Demonstrating the new TrenTyre roadside vehicles at the Kyalami racetrack. Picture: MARK SMYTH
Demonstrating the new TrenTyre roadside vehicles at the Kyalami racetrack. Picture: MARK SMYTH

There might still be 24 hours in a day, but for many people the world seems to be moving faster. We are more connected than ever, people demand more of our time and in the transport world the word downtime is a very much dirty word.

Mobile service vans are not a new thing. Many outsource providers have been using them for decades to help cars and trucks stricken on the side of the road. It might seem like a logical thing for tyre makers to have, but traditionally they have been bricks and mortar operations.

Now Goodyear’s TrenTyre commercial vehicle division has woken up to the idea of fixing or replacing tyres on the side of the road, where they are needed the most. It is the latest step for Goodyear, which since 2015 has invested R1bn in its plant in the Eastern Cape and in new services and facilities.

"Our aim is it to become an agile partner to our clients," says TrenTyre operations director Stephen Smith. That agility will come in the form of up to 100 vans that are fully equipped to handle roadside truck tyre requirements. Known as TruckForce, it is part of Goodyear’s FleetFirst initiative which is already present in 28 European countries looking after 200,000 trucks.

Now it is available in SA and also includes a 24 hour service line and Fleet Online Solutions (FOS), an integrated management reporting suite as well as an app that allows monitoring. It is the first full tyre management solution of its kind in SA, although Bridgestone also has some mobile vans.

"FleetFirst is the way forward for this industry," says Nigel Sowerby, retail and services director Europe, Middle East and Africa at Goodyear.

The vans will be fully equipped to check and replace commercial vehicle tyres at the roadside. Picture: MARK SMYTH
The vans will be fully equipped to check and replace commercial vehicle tyres at the roadside. Picture: MARK SMYTH

Ironically, Sowerby says that "our job is to sell fewer tyres, to more fleets, to drive down the costs and improve their [clients] competitiveness."

The mobile vans are equipped to check and replace tyres, including full balancing and alignment, They will be operated by trained personnel who will also have the benefit of online technology. That tech will allow them to fill out job cards in real time with details of what work had to be completed. It is part of the FOS system, which will be available in SA shortly and which can also be integrated into any existing software tools used by fleet managers.

Why has it taken so long to offer this kind of a service in SA? The delay is simply a matter of security, says Sowerby. The company took the solution to countries that had a lower security risk first, he says.

While the announcement is significant and will have widespread appeal to fleet managers and truck drivers, there will be a downside in that the company is looking at closing some of its TrenTyre depots.

Officially executives would not be drawn on how many depots might close, but a figure of 23 was mentioned by one senior exec.

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