High-Tech Solutions to Manage Tire CPM
Tires are generally the second-largest operating cost for fleets behind fuel. Despite the negative effect of unchecked tire costs on the bottom line, not all fleets exercise control over their tire cost per mile (cpm).
Tracking all the variables affecting tire products and applications can be overwhelming and has led to the rise of an industry that provides tire management systems for a variety of customers, including public and private fleets.
The potential benefits of tire management systems are clear, said Glen Martin, fleet manager for Florida Power & Light (FPL) in West Palm Beach, Fla. They alert drivers of a potential tire problem, including a pending flat, which can dramatically increase driver safety.
According to Martin, that soft cost is difficult to measure, but an effective tire monitoring system should also provide a clear return on investment (ROI), which depends on tire cpm reduction. With more than 3,500 vehicles in the FPL fleet, it can be a difficult metric to accurately measure.
For most fleet managers, the true challenge is achieving cost saving figures. Tire monitoring and management systems are constantly changing, designed to address, in some capacity, manual labor reductions, increasing tire life, and driver safety.
Since November 2006, the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act mandated all new light vehicles be equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). Most fleet managers expect the TREAD Act will be expanded in coming years to additional commercial vehicles.
Alcoa Wheel Products introduced its new InTire management system in January 2007. This Web-based fleet maintenance management tool provides real-time data on both tire pressure and tread depth throughout an entire fleet, said Merrick Murphy, general manager of Alcoa accessories, services and logistics.
The software is designed to accurately and continuously monitor tire pressure and tread depth. Fleets can maximize tire life with added safety, full cost reporting capability with customized reports, and better fuel economy.
"The data is tracked by wheel position and the only manual work required is generating the (demographics) information on the fleet," Murphy said. "It takes some work up-front to load information in the database, but from there, it is fully automatic, which is what our customers desire."
The InTire management system offers an easy-to-use Web interface and wireless data collection, which reduces downtime for manual safety procedures, and speeds up information flow to management. Add-ons offer fleet managers the ability to monitor a limitless number of preventive maintenance checks such as fluid levels and filter conditions, therefore, working as an entire fleet maintenance application.
"Fleet managers can then use PDAs or other electronic devices to sync-up immediately accessible information on vehicles within their fleets wherever they go," Murphy said.
TireVigil, offered by TireStamp, Inc. in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada allows fleets the ability to view real-time tire data and monitor tire performance, as well as data and statistical information based on real tire performance measures.
Utilizing embedded wireless wheel sensors, TireVigil collects and communicates relevant data using internal servers and the company’s patent-pending technology. It reports vehicle tire status utilizing existing onboard telematics devices or TireStamp’s Tire Data Monitoring (TDM) technology that facilitates the collection and analysis of tire usage data over actual driving conditions.
"It’s designed to allow customers to view tire data and make informed decisions to better manage their tire assets, anytime and anywhere," said TireStamp President Peggy Fisher. "It should meet the need of fleets and provide a good ROI in equipment and service costs."
Fleets have had four requirements for tire pressure monitoring systems over the years, Fisher said, including tire pressure and temperature monitoring, true-identification number for accurate tracking, and tire mileage for accurate cpm computation.
Exception Reports, such as those provided by TireStamp,help fleets better manage fuel economy.