What can be done to fight rising fleet operating expenses?

With the rising cost of fuel pushing past $4 a gallon, tire costs increasing and labor and insurance expenses rising, fleets are looking at every way possible to save money for their operations. At the same time, the new CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) guidelines require more attention to record keeping and vehicle maintenance. New equipment costs are rising, and greater demand for on-time delivery is challenging the best of fleet managers.

The over-riding challenge: What can be done to fight all the rising expenses?

The good news is there are tools in the market to assist fleets in saving time and money. One tool in particular can make you look like a standout: TPMS (tire pressure monitoring systems).

TPMS solutions are devices that monitor tire pressure and assist in lowering labor costs, reducing tire maintenance, extending tire life, saving fuel, protecting casings, adding greater safety and more.

It is widely accepted that monitoring tire pressure is necessary because it impacts costs, safety and efficiency, and does so in a cost-effective way.

Tire Stats

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) states that tires can account for up to 36 percent of a fleet’s maintenance expense. Statistics from the DOT, tire manufacturers, consumer and industry organizations, such as TMC, ATA, Tire Retread and Repair Association Bureau (TRIB) and others, point to the need to keep tires properly inflated and the cost of not doing so.

Consider some of those statistics:

The DOT estimates there are approximately 63 million commercial vehicles on American roads, wasting 700 million gallons of fuel per year due to low tire inflation pressures.

For every 10 psi underinflated, fuel consumption increases 0.5 to 0.75 percent.

Continuous 20 percent underinflation decreases tread wear by 25 percent.

Tire life is reduced by 30 percent if a tire is run underinflated by 20 percent.

Underinflated tires lead to tread separation and tire failure, resulting in increased accidents, injuries, deaths and potentially expensive liability issues.

Prematurely worn tires result in the unnecessary use of raw resources. Petroleum products account for approximately 22 percent of the materials used in the manufacture of an average truck tire.

Tires Costs

It is proven that tires running on low pressure break down the tire’s casing, preventing those tires from be retreaded or sold.

Further, a recent TMC survey of commercial fleets showed the average cost of tire-related road problems due to underinflation is $180, plus the cost of a replacement tire. Average downtime is more than 2.5 hours, and the average cost of driver delay time is $130.

Add to that the additional cost of a missed delivery slot - especially for just-in-time deliveries, and the potential loss of future business, and the cost of a single tire problem can become staggering.

That same TMC survey revealed 60 percent of the fleets had more than 11 road calls for tire problems each month, with an average expense of more than $600, not counting rim replacement.

All considered, it’s easy to see that maintaining proper tire pressures is essential to running a profitable operation. The most effective way to do this is with tire pressure monitoring systems.

Just how much can TPMS solutions save your fleet’s bottom line? Depending on the size of fleet and the TPMS product chosen, the savings can be substantial. With some TPMS products touting ROI’s as short as 7 to 10 months and a product lifespan of 5 years, the savings add up quickly –and significantly.

Product Selection

The best ROI comes from selecting the appropriate TPMS for your fleet.

If you accept the old adage knowledge is power, then the best TPMS is one that can tell both the driver and an office-based management system what is going on with tires, allowing a fleet to be proactive rather than reactive. It is also essential to choose a TPMS product that is proven to withstand the environment in which your equipment operates.

Here are some other questions to ask when choosing a TPMS solution for your fleet:

Does the TPMS product come from an experienced company with a proven track record?

Is the system U.S. made?

What is the expected life of the product?

Does the product provide low, high and temperature alerts?

Does the product display current tire pressures?

Does the product require professional installation or special tools?

Is the product easily programmable and simple to use?

Does the product have a history of reliability, durability and accuracy?

How much maintenance does the product require?

Does the system read 24/7 or only after the vehicle is moving?

What are the specs of the product and its pressure reading capabilities?

Does the product have data logging capability?

Is the system compatible with different vehicle communication protocols?

Can the system be integrated with telematics products and office-based management systems?

Will the product work in drop-and-hook operations?

The upshot: TPMS can be pivotal to your bottom line profits, so take time to ask questions and find a reliable firm with a dependable product that best fits your operations.