Understanding the Components of Tires & Their Importance to Your Operations


Tires, often underestimated, are crucial for the efficient functioning of numerous construction vehicles. Their remarkable performance stems from two primary aspects: compounding and tread design.

Compounding Rubber compounds, which may appear ordinary and unremarkable, form the foundation of improved tire performance.

In basic terms, compounds are composed of diverse formulaic ingredients that can be adjusted to deliver specific performance advantages, depending on the tire’s intended use, the surface it is designed to traverse, and other factors.

A standard construction tire’s crown area can contain up to 4 to 6 compounds, beginning at the tread and extending down to the tire carcass. It is critical to consider how these compounds interact with each other during tire operation.

Construction vehicles navigate demanding surfaces, often littered with rocks and other debris that can penetrate tires. Consequently, construction tires need to be durable and cut-resistant to withstand the considerable amount of scrubbing caused by continuous contact with extremely abrasive surfaces.

To attain these properties, some tire manufacturers incorporate a higher percentage of carbon black filler, which provides reinforcement and imparts the characteristic tire color. Tires with compounds containing more carbon black filler generally exhibit greater abrasion and cut resistance.

Tread Design Construction vehicles frequently traverse various surfaces, such as loose gravel, slippery mud, and dry, compacted dirt, all within the same shift. This makes traction a vital performance attribute. In construction applications, one method to improve traction is by utilizing tires with deeper, more aggressive tread patterns. The term “net to gross” is sometimes employed by tire suppliers to describe this concept.

Tires with higher net-to-gross typically have more open tread patterns for improved traction, whereas those with lower net-to-gross have fewer open patterns, often resulting in lower traction levels.

The required tread depth and traction can be influenced by the type of machine and anticipated underfoot conditions, meaning the material composition beneath your tires. For instance, an articulated dump truck operating on softer surfaces will generally need a tire with less tread depth.

However, a tire with a deeper tread depth may be more suitable for a vehicle traversing harsher surfaces. When unsure about tread depth, patterns, or compounds, always consult an authorized commercial tire dealer. A knowledgeable dealer can help you assess your equipment’s requirements and underfoot conditions, providing appropriate recommendations for each piece of machinery.

While evaluating your equipment needs, do not neglect the tire’s sidewall, which significantly impacts equipment stability. Generally, a stiffer sidewall provides greater stability. Tire manufacturers may increase a tire’s sidewall stiffness by enhancing its thickness, modifying its compound, and/or adding reinforcements. Moreover, ensure that tires are not mismatched around the vehicle. For optimal performance, maintain consistent diameters, tread patterns, tread depth, and tire construction (radial or bias) across all axles. This straightforward yet effective practice can help decrease tire wear frequency and rate.

Choosing tires with suitable compounds and tread design is only one aspect of the performance equation. Tires in service require regular maintenance. Inspect your tires’ inflation levels at least once a day or, ideally, before each shift. Prevent both under- and over-inflation, as both can hinder tire performance. Additionally, inspect tires for visible signs of potential issues, such as nicks and cuts. A qualified tire professional can assist in addressing these concerns. By adhering to the above principles, you can optimize your tire investment and, consequently, enhance the efficiency of your overall operation.

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