There is no shortcut for creating an ROI baseline—it requires a large amount of data to generate a valid baseline metric from which sound conclusions can be drawn. Michelin’s Timmerman recommended the following simple model to help fleets get started in establishing a baseline:
• Start by assessing the fleet’s tire pressure maintenance program to determine if it is truly effective at maintaining optimal tire pressure;
• Calculate the cost of each hour of downtime when a vehicle is out of service;
• Chart what you are spending on fuel and the miles driven by the fleet in a given period (e.g. monthly, annually);
• As accurately as possible, calculate the average life of each tire per wheel position; and
• Finally, capture the cost of emergency roadside events related to tire failure.
“Armed with this information, it should be relatively easy to calculate a cost per mile baseline and the costs associated with poorly maintained tires,” Timmerman said. “There are several publicly available industry studies correlating the effect of severe under-inflation with fuel consumption and tire life. Many vendors have customizable ROI calculators posted on their websites.”
Talking tractor tire inflation options
When it comes to TPMS, tire inflation monitoring offerings are fairly straightforward on tractor tire positions. ATIS, however, is a different story. ATIS is widely available for trailer tire position, but tractor tire position options are limited.
“In a tractor application, the presence of the drive train significantly limits the real estate for routing the airlines out to the wheel end,” said Josh Carter, chief executive officer of Aperia, maker of Halo, a stand-alone ATIS system which can be installed on the wheel hub of any tire position. “While the industry has rightfully given much attention to the trailer ATI systems over the last two decades, there is a common misconception about the ROI opportunity for a tractor ATI solution. We hear all the time, ‘My trailer tires are the ones that get neglected,’ and ‘I see my tractors much more than my trailers, so I need inflation more on my trailers.’ In an absolute sense, that common perspective is not wrong. But, the question of ‘What under-inflation is costing you more money?’ is answered by combining average under-inflation with average mileage—highlighting the major opportunity among tractors, which do three-times the distance trailers do.”
“Manufacturers of tractor ATIS solutions need to overcome additional costs associated with additional components or complexities that come with designing the proper solution,” explained John Bennett, general manager of global product strategy for Meritor. “Another challenge is overcoming the customer’s expectation on cost. The initial sticker shock for a customer can be challenging, because the customer is used to paying a lower price for trailer tire inflation systems while tractor tire inflation system have more complexity and ultimately result in a higher price.”
While several companies such as Dana and Meritor are developing ATIS for tractors, Aperia’s Halo is currently the only ATIS solution that works on tractor tire positions. Halo is also available from Michelin as Michelin Auto Inflate, thanks to a partnership between the two companies announced earlier this year.
Data-driven tire inflation
Fleets increasingly are integrating the TPMS information into their telematics to provide back office management of tire issues instead of placing this responsibility only on the driver, Bendix’s Intagliata reported.
“The back office reporting allows the fleet’s management to decide if and where to send the driver to address the issue,” he said. “It also allows the accumulation of the tire pressure data for further analytics related to both driver behaviors, fuel economy and tire cost per mile.”
Fleets are also interested in collecting tire pressure, temperature and tread depth/wear for trend analysis and possibly some elementary predictive analytics.
“Some fleet asset management systems have tire modules included which provide basic features for tracking tire life cycle data, but true analytics requires systems that are far more robust,” Michelin’s Timmerman said. He went on to explain that Michelin has one such initiative as part of its digitalization effort to deliver predictive and prescriptive solutions for fleets.
“Every tire tells a story—especially the old ones,” said Matt Loos, director of TBR marketing for Bridgestone Commercial Group. “Close analysis of every tire removed from service can help you accomplish several things: One, it can answer important questions about alignment, operating conditions, tire age and fleet specifications; and two, it can help identify opportunities to reduce expense. In the end, you’ll have a reliable data set that can reduce costs and improve profitability by giving you insight about products and equipment.”
Bridgestone’s BASys Fleet Analyzer 2.0 mobile and web-based tire inspection tool offers detailed reports on the performance and condition of your tires after an inspection is performed. Fleets get detailed information about including inflation, tread depth and potential.