Rolling into 2024December 28, 2023
Finding Middle GroundJanuary 19, 2024
It was genius. We (well, our very distant relatives) invented the wheel.
First, some 4,000 years ago, there was the potter’s wheel, spinning horizontally to forge cups and bowls and whatnot.
In a eureka moment, thousands of years before a light bulb could actually go off in their heads, they flipped the wheel into a vertical position. Attached it to an axle and made a wheelbarrow. We could move things around easier.
Progress rolled onward. We connected the wheel and axle combo to maybe a horse or mule or domesticated stegosaurus, and off we went: agriculture, travel, transportation.
Roads were soon followed by traffic, then traffic jams. Then paved roads were followed by potholes. That one moment of turning the wheel on its side eventually created an entire cottage industry of pothole repair.
We adjust and adapt. Rides were bumpy, so we invented shock absorbers. Among other benefits, this single innovation has made rides smoother for humans and livestock, and it minimizes that chances that milk will turn to cottage cheese during delivery.
Progress continues to roll onward. We’ve looked at a number of wheels over the years, and experience (in the form of owning a wheeled vehicle) always has us looking for the thing that will save us time and money on repair and replacement.
Tires are expensive. In our industry, they can cost some $4,000 per truck per year, about one percent of operating expenses. A nice point of reference, from FleetOwner, is that “[t]oo many fleets are still looking at tires as a commodity rather than as an asset.”
In the works are the noiseless tire, the solid rubber tire, and the tire with longer-lasting polymers. Goodyear is developing an eco-friendly tire made of sustainable materials like soybean oil, rice husks and recycled plastic.
Also in the mix: Goodyear’s “Spring Tire,” made of 800 interlocking, load bearing springs. Something punctures it, and the rest of the springs compensate. This one’s designed for your vehicle on the Moon and Mars.
For that gig, you’ll need to wait for dispatch to send you out of Earth orbit.