The ultimate key to tire life

MINING operators who are dealing with limited supply can keep their machines operating by taking an easy, yet often overlooked step - taking better care of their tires.

Donna Schmidt

Published in the August 2007 American Longwall Magazine

Well-maintained tires can increase profits because machines operate longer and increase productivity. Properly maintained tires also help improve safety.

According to Michelin Earthmover Tires surface and underground mines manager Eduardo Santillanez it's more important than ever to take care of tires due to the industry capacity constraints versus the continued high level of demand. Santillanez said Michelin had worked hard to help its customers maximize tire life and extract the full value of their tire assets.

There are several steps customers can follow to maximize tire life. The most important one, according to Michelin, is following a recommended tire maintenance schedule. "Other steps that are often overlooked include making sure machine operators are properly trained and that potential hazards around the worksite are minimized. These steps will make a big difference in maximizing tire life," Santillanez said.

Michelin suggests routine tire inspections by the customer or service provider to help make sure tires are properly inspected and corrective actions are taken.

Operators need to follow basic rules:

  • Check tire pressures regularly (if tires are air filled) with a pressure gauge and always at the beginning of a work shift to obtain and maintain accurate pressure readings.
  • Always have valve caps in place.
  • Ensure tire rims are in safe working condition.

There are two ways operators can get the most out of their tires: routinely evaluating tire wear and rotating and matching tires accordingly.

The tread and the sidewall should also be inspected for signs of cutting, chunking, penetration and tearing. Look for operating conditions causing these damages and seek solutions to minimize future damages.

Another important element affecting tire life is ground conditions. Well-maintained grounds can extend the life of a tire.

There are two areas to look at when evaluating tire wear: the tread and the sidewall. Look for signs of cutting, chunking, punctures, and rubber tearing. This will help determine if the tire is properly inflated and-or matched to the application. Also, measure the tread depth weekly or monthly by using a ruler or tread depth gauge to determine the average wear rate. Compare this wear rate to other tires and machines.

"If proper tire maintenance is not a priority, operators could reduce tire tread life, increase the likelihood of tire-related failures, reduce a machine's productivity and unnecessarily cost their company money. Not only do you have to pay to repair or replace the tire, but you also lose the productivity of a machine during unscheduled downtime, which also costs a company money," Santillanez said.