logging tires

Getting the Most from Your Tires

By Jack Petree

According to Johni Francis, global OTR product manager for Titan International, manufacturer of Titan Tires and the Goodyear Farm Tires forestry line, initially choosing the correct tire and wheel combinations for logging equipment, ongoing visual inspection of the tires throughout the life of the tire, routine tire pressure checks, and operator training are all important pieces of a maintenance program designed to, “Ensure your cost per hour over the lifetime of a tire is the lowest it can be.” Francis says not paying close attention to all aspects of a good maintenance program can, over time, literally cost an operation thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs, downtime, and the premature purchase of new tires.

logging tiresChoosing the Right Tire

Francis asserts that proper selection of tires and wheels when purchasing a machine or buying replacement tires truly is an important part of a maintenance program. “If you do select the correct tire and wheel assembly up front, you’re going to put yourself ahead of the game as far as maintenance goes. Machines are getting bigger and more powerful; they’re expected to do more, to be more productive. We work closely with OEMs and the aftermarket to make sure our tires meet their needs and ensure the cost per hour over the life of a tire is the lowest it can be.”

However, Francis points out that not every setup is ideal for every forest setting. What might be a good solution for one logger or for one situation might not be ideal for another. The setup selected for a machine, he says, has an impact on tire life and productivity.

Conditions

To optimize tire and wheel configurations, the purchaser of a new machine should consider the conditions the machine is likely to operate under and select tires based on those expected conditions.

“Let’s say they’re carrying heavier loads,” says Francis. “Generally the tire that comes from the equipment dealer is not the top-of-the-line tire; it’s usually something they can get at a lower price point just to get tires on that equipment and send it out to the customer.”

He adds, “Often, the customer requires a higher load rating in order to carry the load they’re working with out in the field. Just for example, if someone gets a tire that’s a 26 ply rated tire, and the conditions they’re working in really require a 30 ply rated tire, they are losing an average of about 3,000 extra pounds per tire of load carrying capacity. If you don’t make the upgrade, you will just destroy the tire. That’s something that needs to be taken into consideration.”

It’s the Little things

When it comes to tires, the little things matter. “A forest operation is one of the hardest I’ve ever seen on tires and wheels,” says Francis, adding as often as not it is the small things that end up causing big problems. Operators need to regularly check that valve caps are on tightly and that valve stems are protected from being sheared off during operation and visually inspect tires regularly to assure potential problems are detected before permanent damage is done to a tire.

“When you pay close attention to maintenance, you’re not going to have as many changeovers in the field, and that means less downtime,” Francis emphasizes.

An example Francis mentions is the recommended optimal air pressure, which will differ between tire manufacturers. “Operators need to understand how important it is to have that manufacturer’s recommended air pressure in the tires. Everyone might have a different recommended air pressure based on their own process. Optimum performance requires paying attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

Tire Pressure

Another maintenance issue Francis points to is assuring tire pressures are balanced right to left on the equipment. Tires should always be checked, and if necessary, pressure should be reduced or increased in tandem.

“Mismatched pressure left to right will result in the load being shifted to the tire with less pressure, and that can cause damage prematurely,” he says.

“The operator training aspect of maintenance is second to none in importance,” says Francis. He adds it involves more than just regular visual inspections for issues and making sure tire pressures are maintained. “Maybe the operator wanted a smoother ride, so they let some air out. It’s a really bad practice that reduces the life of the tire, but I’ve seen it happen.”

Routing & Communication

Equipment owners can also save a lot of money for their operation if they train their operators to route carefully, avoiding stumps, debris, and the other things that can cause tire damage.

Says Francis, “Some of these guys can do it in their sleep, but some may need to be reminded from time to time.”

Last, Francis says, “Open lines of communication are important. Titan has a good dealer network out there, and loggers contact us directly all the time. Use the communications network; get questions answered before you buy a tire, not after.”

TimberWest November/December 2013
September/October 2019

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