Fuel Smarts

Studies Indicate TPMS and ATIS Are Money Makers

September 2013, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive

by Jim Park, Equipment Editor - Also by this author

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Real-World Results
Tire pressure monitoring systems alert driver and fleet managers to low-pressure situations than can suck fuel and ruin tires.
Tire pressure monitoring systems alert driver and fleet managers to low-pressure situations than can suck fuel and ruin tires.

The results of a research project conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation between 2008 and 2010 were made public last year at the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations annual meeting in Tampa. Presented by Chris Flanigan of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Office of Analysis, Research and Technology, the study quantified the ROI on both TPMS and ATIS systems.

"We saw an increase in fuel economy in both fleets of 1.4%," Flanigan told the crowd. "And based on current fuel costs [about $4/gallon] and equipment costs of about $1,500 per tractor-trailer unit, the ROI comes in under one year."

The study was comprehensive. It documented fuel savings accrued from running correctly inflated tires, as well as the savings in tire wear, premature failures due to under inflation and the reduced maintenance costs resulting from longer tire life and the lower failure rate.

Flanigan said the results showed both fleets experienced an equal reduction in fuel consumption of 1.4 percent. Tread wear reductions recorded in the Sheetz fleet were notable. Steers tires saw an improvement in tread wear of 5/32 per million miles and trailer tires saw an improvement of almost 2/32 of an inch per million miles. The drive tires improved by nearly 3/32 per million miles.

So, that lays to rest the questions of uncertainty about payback and the lack of credible information. Granted it was one study, but there are others reporting similar results. In fact, in its report on tire pressure systems, NACFE's fleet survey reported similar results among users that responded using the payback calculator tool.

The NACFE calculator shows, for example, a payback for TPMS systems of about 14 months and 9 months for ATIS systems. It demonstrated improvements in tire wear of 4% and 8% respectively and fuel economy improvements of between 0.75% and 1.25%.

In the follow up interviews to the initial survey, Mike Roeth, executive director of NACFE, saw fleets getting 1.5% improvement in fuel economy just by keep tires properly inflated.

"I'd say to produce savings on that magnitude, the fleet would have had pretty poor tire management before installing the systems," he said. "In this case, we looked only at the fuel savings. Imagine what better pressure management did for their tire costs."

In the case of tire-pressure mitigation systems, it's likely that both the fuel purchasing department and the maintenance department would share in the savings. One of the barriers reported in the detailed survey analysis of these systems was a feeling in the maintenance department that added complexity of the systems and potential installation and ongoing maintenance concerns would add up to more trouble than they were worth. The cost/benefit analysis seems to dispute that too, both in the DOT study and the NACFE Fleet Survey.

There is fuel savings and tire wear savings and reduced tire failure savings to be had, all from the installation of a couple of simple, inexpensive and unobtrusive systems. If you need more information, the purveyors of such product would be glad to help. Or you can read the full Barriers reports. If you're looking for excuses, they're all in there. If you want results, that's in there too.

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  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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