Though the ongoing extreme weather conditions and the state of various roads across the UK have proven worthy obstacles to success for many fleet organisations, it would appear that another hindrance to profit-making could lie closer to home with the effective maintenance of company vehicle tyres.
As figures from a study of 33,861 compounds, conducted by ARI Fleet UK shows, approximately one in four tyres were prematurely replaced as a result of poor care and maintenance.
Of this group, the study found that an astonishing 1,164 tyres were replaced because they fell below the legal minimum for having 1.6 mm of tread across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyres and the entire circumference.
In addition to this, the research found that 2,312 tyres had to be replaced because of sidewall damage, while 1,856 suffered from uneven tracking and 1,131 had irregular wear issues.
And in each of these instances, the problems identified by the study could well have been fixed had the driver or fleet manager simply sent the vehicle in question in for an MOT check or some simple tyre repair and maintenance work.
Commenting on the findings, ARI Fleet UK head of operations Richard Minshull urged fleet operators to be more vigilant of any potential issues, which can have a significant impact on cost controls within a fleet business.
"The biggest cost facing companies is drivers and too often managers and directors are failing to implement measures to manage them [tyres] effectively," he explained.
And one of the most common issues identified as a leading cause of compound problems was under-inflation.
When a standard fleet tyre is used while under-inflated, the contact patch of the compound is significantly reduced to just two small areas located around the edges of the tread.
Apply the full weight of a vehicle and its load to these areas and the result is a significant increase in the level of wear seen during the average journey.
As the ARI Fleet UK figures show, this can result in a significant reduction in lifespan for the average compound.
Running a compound at around 80 per cent of the recommended pressure for instance, can result in a 25 per cent reduction in tyre life. Drive a tyre on 60 per cent of the recommended pressure, and this proportion falls to 65 per cent.
In addition to wear, the use of under-inflated tyres can also result in an increase in fuel consumption, with compounds that are just 10psi under the recommended pressure level resulting in a 2.5 per cent increase in petrol use.
“The regular checking of tyre tread and pressure and overall condition should be a key feature of all corporate risk management policies and procedures," he said.
"The failure of drivers to check tyres, at least monthly and ideally every time they fill up with fuel, could have disastrous consequences."
With any serious accident as a result of poor vehicle roadworthiness resulting in significant fines for the firm involved, it seems that fleet firms are under increasing pressure to check the pressure and tread of their tyres.
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Posted by Ensuring tyres undergo proper checks and are correctly inflated could save haulage firms significant sums