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Yokohama Tires: Because Every Mile Counts

Learn how Yokohama has designed new tires that are lowering costs for fleets, keeping our roadways safe, as well as keeping fleets on the road longer.

Episode 262: We’re at TMC at the Annual meeting in Orlando Florida, and this is the time for us to get together as an industry. The fleets are here, the suppliers are here, and it’s really an opportunity for us to talk about new products.

While at the show, we had an opportunity to meet and talk with Yokohama Tire Corporation about their new tires that are lowering costs for fleets, keeping our roadways safe, as well as keeping fleets on the road longer.

Tom Clauer is the Senior Manager of Commercial Product Planning for Yokohama Tire Corporation.

Tom Clauer is the Senior Manager of Commercial Product Planning for Yokohama Tire Corporation.

Guest Website: Yokohama.com

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to the Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost per mile.

Tom Clauer:

My name’s Tom Clauer. I’m the Senior Manager of Commercial Product planning for Yokohama Tire Corporation.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re at TMC at the Annual Meeting here in Orlando, Florida, and this is the time where we get together as an industry. The fleets are here, the suppliers are here, and it’s an opportunity for us to often talk about new products. Speaking of new products Tom, how does your company approach the development of new products for the trucking industry?

Tom Clauer:

Oh, that’s interesting. We’ve had to develop over the years, new philosophies on how we develop tires because the industry changes so fast nowadays. We’re talking about the electric vehicles, whole different concept. So what we do is we take a good measurement of the market, see where the market’s going.

We try to understand where that market’s going to be in the next four years, five years, six years down the road, and they’re going, it’s kind of like looking through a crystal ball, but we can get a good measure of that by talking to our fleets, talking to our OEs, manufacturers, we get a perception of what direction they’re going, and we try to apply that to our products.

Jamie Irvine:

That makes a lot of sense. I mean, in our industry, when they are planning out vehicles and the truck OEs are getting ready, the trailer OEs, we do have a bit of run time, especially when we’re on the part side of the business. So we get the advantage of seeing both sides of it. Especially a company like yours, you can deal with the tier one OEMs, but you also deal with all the people in the real world with existing equipment. So you get to see what’s going on and how existing products are responding and then what changes are needed.

Tom Clauer:

That’s very true. And to know how our existing products are. Now we look at our competitors, but we also look at ourselves. We got to be introspective. How are we doing? What is the perception of our customers of our products?

I mean, are we meeting the market today or are we going to meet the market tomorrow, Mr. Customer, what kind of trucks are you going to be buying? What kind of equipment are you going to be doing? Are you going to be specking anything different? And based upon what they’re doing, we got to understand that.

We got to get a grasp on that. Luckily, we’re a global company, so we can pull information from our European counterparts, our Asian counterparts, and here in the United States, I’m responsible for both the entire North America, which means Canada and Mexico and the United States. And as you understand, there’s a big difference between all of that. What works in one doesn’t necessarily work in the other.

Jamie Irvine:

When I left home in Canada, it was minus 40 and it’s like 70 degrees here in Florida. Big difference.

Tom Clauer:

Yes indeed. So no, we got to take geography into consideration. We got to take, where’s the industry going? We’re talking about last mile deliveries. That’s a segment that has been on a constant increase over multiple years now. Where is that going? What’s tomorrow look like with that? Is the EV’s going to affect it? Well, how’s that affect our price? We have to be ready for that.

So we’re always taking a measurement every single day out there of what’s going on. I listen to our field guys. I have to listen and understand that I’ll go out and talk to the fleets all the time, whenever I get a chance to talk to fleets. They were the ones that are telling me where we need to go.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, let’s talk a little bit about the different tires that you’re featuring here at TMC. Let’s talk about now, forgive me. So 114R, correct? This is severe duty application?

Tom Clauer:

No, now 114 R is our trailer tire.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. See, I needed your help to get this straight.

Tom Clauer:

There you go. No, it’s a regional trailer tire, and when I say regional it’s got a deeper tread depth. It’s more cut and chip resistance, and we’ve put some special features in, but the main target with that really has been spread axle operations. Spread axle operations are very unique. Depending upon where the load is put at on a spread axle, you end up with either a pivot axle or a sliding axle. One of the two. You always got that. Now on the pivot axle, you end up with it what they call scaling.

It’ll as that tire turns, it will scale and tear at the rubber or the tread rubber on them, the skid axle. Okay. That’s tires basically going sideways. Right. Okay. So what do we need? We needed to do something. Everybody’s been using a steer all position tire on them. The 1230 second, 1330 second tires, they don’t cut it. I mean, they’ll tear them things apart really fast.

Jamie Irvine:

They don’t cut it, they get cut.

Tom Clauer:

That’s true. That’s a true statement. So everybody’s been using the steer all position tire, usually a cut and chip resistant tire. The tires wear out, they get more mileage out of ’em, but they wear out ugly, all chopped up and beat up and that stuff, but they get more miles out of ’em. We decided we needed to get into this segment and really drill into it and figure out what’s going on here. So that’s where our 114 came out. The tire has a cut and chip resistant compound.

The tread has been designed to be able to handle both of those factors, both the scaling and the sliding has been designed for that. But a special feature that we have on it, our outside ribs are rounded and they’re rounded to be able to withstand both of those features. So when a tire starts sliding sideways, instead of having a sharp edge on there where it can catch and tear, this tire’s going to kind of curve over a little bit and it’s just going to round out and go and slide a lot easier.

So a tire’s very, very specifically designed for the spread axle, but with the cut and chip resistance aspects of it and the way the tread has been designed, we’ve got a funnel shaped step groove, keeps the debris from digging in, rocks and stuff to digging in and ruining the casing. It works very good in the regional applications. You got curbs, you’ve got railroad tracks, right? You’ve got, God knows whatever is laying around there. This tire is designed to be able to withstand all that.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So what was the impact after you released this tire on the total cost? How did it drive that down for the fleets that started using it?

Tom Clauer:

Okay. Yeah, so that’s a very good question because when you were talking about a steer all position tire, which most people’s been using, we’re talking about a tire that’s got 1930 seconds or more on it. Obviously that tire costs more just simply because it’s got more rubber to it. We don’t need that rubber. We knew that that was too much rubber.

We got bad wear, so we had to get somewhere in between the 12 and the 19 or 2130 seconds. We had to get somewhere in between there. So when we designed this tire, we found that the sweet spot was right around 1630 seconds, and so we got less 30 seconds, less 30 seconds. I mean, I don’t need to charge the customer that much more money.

Jamie Irvine:

Right, less material, less money. There you go. So purchase price actually comes down.

Tom Clauer:

Purchase price comes down. So we’re saving the customer instead of going to the 1230 second tire, much cheaper or the more expensive 21 or at 19, we’re right there in the middle. So on that aspect, that’s perfect. The other aspect is the efficiencies of our production that once we start getting cranking on this here tire, the cost is going to start leveling out for us.

Jamie Irvine:

Makes sense.

Tom Clauer:

And we’re going to try to get the customer a better value. It’s all about how many miles per 30 second, usable miles per 30 second that customer’s going to get, we feel they’re going to get much more out of it.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, I like that. Usable miles. That’s an important measurement. We’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. We’ll be right back.

Commercial Break:

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Okay. Tell me about the, if I get this right, the 716 U? Yes. Now, is that the one that’s heavy-duty application? Yes. Okay. See, I got those confused. There you go. Let’s talk about that for a moment. First of all, what vocations is it specifically designed for?

Tom Clauer:

Originally this tire was designed for the waste industry. The waste industry we’re talking about side loaders, we’re talking about front loaders, ones that come pick up your garbage every week. These guys are starting to go to EV. That’s one thing about it. But they have also started looking at the ultra-wide base lineup. Ultra-wide base lineup is very unique in this segment.

Most customers have always used a 315 80 R 225, big heavy duty tire, 10,000 pounds capacity and all that, and then they retread the heck out of them. In the old days, these guys get, they didn’t measure miles, they didn’t measure weeks. Now they started to go to the ultra-wide base. They tried to start play with them a little bit. The key feature about this and what makes it very unique versus the old standard, instead of eight tires on the back of this, we got four tires.

By doing that, we are able to save that customer, which depends upon your operation, up to 700 pounds per vehicle. 700 pounds is a lot of weight. That’s a lot of weight. And the other aspect on it is ultra-wide base retreadability. We at Yokohama are very proud of our durability and one of the things that we do not compromise on any of our products, whether it’s ultra-wide based, whether it’s regional long haul, last mile delivery, is dependability, durability, retreadability. Our ultra-wide based tires are one of the most retreadable ultra-wide based products in the industry right now.

Jamie Irvine:

So let me ask you something, Tom, with that weight reduction Yes. Did that enable them to increase the amount of load there by increasing revenue? Or was it more about just decreasing the amount of weight and then getting better performance? Maybe fuel efficiency or something like that. Where did it actually, the weight reduction, where did it hit where it lowered cost for those fleets?

Tom Clauer:

That can go two different directions.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s why I was curious about, yeah.

Tom Clauer:

Okay. So for the ic, the internal combustion unit, those guys can take and they can get another, maybe another couple of streets worth of use, right?

Jamie Irvine:

Because they can take on more loads.

Tom Clauer:

They can take on more loads.

Jamie Irvine:

And stay within the safety limits.

Tom Clauer:

Correct. Yeah. Okay. Now for the EVs, it reduces the weight. So again, it’s going to give them more miles per battery on that. So that there helps out considerably on that. So it’s a plus all the way around.

Jamie Irvine:

Alright, let’s talk about the 121 T. What application is it for?

Tom Clauer:

The application for the 121 T is drop bed trailers. A lot of these guys are starting to run the smaller diameter tires on that 17 5 s and such as that. 225 70 or 215 75, 235 75 and the 245 75.

Jamie Irvine:

Can you say that seven times fast, right? Yes. Yes, please do. Okay. So what are the vocations then for that application that are typical? Just give us a couple examples. Okay.

Tom Clauer:

Well just as an example, one of our customers hauls wind windmill blades for the power generations and that’s what they use very specifically. They run a 245. The problem they’re in again is everybody was using the steer all position tire. Nobody really had a dedicated trailer tire. We know and understand that these two tires have completely different forces working against them. So is the steer all position tire going to be optimal for ’em?

No, it’s not. The other problem is anything that was a dedicated trailer tire for that had very low speed limits on ’em. Right. And I mean we’re talking down to like 61 or even in the fifties. So the 121 T, we had to tackle that on both fronts. We needed to develop a tire that could handle the forces of a trailer. We got a lot of braking issues with trailers. We got following tracking issues with trailer tires.

We got a lot of the lateral movement on trailer tires that they have to contend with. So we put that all into these tires and the durability because these things run over every damn thing. So we had to do that, but we also had to increase the speed limit on them. We need to get these tires up to 68 miles per hour at least for the highway running. So that’s what we did with the 121 T.

It’s severe snow rated. It’s got the three peak mountain snowflake, so it’s good for all weather conditions. A lot of our customers run up in the northern states, snow and slush. We got to get that out from underneath the tires. How do we do that? We have to design the tires specifically.

Jamie Irvine:

So it sounds to me like your approach has been, instead of trying to get one tire to fit all going into these specific problems, you’re solving a real problem. You’re developing a specific product to solve that problem and to give the fleets the performance that they need for the application. That seems to be the approach that I’m hearing.

Tom Clauer:

You’re right. That is the approach that we’re, and this is one way, one, we can refine our lineup. We want to specialize for that customer and like I said before, our customers are the ones that tell us what we need to do. Bottom line is, because we got to satisfy them and we start looking at this and we’re starting to say, well, you know what, this has been working for many years, but just because it’s working doesn’t mean it’s going to work tomorrow.

We got to look at that and say, what is tomorrow going to bring? Well, let’s start targeting certain segments on this. What segment’s growing? What’s going to be important segment? And then focus in on that, let’s create the right tire for the right job.

Jamie Irvine:

And we want to avoid complacency. Also, just because the status quo is good enough doesn’t mean it’s actually what’s best for the customer. Tom, thank you for taking some time and talking with me. I’ve learned a lot. Tires is not one of my strong suits. I never did sell tires when I was a sales account manager. So this has been fascinating and I look forward to learning more and talking to you again in the future.

Tom Clauer:

You’re welcome. Thank you very much for having me.

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