Studies Indicate TPMS and ATIS Are Money Makers

September 2013, - WebXclusive

by Jim Park, Equipment Editor - Also by this author

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Soft, underinflated tires increase rolling resistance and shorten tire life. TPMS and ATIS systems solve both problems at once.

Soft, underinflated tires increase rolling resistance and shorten tire life. TPMS and ATIS systems solve both problems at once.

Have you equipped your fleet with tire pressure maintenance or monitoring systems? If not, you're not alone. In fact, you are in the majority. Fleet surveys conducted by The North American Council for Freight Efficiency show that only about 10% of fleets have embraced TPMS technology, while about 30% of fleets are using automatic inflation systems on trailers.

Both these technologies have proven themselves in real-world fleet testing, including a long-term study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2010. The ROI was there. Fuel savings was there. Reduced unscheduled tire maintenance was there. So what's the hangup? Why are fleets not all over these simple, inexpensive technologies?

The answer is complex, but partially revealed in a study called "Barriers to Increased Adoption of Fuel Efficiency Technologies in Freight Trucking" published by NACFE and the International Council for Clean Transportation.

With the cost of fuel steadily increasing, conventional wisdom would dictate that available technologies to improve fuel economy efficiency would be widely adopted by the trucking sector. In reality, this is not the case. There are a number of available technologies shown to improve fuel economy that have had limited adoption to date, including TPMS and ATIS.

The report sought to investigate the prevailing barriers to greater adoption of fuel-saving technologies for tractor-trailers in North America.

The study included a unique survey approach. It amassed the perspectives of a number of decision makers in the long-haul sector from fleets, to manufacturers, to integrators and builders, dealers, shippers, and owner-operators to assess the complex issues that govern decisions about technology investment and deployment.

It's worth noting that the study participants are likely to be more technology progressive than the industry as a whole, so the barriers identified in the study are likely to be even more pronounced for the industry as a whole.

Six principle barriers were identified:

  • Uncertainty about payback
  • Lack of capital
  • Lack of credible information
  • Insufficient reliability
  • Lack of availability
  • What the study's authors call the split-incentive barrier.

When it comes to investing in tire-pressure mitigation systems as a fuel savings measure, most of the reasons cited by the respondents fail to meet the definitions of the barriers described above. There is a great deal of data available quantifying the payback, they are not expensive relative to the savings they produce, reliability of the systems has improved over time, and they certainly are not hard to come by.

That leaves the so-called split-incentive barrier, which is described as a situation where the party paying for the product is not the same party that would realize the savings. One could see where that might play in this discussion, but it shouldn't be an insurmountable barrier in most cases.

Next page: Real-World Results


  1. 1. Steve Rush [ September 10, 2013 @ 04:27PM ]

    With a fleet of 110 trailers and 46 company tractors we have found all of the above to be true.
    As for why others have not followed yet truckers have always been slow to change. UPS went to tubeless tires and radial tires more than ten years before almost everyone. They have always been a leader of positive change but for whatever reason the rest drag their feet.
    Trucking you gotta love it

  2. 2. Kelly Gallagher [ September 11, 2013 @ 06:12PM ]

    Since I ride a bike to work and have experienced low pressure in my tires and the difference proper inflation makes to ease of peddaling, the TPMS manufacturers could easily set up a demo for truckers using a mountain bike, an air pump with pressure gauge and a stop watch. Set up the demo at truck stops or trade shows where you let truckers ride once around the track/parking lot with proper inflation of say 35 PSI and time them. Then drop the pressure to 30 PSI and let them ride the same route and time them. Then repeat at 25 PSI for a ride and again at 20 PSI so they can feel the difference it takes in time and energy just to pedal the same distance. Finally, inflate the tires back up to 35 PSI for a final lap, and explain on their return that their truck uses excess energy too when hauling loads with losses in fuel mileage when tires become under inflated. I'm sure a hands on demo like this would get a few laughs from those who haven't ridden a bike in ages and get most of them to thinking about buying a TPMS for their truck or fleet. You can also show them statistics or fact, but you don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle. Of course we can all check our own tires with a pressure gauge regularly, but these systems back us up if time goes by and we have been too busy or forgotten to do it in awhile.


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