businesses must do, it is to keep their workers safe. It’s not only the law, it’s good business practice. Ensuring you use tyre specialists to fix and fit tyres to your trucks is a good move. It could save you tens of thousands in fines and injury compensation claims, and your people will thank you for keeping them safe.

Wheels and tyres – an explosive combination in the wrong hands

They may appear to be inert, inanimate objects, but in the wrong hands, tyres and wheel rims can morph into highly explosive devices. Between 2012 and 2017, there were 17 cases of tyre and rim explosions reported to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Eight of these led to hospitalisation. One caused a death.

It’s clear that such accidents can cause a loss of productivity. They can reduce morale in the workplace and workers’ confidence in management. They can drastically alter lives, working relationships, and family bonds. They can ruin reputations and cost a small fortune in compensation and fines.

How much could poor tyre maintenance cost you in Queensland?

Between 2012 and 2017, there were five companies prosecuted for such tyre maintenance accidents. There were also 21 compensation claims paid to workers for tyre explosions. The law says that a company can be fined as much as $10 million for such an offence. Individuals can be jailed for up to 20 years. And the courts are getting tougher. Fines are increasing:

  • In 2008, a worker was left with a fractured jaw and lacerations when a tyre exploded while being inflated. The company was fined $8,000.
  • In 2007, a company was fined $50,000 when a worker was struck by an exploding wheel and tyre that he was working on. The worker was killed.
  • In 2012, a tyre exploded and left a worker with a broken nose, thumb and arm. The worker also required surgery for lacerations. The company was fined $50,000.
  • In 2014, two workers were injured while fitting and inflating a tyre on a truck. The rim was damaged, and this helped cause the tyre to explode. The company chose to avoid prosecution by entering into an enforceable undertaking with a minimum payment of more than $207,000.

The trajectory of fines and payments shows that it probably won’t be long before a company that is found negligent in its tyre maintenance procedures is fined a million dollars and more.

How do you prevent tyre maintenance accidents?

Because truck tyres are bigger than other tyres, the danger of them exploding is magnified. In October last year, a worker was killed when he was trying to weld a leak in it while it was still pressurised. The tyre exploded, killed him instantly, and burst through the roof before it landed 23 metres away. Here are some tips to make sure you avoid a similar accident:

  • Never work on a wheel with a pressurised tyre mounted on it.
  • Always remove a tyre from the rim if you are working on the rim.
  • Among specific rules and regulations, you must ensure that:
    • A safe working system is in place
    • The wheel is properly inspected for damage and wear and tear before fitting tyres
    • Tyres are properly inspected for defects
    • You have identified potential tyre explosion trajectory zones, and these are kept clear while tyres and wheels are being worked on
    • The air hose is long enough to allow workers to remain outside of this exclusion zone
    • A remote dump valve is fitted to allow rapid deflation in an emergency
  • Ensure the wheel is adequately secured before inflating. Use of a tyre cage will prevent the tyre from being ejected, should it explode.

The most important piece of advice we can give, and which is also a point of health and safety law in Queensland, is that workers must be trained and competent to work on wheels and tyres.

For a professional and personal tyre service that you can trust, that will ensure you comply with Health and Safety regulations, keep your workers safe, and help your bottom line numbers, contact Darra Tyres today.

Keeping your family and fleet safe,

Kevin Wood

What does the future hold for truck fleets in 2018 and beyond?

In-cab technology may be the theme of 2018 for truck drivers and fleet managers

While I don’t have a crystal ball, it’s fun to think about what’s happening in the truck industry and how it might affect fleet management in the future. I looked at a couple of these last year when writing about driverless trucks coming to Brisbane and discussing the era of the Executive Truck Driver.

Now, many believe that driverless trucks will never take off. Not me. I think they could be closer than we think. They’re already being used in mines here in Australia, and road trials are taking place, too. However, for commercial fleets, we’re probably three to five years away from driverless trucks on Queensland’s roads. The technology is here, but laws must be changed. Insurance companies must come on board. Then there are the livelihoods of truck drivers to consider, too. Much work is to be done.

But this year, I think that we could see technology playing an increasingly big part of fleet management, as we move towards a driverless truck environment.

5 trends for truck fleets in 2018

1.    Trucks will ‘connect’ with fleet management

Trucks will be equipped with a lot more technology. Every aspect of the truck’s engine and infrastructure will be monitored in real time. Weather, road, and traffic conditions will be transmitted between vehicles, with drivers alerted in real time. Simultaneously, the same information will be sent to fleet managers.

This type of connectivity will begin to prepare drivers and fleet controllers to work in the new environment, where trucks become autonomous and drive themselves.

2.    Fleet managers will have more control

Advancing technology has helped fleet managers have better control over their vehicles for decades. Once upon a time, when a driver left the depot it would be hours before the fleet manager discovered the driver’s progress on the road.

Today, trucks can be tracked. Technology will allow fleet managers to monitor driver behaviours as well as the condition of the truck. It should enable fleets to retrain drivers who have slipped into bad habits and reduce costs incurred because of those bad habits.

3.    Truck drivers’ jobs are going to start changing

Truck drivers will need to adapt their working practices to encompass new in-cab technologies. Cabs are likely to become more like aeroplane cockpits, with bells and whistles alerting the driver to engine and truck issues, as well as road conditions ahead of them. They will need to interpret data received from other fleet vehicles and take remedial action to ensure their truck keeps moving.

4.    Fleet managers will become data crunchers

Technology advances will make more data available, and fleet managers will need to learn how to analyse and interpret the information that is flooding into the central system hub. New ways of working will, therefore, affect controllers and managers as well as drivers.

Effective analytical skills should enable fleet managers to manage fleets to increase efficiency. Fuel costs should be reduced, and delivery times cut. Vehicles should be safer on the roads.

5.    Fleet safety will become a technology issue

Fatalities in the haulage industry are still too high. It is one of the reasons why the industry is embracing driverless technologies. Before we get to this nirvana, increased technology is likely to become not just accepted, but expected. We already have safety features in trucks (such as lane departure alarms and rear view cameras). Expect more technology in trucks as the industry strives to increase safety on the road and eliminate accidents and fatalities.

The future of fleets is being created in 2018

Some fleets we work with are already embracing the newest technologies. Without a doubt, these technologies are changing the way that fleets work. Driver safety is already being positively affected, as technology reduces human error.

As autonomous, driverless trucks enter the industry and become commonplace in the future, the jobs of truck drivers will change. Many will probably disappear. But the success of autonomous trucks may depend on the success of the technological advances in trucks’ cabs and fleet management in 2018 and 2019.

A certainty is that changes are on their way. 2018 could be the year when we see the fastest change yet in fleet management. It could be the year that sets the scene for a move towards driverless trucks on our roads within a few years.

To find out about our comprehensive services for truck owners and fleets, contact Darra Tyres. Never be stranded on roads in and around Brisbane again – even when most of your trucks are driverless.

Keeping your business and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

How truck fleet managers can reduce the top cause of breakdowns in Queensland

A truck tyre strategy for every day and roadside emergencies

In studies across Australia and around the world, tyres are the number one reason trucks break down while on the road. In this article, you’ll find out how you can reduce tyre issues while your truck is on the road, and what to do if you do break down on the roads around Brisbane and Queensland.

Cutting costs is a top priority for Australian truck fleets

It’s likely that your fleet is already investing heavily in cutting costs.

However, the competitive and cost benefits of modern technology and new working routines will be lost with truck breakdowns. So why do they happen, and what could they cost you?

What could a roadside breakdown cost you?

A roadside breakdown often triggers a domino topple of costly actions. You may need your truck to be towed. There will be downtime. You will probably have to dispatch another truck. You have a driver with wasted hours.

And the money saved by platooning a convoy could be a drop in the ocean compared to the damage a single truck breakdown within the convoy could cause: dozens of missed deliveries or pick-ups, and a previously unblemished reputation shattered. You could lose customers.

How likely are tyres to be the cause of roadside breakdowns?

Tyres are the number one cause of truck breakdowns on the roads, but just how much more likely is your truck to suffer a tyre issue than any other while on the road?

The most telling data available comes from FleetNet America. They compiled data from 60,000 truck repair vendors across the United States, over a five-year period. The research found that one in four roadside truck breakdowns was because of tyre problems. Tyres cause roadside problems twice as often as brakes.

What a difference it could make to your fleet costs and efficiency if you never had a tyre failure, or when you did, it was dealt with more quickly.

Use a strategy to help your tyres last longer

Improved maintenance procedures should help to reduce tyre problems on the road. In our blog post ‘Truck tyres in Brisbane – tyre management strategies that slash costs’, we detailed a 7-step fleet tyre management strategy to cut tyre costs:

  1. Purchase the best tyres that fit the required purpose
  2. Track truck tyres from day one
  3. Delegate responsibilities
  4. Create a tyre maintenance policy and set out procedures
  5. Carry out regular tyre cleaning
  6. Decide on a tyre replacement and buying policy
  7. Analyse why tyres have been scrapped

With a comprehensive tyre maintenance strategy in place, the occurrence of tyre failures while your trucks are on the road should drastically reduce. But there will still be occasions when even the best tyre maintenance program can’t stop a tyre failure on the road. How you handle this could be the difference between retaining and losing customers.

Your on-the-road tyre emergency plan

Before your trucks leave the depot, make sure that your drivers are prepared for a tyre failure on the road:

  • Ensure that mobile phones and radio systems are fully charged and that drivers have fully charged spare batteries onboard
  • Drivers should have contact details for all customers on their route – phone numbers, email addresses, and social media accounts – to warn them of altered delivery times as soon as they can
  • Routes should be checked for accidents, roadworks, and other obstacles (e.g. weather) before leaving the depot
  • Check that the truck is fitted with emergency equipment, including jacks, fire extinguishers, food and water
  • Emergency numbers of 24/7 roadside maintenance and repair services

While prevention is always better than cure, it pays for your truck fleet to be prepared for all eventualities.

To find out about our comprehensive services for truck owners and fleets, including our 24/7 truck and commercial mobile service – covering Queensland from south of Southport to north of Warana and east of Laidley – contact Darra Tyres today. Your fleet should never be stranded on roads in and around Brisbane again.

Keeping your business and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

The era of the Executive Truck Driver is upon us

Why driverless fleets could need highly paid specialist truck drivers

Truck fleet owners are getting serious about driverless trucks. The benefits are obvious. Fuel costs and driver salaries combined make up almost two-thirds of a fleet’s cost base. Autonomous trucks will remove the need for almost all drivers, and allow ‘platoons’ of trucks to drive within just a few metres of each other. Fewer drivers will slash salary spending, and ‘platooning’ cuts fuel costs by up to 10%.

The truck industry is one of the most dangerous in Australia, with 15 times the number of deaths among drivers as there are among employees in other industries. Automated truck technology promises to improve safety levels.

Driverless platoons are forecast to hit Australia’s roads by 2025. Where will this technology leave today’s truck drivers? Will truck drivers become redundant overnight?

Truck driver jobs will be lost, but the impact may be less than expected

At the end of May, the International Transport Forum said that autonomous vehicles would reduce freight costs, slash exhaust emissions, and improve road safety. The cost of these benefits, it said, would be seen mostly on driver jobs. It expects between 50% and 70% of truck driver jobs to be made redundant. Such job losses in Australia would need to be managed, but may not impact truck drivers as much as they might expect.

The freight market in Australia is expected to grow by 26% over the next ten years. If this transpires and there will be no change in the way that truck fleets are operated, this would create a need for another 25% more driver jobs across the country. By dovetailing the introduction of driverless technology with the increase in freight, job losses wouldn’t hit so hard. Also, there will be retirements which will also reduce the technological impact. Some drivers will decide to move to other industries.

In summary, while the International Transport Forum may be right about the scale of truck driver jobs lost, the impact on drivers currently in the industry is likely to be a lot less than they might think.

In Australia, truck drivers will have new opportunities

Driving in Australia is very different to driving in Europe or America. The first place we’re likely to see driverless trucks in convoy is on major roads and highways. As the technology becomes proven, truck fleets will probably seek to extend service to the Australian Outback.

It will present a whole new set of challenges to the technology employed: animals running into the paths of trucks; heat; and roads that are more like farm tracks, taking their toll on engines and tyres.

Truck convoys could be hundreds of metres long. Loads might include livestock, fuel, or hazardous materials. Dust is a problem for other vehicles that want to overtake.

As GPS technology, truck-to-truck cameras and links, road and traffic and truck sensors increase in ability and fleet use, driverless convoys are likely to become the norm.  But a driverless convoy may be a step too far. Enter the Executive Truck Driver.

What might the Executive Truck Driver of the future be?

It’s likely that the lead driver in a driverless convoy will have more responsibility. They’ll have to control the convoy, using in-cab technology to monitor how each truck is performing.

The Executive Truck Driver of the future is likely to be more technologically experienced than the truck driver of today, and enrol as a multitalented supervisor. They will need to be ready to take control of the truck and pursuing platoon when it’s needed. They will need to obtain information about roads and weather and liaise with customers. They will also control maintenance on the road, and ensure that engines and tyres are in top condition for the journey ahead.

The Executive Driver will need to input reams of data into onboard computers, allowing sensors to adapt to immediate and upcoming conditions and environments. In short, the job of a driver is changing.

How fast will platooning take off in Australia?

The software that will allow trucks to drive together in a close convoy is being tested as I write, and it’s being improved almost daily. Truck manufacturers are preparing for rollout within a couple of years. The truck industry is likely to force through change. Lower fuel and employee costs, as well as better on-road safety, will encourage firms to change sooner rather than later. Uptake of platooning is likely to snowball.

Eventually, it’s probable that most if not all trucks in Australia will be driverless. But as we transition to this state, the best drivers will be required to lead the charge and platooning convoys. And they are likely to be very well paid to do so.

To find out about our comprehensive services for truck owners and fleets, contact Darra Tyres. Never be stranded on roads in and around Brisbane again – even when most of your trucks are driverless.

Keeping your business and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

Are driverless trucks coming to Brisbane?

Are you ready for a trucking industry revolution?

The biggest shake-up in Brisbane’s trucking industry for decades appears to be on its way. Driverless trucks are a topic on which everyone has an opinion.

Some say they’re dangerous, and that they could be prone to accidental damage caused by fallen eucalyptus trees and wayward kangaroos. Others say they simply won’t work in Queensland’s outback, where tech support will be difficult and costly to find.

Supporters say they will save billions of dollars in costs, and that they will eliminate the shortcomings of tired drivers making fatal mistakes.

Despite America being ahead in the race to pass laws and test driverless trucks on the roads, they could become the norm here in Queensland first. In fact, they’re already proving to be a hit in some parts of Australia.

America is racing to be the first country to have driverless trucks…

In America, they are gearing up for driverless trucks on the highways. Congress looks set to pass laws that will push the Department of Transportation to draft regulations for self-driving cars next year. Lawmakers acknowledge that self-driving technology is going to disrupt the way people travel.

However, getting the laws that exempt autonomous vehicles (as they are also known) from some safety requirements written and passed through the system could take years, especially while overhauling industry safety standards. Even so, 20 U.S. states have passed their self-driving car regulations already.

In preparation for nationwide laws to come into force, Daimler has already been licensed to test self-driving trucks on U.S. highways.

Daimler has said that driverless trucks are a decade away from becoming a reality, despite predicted safety and efficiency benefits. But this isn’t because the technology needs to be developed. It’s already there. The hold up in America is because of the legal issues highlighted above.

Australia doesn’t have any laws governing driverless trucks as yet. So, it would appear that we’re behind the game. However, the reality is that driverless trucks in Queensland and other Australian states could be closer than we think.

…Yet self-driving trucks are already working in Australia…

The debate about self-driving trucks is probably making Rio Tinto executives chuckle. They’ve been using them in Australia for almost a decade. And not just any old trucks. Huge great 400-ton beasts, in the harsh conditions of quarries and mines in Western Australia.

Rio has dozens of these driverless trucks working 24 hours each day, hauling iron ore across four job sites. They drive themselves using a combination of GPS, radar, and laser sensors. A team supervises the job they are doing from more than 700 miles away. It’s proving a safer and cheaper way of operating, though if something does go wrong, human help (such as emergency servicing, mechanics, and tyre changes) is a long way away.

…And self-driving trucks could transform Australia’s deadliest industry…

Truck drivers on Australia’s roads are 15 times more likely to die than workers in other industries. Even the Australian Trucking Association has said that self-driving trucks could make the industry safer. And with road freight set to nearly double between 2010 and 2030, there aren’t enough drivers to meet demand.

Geoff Crouch, the chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, believes that self-driving trucks are the future of the industry, but that it won’t be an overnight transition. He believes that the transition will begin with autonomous braking technology as standard in all vehicles before progressing from there.

This said, ‘platooning’ – a convey of autonomous trucks travelling within feet of each other – is being tested in Western Australia this year. The lead truck ‘talks’ to those following, warning of obstacles and road conditions and synchronising speed and braking. By driving so close together, it is estimated that fuel costs can be slashed by as much as 20%.

Of course, truck drivers don’t only drive. They perform other essential tasks, such as loading and unloading, vehicle checks, and customer liaison.

Perhaps this gives a clue as to how driverless truck convoys could work in the future:

  • First stop is for the truck’s technology to remove increasing responsibilities from the driver: the need to brake, plan routes, steer, etc.
  • Once this technology is embedded, then platooning could happen with the lead vehicle manned, and other vehicles driverless.
  • The lead driver will control the fleet, monitoring performance and problems. He or she will oversee loading and unloading, and all the other tasks required of drivers today.
  • Eventually, as other functions become automated, platoons of wholly driverless trucks will become commonplace on the roads of Queensland and Australia. These convoys will be controlled by human intervention hundreds of miles away.

The only question remaining is how mechanical issues are dealt with. That may not change much from today, with services like Darra Tyres’ 24/7 truck call out service dealing with a truck’s tyre problems local to Brisbane. The difference here, of course, is that instead of speaking to the driver, the technician will be speaking to a controller who may not even be on the same continent. Interesting times ahead, we think.

To find out about our comprehensive services for truck owners and fleets, in demand today and prepared for tomorrow, contact Darra Tyres. Never be stranded on roads in and around Brisbane again.

Keeping your business and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

What do truck operators need to ensure success in the new environment?

Is your truck operation prepared to benefit from the retail revolution?

As business conducted online is increasing, the opportunities for truck and haulage companies are growing. That’s great news for truck operators. However, much of the retail growth is likely to be in the ‘fast delivery’ space, where the competition for retailers is fierce. Competitors promise better delivery services.

Consequently, though there are opportunities for truck operators, there are also hurdles that must be negotiated – what happens if your truck breaks down, or you have a tyre blow-out during operations?

Who delivers the retailers’ products?

Very few retailers have their delivery trucks. They don’t do haulage for several reasons. One is it’s not their area of expertise. Cost is also a factor: contracting services are usually cheaper than building and running their own. Instead, they use national and local haulage companies to deliver their products. For example, Amazon mostly uses UPS or FedEx.

It said, smaller operators can be more flexible. Some national haulage companies don’t operate on a Saturday: more opportunity for independents.

How tight is the market for retailers?

It’s likely that more retailers will need to offer more efficient and faster delivery services to meet the competition head-on. The pace of life is increasing, and people are becoming happier to order online rather than spend time travelling to the city, parking, shopping, and then returning home. Time is saved, and aggravation avoided. The delivery cost is deemed good value for money, and so those retailers that deliver to the door promptly are increasing their market share.

If we take this developing market to its natural conclusion, every retailer will offer delivery. If we assume that there is little difference in the quality of goods, then, to beat their competition, retailers will begin to rely on their delivery capability as the differentiator. The faster and more efficient delivery provider will gain market share.

For truck operators in this market, the capability to offer fast, efficient, and reliable services is likely to prove to be a winning formula. But while this business can be very lucrative to the haulage company or owner-driver, there may be penalties for late deliveries written into contracts. The ultimate sanction would be a loss of the contract.

Uptime is a critical factor for a truck owner-driver’s success

There’s not a lot you can do about traffic on the road. You can plan your routes and timings, but a road traffic accident, unexpected roadworks, or other obstruction can cause problems. However, all such issues can be excused – what happened to your deliveries in such circumstances would have happened to others.

But other events won’t be excused by retailers. The worst roadside problems always happen at the most inconvenient times. A breakdown or blown tyre will hamper deliveries, harm your record, and could cost you your living. You shouldn’t hope for the best without planning for the worst.

What today’s truckers need to meet the retail need of tomorrow

If you don’t have emergency breakdown cover, you could be jeopardising your business. Here at Darra Tyres, we’re already beginning to see an increase in the use of our Raid Response service, as the call on truck and haulage operators increases. This service offers a 24/7 emergency breakdown coverage for truck operators, ensuring you get back on the road with minimal fuss and maximum speed. One of the most used features is the tyre repair and replacement service – it’s surprising the toll that Brisbane’s roads can take on a vehicle, its wheels, and tyres.

Your success depends upon uptime. If you don’t choose the right tyres and haven’t got the best roadside service agreement, then you are putting your business at risk. With all these elements in place, your ability as a truck operator will be given a chance to drive your future business success.

Contact Darra Tyres today and make sure you are properly prepared to profit from the retail revolution as it gathers pace in Queensland. Never be stranded on roads in and around Brisbane again.

Keeping your business and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

9 tips to get the best from your off-road truck tyres in Queensland

How to drive safe and sure when you’re off-road

Goodyear’s Wrangler DuraTrac tyre was recently voted the best off-road truck tyre by readers of ‘Off Road’ magazine. It’s the fifth year running that it’s won the accolade, and once more the tyre polled over 20% of the votes from 20,000 readers. Goodyear has now won best off-road tyre in the annual poll every year that the magazine’s readers have been surveyed.

Goodyear’s Chief Marketing Officer for Europe said, “This award is particularly important for us because the readers of ‘Off Road’ magazine are true experts with high demands when it comes to off-road tyres. It shows that the Wrangler DuraTrac lives up to its promises.”

In this article, you’ll learn how to get the best from the Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tyre, or any other off-road truck tyre you buy.

1.    Drive with momentum rather than acceleration

When you’re driving in muddy conditions, or through sand, avoid the temptation to put your foot down on the accelerator. Instead, you should accelerate into the mud or sand and use your momentum to travel, keeping your speed constant. It will prevent your truck tyres from spinning, losing traction, and becoming stuck.

2.    Select the right gear and turn off the ‘diff lock’

It’s best to drive in a lower gear and make your engine work harder when driving through mud or sand. If your truck has a differential lock (a diff lock) make sure it’s turned off. The diff lock makes sure that wheels on the same axle rotate at the same speed. On smooth roads this is great, but off-road you’ll want to allow the wheels to rotate with resistance. A wheel with less resistance will spin faster, and you’ll get more grip.

3.    Don’t fight resistance, and brake gently

As you drive off-road, you’ll come across a range of different terrains. You’ll meet resistance, too. Don’t fight this. Go with the flow. Your off-road truck tyres will find the best route through.

When driving through mud or sand, deflate your tyres a little. It increases the footprint and helps you to accelerate in a lower gear as you build momentum to carry you through. Always accelerate and brake gently.

4.    Plan the course ahead

As you are driving through different terrains, try to plan the course you want your vehicle to take. Rocky outcrops are particularly tough on truck tyres, and sand can hide sharp rocks below. These could slash your tyres and damage your truck. Remember, your tyres will try to find a way through, so don’t fight resistance. Instead, use it to inform your course.

5.    Don’t drown the engine!

When you’re crossing a river or flood, take extra care. You may not see rocks in the water. Sandy bottoms can quickly suck you in. Look at the terrain around the water to figure out what type of river bed you are probably dealing with.

Take note of the flow of water if you are crossing a river. It can tell you a lot about how you should traverse the river, and where you should enter and exit.

Disconnect or jam the fan belt to avoid it damaging the radiator or causing water to splash over your vehicle’s electrics.

Drive at a steady speed, and once clear of the water brake gently to lose water from the brakes. Stop, check the truck over. Look at the engine, gearbox, and axle oil for signs of water. If the oil is a milky colour, it means water has mixed with it. If this is the case, you’ll need to drain the oil and replace before continuing.

6.    Drive with company

It’s always best to make off-road trips with at least two vehicles. If you get stuck, the other vehicle can haul you out (providing you have the right equipment – tow ropes and shovels, for example).

7.    Remember that your company changes terrain

The vehicle in front of you will change the terrain as it passes over it. Rocks get dislodged, and mud and sand become ridged and rutted. Coming out of rivers, banks can become extra slippery. Watch for changing terrain and alter course and momentum accordingly.

8.    Know how to get unstuck

Everyone gets stuck at least once when driving off-road. Here’s how to get unstuck:

  • Don’t panic.
  • Attempt to reverse the way you came, slowly.
  • If this doesn’t work, start digging!
  • Dig around your truck tyres to clear a run-off.
  • Place the mats or branches where you have dug to provide your off-road tyres with extra grip.
  • Use a low gear to creep through, accelerating slowly to build momentum.
  • If you are with company, if it’s possible to do so always have them pull you out.

9.    Buy the very best off-road truck tyres you can afford

Finally, don’t neglect your tyres when planning an off-road trip. Check your tyres before you leave, and make sure they are the best your budget can buy. And, whatever you do, do not neglect your spare.

Contact Darra Tyres today and make sure you are properly prepared to go off-road in Queensland. We have an extensive range of off-road and truck tyres to suit all vehicles and budgets.

Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

7 tips to make your truck tyres last longer in Queensland

Increase value from your truck tyres

Tyres are one of a truck fleet’s largest expenses. Whether your vehicles run long, uninterrupted trips on highways and motorways, or do their business on stop/start routes through Brisbane and along the Gold Coast, Queensland’s road surfaces will eventually take their toll.

These seven tips for taking care of your truck tyres will reduce maintenance needs, cut fuel costs, and lengthen the life of your tyres. They will also ensure your drivers and their loads are as safe as possible on the roads in Queensland.

1.    Give tyres the once-over at every pit stop

A visual inspection of a truck’s tyres should be carried out at every rest break. Early warning of cracks or bulges in the sidewall is essential for safety. Look for sharp objects, and other road debris stuck in the tyre treads, as well as uneven wear and tear.

2.    Take note of tread wear

You don’t need to be a detective to recognise what tread wear is trying to tell you about your truck. During a visual inspection, look for the following wear patterns:

  • Wear on the tyre’s shoulder indicates underinflation
  • Wear through the centre shows the tyre has been driven while overinflated
  • Uneven wear shows that the wheels probably need realigning

3.    Rotate your tyres regularly

Not all wear and tear is even on all truck tyres. Loaded trucks exert different weight on all tyres. Depending on the work and types of loads your fleet hauls, we’d recommend tyre rotation at a maximum of 60,000 to 80,000 kilometres. Tyres on trailers may require more regular rotation. No two fleets are the same, so it’s best to customise your rotation methods and policies to your requirements. We’d be happy to help you decide the optimum schedule and pattern of your fleet’s tyre rotation. (A further tip here is to make sure you alter tyre inflation to the recommended levels every rotation.)

4.    Keep your truck tyres properly inflated

When tyres are improperly inflated, handling, fuel consumption and braking are all adversely affected. Systems like Continental’s latest truck tyre pressure monitoring system work on all brands and ensure a truck’s tyres are optimally inflated at all times. When you use such a system across your entire fleet, you should notice fuel consumption reduce and tyre life lengthen.

For smaller fleets without tyre pressure monitoring systems, drivers and maintenance staff should check tyre pressure regularly, when the tyres are cold.

5.    Align truck wheels regularly

When a truck’s wheels are misaligned, the tyres will wear irregularly. Fuel costs will rise, and tyres will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Handling will also be affected. Check alignment at regular intervals, and every rotation.

6.    Keep truck wheels balanced

Truck tyres are easily thrown out of balance. Damage to tyres is a prime cause of this. A noticeable effect of poor wheel balance is vibrations while driving – which makes handling more difficult, and can affect suspension systems.

When truck tyres are fitted for the first time, they should be balanced correctly. After this, ensure that they are balanced at least once per year, and certainly, if they are repaired. If a driver does experience vibrations, get in touch with the team here at Darra Tyres, and book for an emergency assessment of your tyres. It could reduce fuel costs and, more importantly, save a life.

7.    Always get tyres repaired by professionals

Whether repairing or retreading tyres, the work should be carried out by professional tyre technicians. The team here at Darra carry out complete inspections on truck tyres. We look for damage, patch as required, and when a truck tyre needs replacing, we’ll ensure it is replaced with the best tyre for the job your truck does here in Queensland.

For all your fleet tyre needs here in Brisbane, contact Darra Tyres today.

Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

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