Tyre manipulators are the lesser spoken about attachment for heavy-duty machinery, even though they are used across a diverse collection of industries, for many reasons, and in different ways.
Wherever heavy-duty machinery is used for productive tasks such as mining, construction and agriculture, there is a need to be able to replace them, often oversized and cumbersome tyres on these solutions, while still taking care to do it safely, efficiently and effectively.
Because of this need, they are in high demand across multiple sectors, especially considering the elevated levels of safety they have brought to plants, sites and pits all over the world since they were first used.
But what exactly are tyre manipulators? Who gets the most use out of them and for what? What advantages and disadvantages do they offer to their operations?
Let’s take a closer look here.
What are Tyre Manipulators?
A tyre manipulator, simply put, is an attachment for various different types of heavy-duty handlers such as forklifts, loaders and trucks, that are specifically designed to lift and handle particularly cumbersome and heavy, large OTR tyres and wheels.
Anybody who has ever spent any amount of time in mining, agricultural or construction operation can attest to just how big these tires can get, and as such, they can exceed weights of multiple tons.
These operations make use of extremely heavy-duty equipment like diggers, bulldozers and the like to complete daily operations, and when their tyres need replacing (which they will after enough time tackling the toughest terrain out there), replacements need to be done with as little downtime as possible, and with a lot of attention to safety.
Since this can’t be assured when these heavy-duty tyres are handled by hand, there is a high demand for tyre manipulators in these industries.
One of the things that make manipulators a little difficult to describe, is that they don’t take on any specific design in their operations. For the most part, they are made according to customer specifications, which is largely due to the fact that tyres come in all weights and sizes.
This means that clients often need to have them manufactured to spec, according to the type of tyres they are working with.
Which Industries Use Tyre Manipulators?
With this rather broad description of what tyre manipulators are, it is easy to see why they are used in certain settings.
There is, however, a demand for them across a few specialised industries, each of which has to work with and effectively maintain heavy-duty vehicles for their operations.
The sectors that often have the highest demands for these solutions include, but are by no means limited to the mining sector, the agricultural industry, the construction industry, and in settings that rely on material handling, such as warehousing.
Let’s take a closer look at each in terms of their needs for tyre manipulators:
The Mining Sector
Tyres used for vehicles in the mining sector represent some of the heaviest and largest found anywhere on the hearth. These include monstrous vehicles such as dozers, graders and highwall miners to name a few.
The tyres used for these vehicles can be substantial in both their weight and size, with some examples of them weighing in at over 2000kg and standing as high up as 4 meters.
You don’t need to think too far outside of the box to realise that no person, or even a team of them, are capable of handling such mind-boggling weights and sizes; certainly not with any degree of reliability, safety or efficiency.
When these machines break down due to a damaged tyre that needs replacing, every hour of downtime suffered in the mining industry, as a result, can amount to extreme financial losses due to the resultant halt in productivity.
Therefore, in such settings, the use of well-designed tyre manipulators is not only a good idea but an essential one.
The Agricultural Sector
The agricultural sector provides another example of operations that rely on heavy-duty vehicles for most of its operations. Tractors, rotavators and the like are used extensively, which means that agricultural settings are extremely reliant on their consistent and reliable operation.
Since they also operate under fairly gruelling conditions, these types of vehicles will eventually have their tyres damaged, and will need to have them replaced to continue with production.
While it is true that, on average, the tyres used on these vehicles are not as cumbersome as those used in the mining sector, they are still substantial in terms of their weight and size; rendering them unfit to be safely handled without the right equipment.
These tyres can sometimes stand at no less than about 2 meters, which makes them fairly large; while they may also weigh in excess of 1000kg, making them all but impossible to lift and handle without mechanical assistance from a tyre manipulator.
The Construction Industry
The construction industry also makes use of a lot of heavy-duty machines and vehicles which, you guessed it, also need to have their tyres replaced from time to time.
The difference in the construction industry is that tasks in this sector are often largely subject to very particular time-frames and deadlines.
When heavy-duty vehicles are put out of action due to a need to have their tyres replaced, there likely won’t be enough time available to contractors to have it done by hand.
Since tyre manipulators provide an excellent solution for handling tyres efficiently, and thereby substantially reducing suffered downtime, they often form an essential piece of hardware in any construction site.
In the realm of materials handling, industrial-scale trucks of a variety of types are used to complete even the most standard tasks.
Due to the hazardous nature of these operations, the vehicles used to conduct them need to be consistently capable and always in top condition; particularly where their tyres are concerned.
These vehicles may include pallet jacks, forklifts, hand trucks, side-loaders or even heavier types of vehicles.
When they need to have their tyres replaced, it needs to happen immediately to ensure the efficiency of operations, as well as the safety of operators.
Since even these (comparatively smaller) tyres need to be handled with care if replacements are to be done effectively and safely, which often calls for a need for tyre manipulators that can be attached to existing vehicles.
What are the Benefits of Tyre Manipulators?
Now that we have a fairly good idea of what exactly tyre manipulators are and in which industries they play an essential role, let’s take a closer look at some of the top advantages they offer to those businesses that make effective use out of them.
The list of benefits is extensive, far too extensive to cover in a single article, so let’s take a look at the most impactful ones: improved safety, enhanced efficiency, the ability to handle larger weights and sizes, and increased productivity due to a reduction in vehicle downtime.
Improve on-site Safety
In any business where risks are present (as is the case in all of the industries mentioned above), it is the responsibility of the site manager or owner to ensure that adequate safety measures are put into place.
In the past, when tyres were largely handled by hand, there were a worrying amount of injuries and deaths caused by falling or even exploding tyres; particularly those that carried the additional weight and size of those tyres used in so many industrial tasks.
These days, accidents such as these should never occur, and there is no excuse when they do. This is largely thanks in part to the invent and use of tyre manipulators¸ which have elevated levels of safety in these industries greatly.
Enhance the Efficiency of Operations
The next advantage of using tyre manipulators is a purely business-centric one. Each time you need to halt operations to see to the tyres on your heavy-duty vehicles, your business will incur a loss of money.
Business owners understand the importance of limiting this downtime wherever they can, and more often than not, such situations call for rather specialised solutions.
Handling and replacing heavy-duty tyres by hand is a cumbersome affair, and besides the risk of injury that doing so can bring about, the process will take a much longer time than your business would otherwise be comfortable with.
Tyre manipulators, on the other hand, greatly enhance the efficiency of doing so thanks to the mechanical assistance that they provide.
This means that by using them you will significantly reduce the amount of downtime incurred when heavy-duty vehicles are being maintained.
What are the Drawbacks of Tyre Manipulators?
With any type of specialised equipment, you have to look at the advantages alongside the potential downsides that they offer.
This will ensure that you are prepared for the potential risks associated with using tyre manipulators. So, while you may never actually have to face the challenges presented by these drawbacks, it is a good idea to know what they are, so that they don’t arrive on your doorstep unexpectedly.
These drawbacks are few and fairly easy to get around if the manipulators are used correctly, and include their cost, the need for specialised equipment to attach them to, the fact that operators need to be correctly trained, and that their misuse could lead to injuries or damaged equipment:
The Cost of Attachments
While investing in tyre manipulators has the advantage of not requiring you to doll out on a single unit of specialised machinery (since they simply come as attachments for other types of vehicles), they do still come at quite a hefty investment; particularly if they are specially designed for the needs of your business.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has ever needed to invest in any kind of material handling machinery.
However, because they are able to incrementally boost the efficiency, productivity and profitability of your business, this investment generally pays for itself after a while.
The Need for Specialised Equipment
As we touched on above, tyre manipulators are simply attachments for other types of vehicles. This may be an advantage in terms of their cost and versatility, but it also means that you will need to have the appropriate vehicles on-hand in order to use them.
These might come in the form of forklifts or hand-trucks which can have their attachments fitted and replaced depending on what type of function the vehicle is performing. However, if you don’t have a secondary vehicle on hand to fit the attachment to, investing in one can be incredibly costly.
A Need for Operational Training
While tyre manipulators are fairly easy to operate, they aren’t exactly based on common knowledge. This means that operators will need to undergo specialised training in order to use them effectively and safely.
Operating them without any prior knowledge can be dangerous, not only for personnel in the area but also for equipment.
In such cases, accidents due to insufficient operational knowledge can lead to severely damaged equipment, injuries to your personnel, or even death.
Contact Micron Engineering for Details
There are plenty of great reasons why your business can benefit from the use of tyre manipulators, whether you operate out of the industrial, agricultural or construction industry.
If you would like to know more about how our team here at Micron Engineering can assist you with sourcing the ideal tyre manipulator for your needs, be sure to get into contact with one of our representatives today or visit our website for further details on our specialised products and services.