How one fleet reduces tire maintenance costs through enhanced fleet visibility

Big savings from less frequent tire blowouts thanks to GPS fleet management.


Tire blowouts are a common occurrence that can have costly results for any transportation company. However, by implementing a comprehensive tire maintenance program supported by GPS-based business intelligence software and services, blowouts can be dramatically reduced, resulting in improved service, greater productivity, safer transport and significantly lower costs.

Based in Mobile, AL, Point Logistics (www.pointlogistics.net) provides container drayage, warehousing and local- and long-haul transportation services and specializes in hauling overweight reefer containers. Company management determined they needed a way to improve overall operational efficiencies, automate reporting and more accurately monitor the location and activities of its drivers and 70 trucks.

Management was also hoping to use the enhanced fleet visibility to gain controls in its tire maintenance program.

In May of 2012, Point Logistics implemented Fleetmatics' GPS fleet management solution. Not long after, it rolled out a tire maintenance program aimed at reducing wear and tear, preventing blowouts and cutting the costs of tires and business disruptions associated with frequent blowouts.

TIRE MAINTENANCE PLAN

In an effort to mitigate the risks and reduce costs, Janice Booth, Point Logistics' safety maintenance manager, lead a taskforce to establish a tire maintenance plan. It requires each vehicle to stop every 75 miles for 15 minutes to let tires cool and monitor tire pressure.

However, based on the behaviors of the typical driver, as recorded by the Fleetmatics' fleet management solution, Booth knew the plan alone wouldn't be enough to enforce these practices. So, she used the intelligence captured by the solution to gain the visibility required to monitor the activities of drivers and ensure compliance with tire maintenance protocols.

DATA, REPORTING AND PROCEDURE

To capture all the data necessary to support the tire program, Booth implemented a comprehensive reporting procedure that ensures every blowout is properly and fully documented. When a blowout occurs, the driver must alert the company's safety maintenance personnel, who then fill out a work order and input the date, time, truck driver, trailer/container number, which tire, location of the blowout, etc., into a spreadsheet.

Booth then reviews this information. If there is a concern, she pulls a series of reports from Fleetmatics. Daily activities and driving behavior reports reveal vehicle speed prior to a blowout, when and for how long a vehicle stopped en route, how many miles were traveled before stopping and whether a driver was following procedure or not. If not, a first offense garners a warning; repeat offenders can expect further disciplinary actions.

FLEET VISIBILITY KEY TO SUCCESS

Point Logistics' tire maintenance program has significantly deterred blowouts. In just the first six months, blowouts on routes declined from 12 percent to less than five percent on average. Booth estimates the program has already saved about $20,000 in tire costs alone.

Additional benefits include improved mileage and associated fuel savings, safer transport, fewer business disruptions, less risk to cargo, more reliable deliveries and more satisfied customers.

In essence, intelligent fleet management solutions provide failsafe visibility that makes the company's tire maintenance program enforceable.

"Without the ability to prove if drivers are following procedures, the program would be almost impossible to enforce and certainly wouldn't be as effective," notes Booth.

Joshua Fletcher is the national accounts manager at Fleetmatics, a leading global provider of fleet management solutions delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) (www.fleetmatics.com).

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