The road to improvement: champions improve haul tire life at Mildred Lake

“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness,” wrote Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher. Roughly 2,000 years later, Diana Naca-Rowsell can relate to the Stoic philosopher’s advice after spending more than 13 years operating heavy equipment on the haul roads at Syncrude.


“There are all kinds of different conditions you must look for while driving a haul truck,” says Diana. “You will get spillage from the back of other trucks. Rutted roads are tough on the tires, the equipment and even your body. You might not realize it at the time but driving too fast or too aggressively will eventually lead to aches, whether it’s sore muscles or bones. And you have to watch for roads that are too narrow for two-way traffic as it forces your equipment into the berm, which are very rough on the tires on your blindside.”


“There are all kinds of different conditions you must look for while driving a haul truck,” says Diana. “You will get spillage from the back of other trucks. Rutted roads are tough on the tires, the equipment and even your body. You might not realize it at the time but driving too fast or too aggressively will eventually lead to aches, whether it’s sore muscles or bones. And you have to watch for roads that are too narrow for two-way traffic as it forces your equipment into the berm, which are very rough on the tires on your blindside.”

“Our tire vendor reported a 39 per cent increase in average rolling hours and 46 per cent increase in distance since the beginning of 2019, which is incredible,” says Scott Saunders, Business Team Leader, Mildred Lake Trucks & Productivity.

Haul tires are now lasting more than 5,000 operating hours and more than 100,000 kilometres on a rolling average.

– Scott Saunders


“Given that these tires cost about $60,000 each and there’s six on every truck, this is a significant savings that really demonstrates Syncrude’s commitment to operate safely, responsibly, reliably and profitably,” he says.

Mildred Lake Mining adopted the tire champion program from its counterparts at Aurora Mining, where the program had already demonstrated its value.



“Aurora’s Keith Tremblett helped set up the program at Mildred Lake. Every shift has a tire champion, who look at the roads and conditions and potential damage to tires and we correct them. We found it very helpful in the spring, when the roads get muddier in the mine due to the thawing and rain,” Scott says. “Wet tires cut much easier than a dry tire – if there are rocks in the mud and a truck drives through, it will cut up a tire – that’s the main cause of our tire failures. One of our frontline leaders, Thomas Dowson, actually dug out a rock and created a poster that we put in the Mildred Lake Mine dry (gathering area for operators) so everybody could see the potential hidden dangers. It’s an example of everybody buying into the idea, from operators to leader to planners to maintenance crews.”

Diana, for her part, feels proud to have been part of the wider effort that has lengthened the life and mileage on haul tires.

To know you’re able to make a difference really feels really good.

– Diana Naca-Roswell

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