The topic of tires comes up regularly when it comes to the topic of improving the life of mine operations. Just 5 years ago, many mines were parking trucks because they didn’t have the rubber to replace blow-outs or accommodate new trucks coming in, largely due to the high metal prices and large demand of tires globally. Tires are the platform to any piece of non-track-type mobile equipment, which supports the load of the equipment, controls the direction of travel, absorbs road shocks and provides traction when needed. It is no surprise then that it has a direct correlation to the productivity of the machine, and thus the productivity of your mine. This blogpost is Part 1 of a 3 part series which will discuss the six basic steps to formulizing a program at your mine to extend tire life.
As a side note, I would like to thank my friends at Bridgestone and TDS Tire while I was at Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine for mentoring me; most of the my knowledge of this blog came from them.
1. Tire Selection – Match Tire to Mine
It is important to work with your tire distributor on matching an appropriate tire’s capabilities with your mining environment and requirements. Factors such as tread pattern, radial vs bias, TMPH, rubber compound, etc. should be considered if changes occur at the mine. For example, TMPH/TKPH rating is especially important for mines with a high temperature climate or if you’re changing your haul cycles significantly to more uphill loaded. TAM Tires does a good job of explaining TMPH/TKPH here. Michelin has a good radial vs bias article here.
Also – beware your tire manufacturer may release new rubber compounds that may or may not work better for your mine. Your tire distributor should keep you up to date with this information and with a good record keeping program (coming soon in Part 3 of this series), you should be able to see if there are trends associated with different rubber compounds. It may be true that “beggars can’t be choosers” and now that metal prices are back up from the dark days of late 2008, but at least you have a better idea of what is affecting your tire life and therefore you can budget your tire allocation requirements more appropriately.
2. Regular Tire Inspections and Rotation
“Behind each failure lies an opportunity” – Some Smart Person
This is also true for tires! Your scrap tire pile provides an opportunity to evaluate whether you can improve what you’re doing to improve tire life. For example, tread/shoulder separation could be due to heat damage (reduce speed or find a new TMPH rating tire) or extreme turns (new road design?). Cuts can indicate a poorly maintained loading area or general poor haul road condition (more to come in Part 2 of this series). And lastly, sidewall and bead separately may have resulted from insufficient tire pressure or overloading. Installing a practice to inspect scrap tires quarterly can help you improve the next quarter.
Besides inspecting your scrap pile, also have your operators inspect the tires during their walk-around at the start of shift. Rock damaged tires should be removed when you start to see separation on the top belt or when the steel ply is visible.
Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any comments and concerns. This concludes Part 1 of this 3 part series on creating a program at your mine to extend tire life.
[To be continued...]