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Construction Best practices 26.05.20

Construction tire basics: 10 facts everyone should know

Whether you’re new to the construction tire industry or an old-timer, we’ve gathered some interesting facts to keep in mind if you’re seeking tire solutions, need tips on maintenance and preventive measures, or simply want to learn all about construction tires.

What are the three basic requirements you must take into account when seeking a tire solution?

There are three basic elements to cover when speaking with your dealer:

  1. Tire size: There are multiple equivalences for tire dimensions, which vary with machine size or make, as well as tire technology. Ensure you’re seeking the right fitment for your construction equipment!
  2. Tread pattern: Understanding your application will help you establish the best pattern for your machine: What surface type are you working on? How severe is the surface? Does your application require soft-surface traction or wear resistance, or both?
  3. Technology (or tire construction): Each tire construction has its pros and cons. Whether you’ll need bias, radials, solids, foam-filled or even airless will depend on your machine and application, but also on the overall usage, work hours and cycle.

Keep in mind that these are not exclusive. Many other components must be taken into consideration depending on your equipment and application, but these three requirements are a good way to start!

What information can you find on the sidewall of your tire?

The sidewall of a tire is a great source of information and can help when looking for a replacement tire. Typically, the common information you’ll find includes tire size, brand, product name and type, load and inflation indications, safety procedures, and serial number.

Which tire size should be used for replacement tires?

OEM-recommended sizing should be the first size used for replacement tires. Suitable equivalences should be considered only when OEM sizes are not available. We recommend referring to TRA or ETRTO size charts when deciding on an equivalency.

What is the difference between Ply Rating (PR) and Star Rating (SR), and why don’t all tires show the PR?

Before explaining, it’s worth understanding that the Ply Rating (PR) is applicable only to bias ply tires, while the Star Rating (SR) is for radial tires. Both are used to identify the relative strength of the tire construction (not the actual number of plies—think horsepower). The higher the PR or SR, the more inflation pressure the carcass can handle, which means heavier loads.

What are the Load Index (LI) and the Speed Symbol (SS)?

Loads are identified by the Load Index (LI), a parameter that corresponds to a standardized load capacity for tires. In other words, the LI represents the load a tire can carry at a specific speed.

This speed is identified by the Speed Symbol (SS). Similar to passenger car tires, for some construction tires, more than one SS may be possible for the same LI. This means that one tire may be designed to carry a load X at speed Y, while another tire with the same PR or SR could be designed to carry this load X at speed Z. This is why it’s normally better to refer to both the LI and the SS, as they provide more precise information about the tire than just looking at the PR or the SR. Please note that newer tire sizes are often no longer standardized just with LI and SS.

Technologies

What’s the difference between bias and radial tires?

Simply put, the main difference between bias and radial tires is found in the carcass, what’s used to reinforce the rubber from the inside. A bias (diagonal) tire is composed of a superposition of crossed nylon sheets. The top and flanks are interdependent. A radial tire is composed of a flexible carcass arranged radially and of a metal belt to stabilize the tread. The work of the flanks is therefore independent of that of the tread. Both have pros and cons, but typically, radial tires offer more life, better tread impact resistance, better ride quality, more traction and better heat resistance, while bias tires are more affordable, offer better stability and have more sidewall puncture resistance.

What are solid (or pneumatic-shaped/airless) tires?

While radial and bias tires are both pneumatic tires (they are inflated with air), solid tires are 100% filled with rubber. This technology is ideal for heavy-duty and extreme applications with high puncture risks, such as scrapyards and waste/recycling, or for applications where unpredicted downtime is simply not an option (interdependence of machine, tight project delay, high labour cost, remote application, etc.). Solid tires are maintenance-free if used in the right conditions: all they require is prudent tire rotation to ensure even wear and optimize tire life.

What’s the difference between tread patterns?

Multiple tread patterns are available to offer better performance given the application you’re working in. According to the equipment, the patterns might be standardized (L2, L3, L4, L5), which makes comparison easier. But some other patterns might require looking at different components to understand. Here are three things that are worth looking at to help you in your tire design selection. First, the direction of the pattern will provide a better idea of the performance it’s addressing. While directional lug type patterns are typically better for soft-surface tires, non-directional zigzag-type patterns tend to provide better performance for mixed-to-hard surface. Second, the lug-to-void should help you get the right pattern for the job: the more void your pattern has, the more off-road traction you’ll get. The downside of larger void means an increased risk of tread puncture. On the other hand, a 100% lug tire (smooth tread) will provide great wearing performance but will slip everywhere else than on dry concrete or asphalt. Lastly, the lug depth (or original tread depth—OTD) is another good indicator of the performance you’ll get. Although many more factors can be taken into account for tire performance, the lug depth may be an indicator of overall life performance. It may also give you that extra traction required to get out of mud or other soft surfaces. That being said, many components come into the equation, making it a bit more complex: some visible factors, like tread steps and curved lugs, but more importantly some that are not visible, like the quality of the material and the compound used. Your dealer remains your best ally to help determine which tire is right for you. Your main task is to know where and how the tire is used.

Maintenance

Why is inflation pressure (IP) so important?

Inflation pressure (IP) is the most important maintenance criterion because it has the greatest impact on tire wear. Too many people use the max IP as the regular pressure. Make sure to use the recommended inflation pressure according to the load of your machine, the application and travel speed. This will optimize the life and overall performance of the tire. It is highly recommended to regularly check inflation pressure when servicing construction equipment. IP may have an important impact on yearly cost of tires, can increase productivity (uptime) and helps minimize safety risks.

What can I do to extend my tire life?

Very rarely a tire will provide the exact same tire life performance, because there are so many factors in predicting tire life. The good news is that there’s a lot to do to optimize the life of your tire. Most of it is application- and equipment-specific, but here are six general tips that you can use to enhance the life of your tires:

  1. Select the right tire for your application and usage
  2. Don’t mix different tire constructions, tread depths and designs
  3. Always respect inflation pressure, load and speed recommendations
  4. Regularly check inflation pressure and adjust accordingly
  5. Inspect your tires and remove objects (rocks/debris) stuck between lugs
  6. Proceed to regular tire rotation

Little bonus: a proper and careful driving behaviour may have a positive impact on tire life.

Also, keep in mind that there are many factors over which we have limited to no control that have an impact on wearing performance. The main three uncontrollable factors are:

  • The surface type you’re working on (asphalt, concrete, mud, snow, etc.)
  • The conditions of the terrain (slopes, curves, distance, holes)
  • The temperature (steel mill, region of the world, rainy)

We truly hope this article will help you better understand the importance of tires in the construction world. As they support the machine and its load, absorb shocks, transfer traction and breaking forces to the road surface and allow steering into the desired direction, tires are a key component to improve productivity of operations while ensuring uptime, machine performance, and safe operations. To learn more about our Camso Construction solutions, visit the tire section of our website. Should you have further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to a dealer in your area: they are your best ally!