State bans on lead highlight importance of tire and wheel maintenance

Fleet owners that utilize fleet maintenance software programs can leverage these tools to reduce operational costs. A variety of external factors affect the kind of equipment used on heavy-duty trucks and other vehicles. Both federal and state regulations often require businesses to follow specific maintenance procedures to ensure maximum safety on roadways. Similarly, weather also influences the kind of tires and brakes needed to safely transport products and services. For instance, wet or icy roads require high-quality braking devices - more so than in dry conditions.

State regulators ban the use of lead weights
As a part of ongoing efforts to improve the safety of U.S. highways and interstates, many state governments have taken their own measures to reduce the number of accidents on an annual basis. According to Trucking Info, an online industry publication, at least six separate states in the U.S. have bans in place in regard to the use of lead weights to improve wheel balance on heavy-duty vehicles. As a result, fleet owners that conduct business in California, Illinois, Maine, New York, Vermont and Washington run the risk of costly fines for being caught operating trucks that carry lead weights. Other states have restrictions on these tools instead of flat-out bans. Regardless, these issues highlight the many issues facing businesses that are interested in keeping their transportation costs as low as possible - especially during the end of the year, in which companies of all sizes are often over-tasked with delivery assignments.

On the internal end of the spectrum, fleet managers may also run into difficulty incorporating alternative weights into their maintenance responsibilities. The the use of non-lead alternatives often requires an entirely different installation process that may have an effect on the efficiency of management operations.

"Because lead is soft and malleable, it was easy to clip to the wheel and hammer into place with a good precise fit," Scott Flynn, director of sales at the wheel weight manufacturer Plombco, toldTrucking Info. "Steel and zinc are too hard to install in the same fashion, so the design of the clip and matching it to the shape of the rim flange is a larger concern than it once was."

Fleet maintenance software's long-term benefits
Keeping vehicles up to speed with not only new rules and regulations, but also the latest technology, can have positive impacts on overall operational costs. For example, selecting the right tires for heavy-duty trucks can result in significant fuel savings in the long run, according to the tire manufacturing company Bridgestone. Many fleet owners now incorporate these fuel-efficient alternatives as a central element of overall conservation initiatives.

With comprehensive equipment maintenance software programs, managers gain better control over costs associated with time, labor and parts necessary to fix vehicles. These tools can make it easier to organize and schedule maintenance activity, and they automatically notify managers when specific work needs to be performed.

Tasks such as balancing tires and wheels on fleet vehicles are necessary for ensuring safety and fuel efficiency. With the help of advanced software, businesses of all sizes can reap the full benefits of a well-maintained fleet.

"If you don't currently balance, or only balance the tire and wheel at installation, the direct cost is about the same as a set of our balancing rings," Robert Coolidge, president of the weight manufacturer CentraMatic, told Trucking Info. "When you consider the time and labor savings at installation and the reduced tread wear and reduction in driver complaints over the life of the truck, maybe 4 to 10 years, the savings are hard to ignore. And there's fuel savings, too."