Basics. Yup, I said it again, BASICS! I am a big fan of the power of basics when it comes to sports, weekend DIY projects, safety….and data. But don’t be fooled, just because a task is basic, or the required response is basic,it doesn’t always mean the solution is easy. You thought I was going to say basic again didn’t you?
In just the last month, Revvo has collected data from over 20 million tire rotations, every single rotation of a tire, data is collected — it’s A LOT of data. Of course, Revvo captures data when tires are at rest too. Pump the brakes here for a second, rather than jumping into details of the data we’ve collected and chatting about tables, charts, graphs, and trends we have seen, let’s not lose track of the purpose of this blog — basics!
So, what are the basics I speak of….in this case, taking action on low tire pressure conditions. Putting my fleet manager hat back on, the first thing that comes to mind is “Service Level Agreements” (SLA). For those of you not familiar with this term, it’s fairly simple and I really like the way RTA Fleet Management described this, it is an “agreement which outlines services provided and the expectations of you [Fleet Management] and your customer.”
Assuming your tires don’t suffer any punctures, and ambient temperatures stay the same 24 hours a day, your tires will still lose air to the tune of “1–3 PSI per month.” But we all know that your vehicles will pick up nails or two along the road, and temperatures don’t stay the same. Indeed, tires don’t care about ambient temperatures, or slow leaks, but you should! Whether a tire operates for a few days or a few weeks at lower PSIs, every rotation outside of the ideal cold pressure inflation and operating pressure will contribute to the accelerated degradation of the tire casing.
Interestingly, of the several service level agreements I have reviewed, there is virtually no mention of who is responsible for the general maintenance of tires in between shop visits, specifically, tire inflation. Some agreements do specify that customers need to check tire pressure, but don’t go as far as stating they are required to inflate. When considering the lack of specific instruction as it relates to one of the most expensive line items in a fleet’s budget, it’s concerning. And, let me be crystal clear and transparent here, I also failed to address this issue during my fleet management years.
Having said that, assuming those responsibilities are fully illustrated and defined, the operational challenges start to emerge. Do we have a compressor? Is the compressor mobile? Do we have an air hose, a gauge? And so, back to my original thought in this blog, inflating a tire is simple, in a fleet environment with certain roles and responsibilities passed on to the vehicle users, inflating them is sometimes not so easy.
I challenge you to review your SLAs and customer service agreements. Yes, asking your vehicle users to actually inflate tires and go one step beyond simply checking them may seem like a huge operational nightmare….and the pushback could be enormous. The reality is, those drivers most likely own a vehicle so they know how to check a tire, given the right tools, they should also inflate them. As an organization, it is probably within your right to ask them to inflate a tire if it’s low on pressure, after all, we ask them to put on a seat belt for their safety, why shouldn’t we ask them to inflate a tire with known low pressure?