Postal Vehicle Service Tire Usage and Failures
Our objective was to assess the Postal Service’s Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) tire usage and failures for 7-to 11-ton PVS vehicles.
The Postal Service maintains two tire contracts for all PVS fleet vehicles: the [redacted] contract to purchase new tires and the [redacted] Company contract to purchase retreaded tires. These contracts were valued at over [redacted] million and over [redacted] million, respectively, for fiscal years (FY) 2017 through Quarter 2, FY 2018. Federal regulations require new tires to be installed on the front wheels of vehicles and Postal Service policy recommends retreaded tires to be installed on the rear wheels of all PVS vehicles. The Postal Service purchased 8,981 new tires totaling over [redacted] million and 22,127 retreaded tires totaling over [redacted] million in FY 2017 through Quarter 2, FY 2018.
The Postal Service Fleet Maintenance Program requires technicians to examine PVS vehicle tires for damage, tread wear, and proper inflation every 13 weeks. Tires should be inflated to a specified pound per square inch (psi) air pressure depending on the type of vehicle. Tires are required to be inflated to between 90 and 105 psi for cargo vans as well as single- and double-axle tractors. Tire failures occur due to under-inflation, premature replacement, irregular tread wear, and road hazards.
The Postal Service uses the Solution for Enterprise Asset Management (SEAM) system to record tire maintenance and repairs at vehicle maintenance facilities (VMF). SEAM is a web-based application designed to improve inventory tracking and visibility; implement forecasting and automatic replenishment capabilities; and standardize asset tracking, maintenance, and repair functions.
We selected and visited seven VMFs nationwide based on the quantity of 7- to 11-ton PVS vehicles in the seven Postal Service areas. We conducted observations at the Carol Stream, IL, Louisville, KY, New Orleans, LA, Portland, OR, Santa Ana, CA, Suburban, MD, and Western Nassau, NY, VMFs.
What the OIG Found
We found the Postal Service does not have certain information necessary to effectively assess tire usage and failures and personnel were not always complying with Postal Service policies. Specifically, we observed the following during our site visits:
VMF technicians could not input tire tread wear for all tires or input the reasons for tire replacements because SEAM only has data fields to enter up to four tire measurements per vehicle. However, 7- to 11-ton PVS vehicles have six to 10 tires per vehicle. Additionally, SEAM does not have a field to enter why (failure, low tread, or other reason) the tire was replaced. While technicians have the ability to input this information on hard copy forms, this does not allow for a systemic analysis of tire usage and failures. As a result, it is difficult to track tire wear and the reasons for tire replacements.
The Santa Ana VMF had not used retreaded tires on the rear wheels of vehicles since 2014, as recommended by Postal Service policy. Instead, the VMF installed 115 new tires to the rear of PVS vehicles during FY 2017 through Quarter 2, FY 2018. The VMF manager said retreaded tires would not fit on the rims properly and were difficult to install. As a result, the Santa Ana VMF incurred about [redacted] in additional costs for purchasing new tires instead of retreaded tires in FY 2017 through Quarter 2, FY 2018. Additionally, the VMF paid [redacted] Company over [redacted] per tire to recycle the worn tires removed from the vehicles instead of sending them to be retreaded which cost the Postal Service an additional [redacted].
The Postal Service had outdated and inconsistent guidance regarding tire pressure requirements for 7- to 11-ton PVS vehicles. For example, the Postal Service had outdated tire pressure charts that did not reflect the required air pressure for tires in the PVS fleet. In addition, discussion with Postal Service management revealed that VMF technicians are to follow tire pressure requirements posted on vehicle drivers side doors or on tire wheel wells. During our site visits, three of the seven sites we visited had the tire pressure chart posted. However, the remaining four sites did not. This occurred because the tire pressure chart has not been updated since September 1993 and does not contain the information for new vehicles and current guidance regarding tire pressure is not clear. Therefore, VMF technicians at four of the locations we visited did not have the current tire pressure information readily available to ensure the proper tire inflation for vehicles currently in the PVS fleet.
When VMF personnel do not have all the information regarding the reasons for tire replacement, install tires in a manner that is not in accordance with Postal Service policy, or do not have access to accurate tire pressure requirements, there is increased risk of management making uninformed decisions about tire usage and failures.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management:
Review the feasibility of updating the SEAM system or develop other alternatives to allow tire maintenance personnel to include additional data entry fields needed to ensure that employees can record proper tire tread depth for all vehicle tires and reasons for tire replacements into the system.
Instruct VMF personnel to follow Postal Service policies on the use of retreaded tires.
Update and clarify guidance on tire pressure requirements to include information for current vehicles in the PVS fleet.