Rental Trends: Solid Tires Growing in Popularity
Compact equipment tires have come a long way since the days when air-filled tires with a swept lug tread pattern was the only choice available for skid steer loaders, wheel loaders and telehandlers. Today, contractors can choose from air-filled, foam-filled and solid tires; there is also a wide variety of tread patterns to choose from.
Manufacturers are creating a new generation of solid tires for compact equipment that will make flat tires on jobsites a thing of the past. It's why rental companies large and small are converting their machines from pneumatic to solid tires.
What's a Flat Tire Cost?
Chances are that within the last year operators working on jobsites with a lot of loose debris lying around have had a flat tire. That flat tire may not cost anything to repair, but it can cost a lot in productivity and delays - and contractors are still on the hook to pay an operator waiting for the machine to be fixed.
Smart rental store managers understand the frustration that contractors experience when a rented machine isn't available on the job. It costs the rental stores money, too. They have to dispatch someone to come out and fix the flat or haul in a replacement machine. This easily fixed problem is pulling their employees away from other projects.
Depending on the job, distance from the place it's rented from and the size of the machine, a flat tire can cost almost a full day of work in downtime. That can really add up.
Solid tires used to only be considered by contractors working in scrap and demolition because older tire models were heavy, didn't provide any kind of cushion for the operator and were limited to only one or two tread patterns.
Today, advances in solid-tire designs has helped them grow in popularity at rental yards, contributing to them catching on among contractors. Driving this trend is the savings realized over the expanded life of the tires. The initial investment for solid tires is more than air-filled tires, but solid tires can last up to 10 times longer. Also, fixing or replacing punctured tires can get costly for the rental store and a contractor.
Operator comfort has also improved through the use of pilot holes, or apertures, on the sidewall. These holes reduce the weight of the tires, as well as improve the ride quality when a machine is under load -two major concerns for operators running a machine with solid tires.
For many rental stores, there were concerns about how contractors would accept the change of converting compact equipment to solid tires - store owners were afraid it would be unpopular and cause them to lose repeat business. However, many rental fleet managers have expressed to MWE's tire experts the opposite reaction from customers. From small privately owned rental stores to national consolidated rental companies, contractor feedback has been positive, and many have gone on to invest in a pair of solid tires for their machines.
The team at MWE has worked with hundreds of rental stores running its popular line of solid tires, and operator feedback has been positive. Contractors' crews have been pleasantly surprised at the level of comfort a quality set of solid tires can provide for operators. Many say that MWE's solid tires deliver the same level of comfort they get from similar air-filled tires in most working environments.
Also, in most applications, the extra weight of solid tires is not an issue for contractors. However, if operators are working in mud or on turf, solid tires aren't going to provide the same level of flotation as air-filled tires. Of course, compact equipment on tracks are an even better option in those environments.
Contractors should always ask about what tread patterns are available on a particular machine. Using an appropriate tread pattern for the working environment will enhance machine performance and operator comfort. The three most common tread patterns used on compact equipment includes a swept lug, a diamond lug and a smooth tire:
· A R-4 tread pattern is the most common design used on skid steer loaders and is best suited for dirt and mud.
· A L-5 tread pattern is used more for hard surface applications. However, if a machine is being used on dry hard surfaces, like at recycling facility, smooth tires provide a longer operating life.
· And, if the equipment fleet is being used in dirt and on hard surfaces, like most rental equipment, rental companies should consider more of a hybrid option, like the MWE Solid HD Skid Steer Tire, which has deep tread lugs for long wear and tapered voids to promote self-cleaning.
As a renter, tire quality isn't likely a concern for contractors. However, they may find that their operators like solid tires and want to invest in a pair of their own fleet, making it important to know what to look for when buying tires.
As with any equipment tire, the quality of tire construction varies widely among manufacturers. There are a lot of different materials used in the construction of a solid tire. Quality tires use a different rubber compound in the middle of the tire than on the outside of the tire. This is done to reduce heat generation, which will extend the life of the tire. Also, a different filler material is used around the rim. Low-cost, or cheap tires, will use materials like newspaper and twine while quality tires will use recycled rubber and nylon. To the typical buyer, there will likely be no difference in appearance. To ensure a contractor is purchasing quality solid tires, look at the weight of the tire - quality tires weigh more.
Rental stores are among the early adopters of solid tires for compact equipment. Those fleet managers understand that their customers' productivity shouldn't be impacted by something as trivial as a flat tire, and there are a lot of added benefits to their company as well. So, it's a win-win for everyone.
Solid tires designs have come a long way in recent years and are growing in popularity. It's time to consult with a knowledgeable compact equipment tire distributor and give them a try.