SAN ANTONIO. For Brock Ackerman, president of refrigerated food carrier K&B Transportation, it’s all about uptime and functional equipment. That’s why he said he invested in the Meritor Tire Inflation System (MTIS) by PSI at a Fleet Technology Event four years ago.
“I don’t have time to be down with a flat tire when I have a 400-mile length of haul,” Ackerman explained, noting that all the company’s deliveries are time sensitive and most include refrigerated meat. “The thing that sold me on this system initially was that if I got a call at 11 or 12 at night saying we had a flat and we had a delivery 300 or 400 miles away, instead of waiting for a service truck to get going, the system provides the ability to inflate itself to avoid service calls.”
At this year’s Meritor and PSI annual event in San Antonio, TX, Ackerman was able to testify just how much the system has saved his company. The system, which provides automatic inflation and uniform inflation for all a tractor-trailer’s tires, has given his tires an average life of 24 months compared to 16 months before K&B installed MTIS. Because of MTIS by PSI, Ackerman said, he has reduced his fleet’s monthly tire changes from 562 to 375. That, he said, has saved him about $700,000 a year, which is about a penny a mile for K&B.
The system has also significantly reduced the company’s CSA points, Ackerman said. From June to August 2011, he said K&B accumulated 188 points for tires during FMCSA vehicle inspections. Whereas now, from January to March 2015, that number has dropped to two cases – one, Ackerman said, was for an audible air leak.
The main cost savings and benefits he has seen since implementing MTIS are:
Notification of a tire problem while on the move
Ability to inflate the tire system to avoid service calls
Ability to direct repairs to vendor of choice to avoid non-national account purchases
Ability to fit repairs into a timeframe that works for operations through availability to keep tires inflated
And when it comes to his larger clients, like Walmart, which impose strict deadlines, Ackerman said this system has “unquestionably been the best investment he ever made.”
“It isn’t that you can’t operate a truck without it,” he said. “It’s that you can operate a truck so much better with it.”
Frank Sonzala, executive vice president of PSI, said the company is continuously reinventing the product to “Keep It Simple Safely.”
He said PSI established a partnership with Meritor in 1999 when it was a new company and needed a more established, well-known company to help its credibility. Now, he said, nearly 90% of the fleets that use automated tire inflation systems use MTIS by PSI.
The product is currently shipped to 45 countries and has been installed on more than 859,000 trailers globally, Sonzala said. He also said the company has incorporated ThermALERT, an MTIS heat sensor that warns drivers of tires that overheat, thus preventing fires and wheel offs.
Al Cohn, director of new market and development and engineering support for PSI, who worked for Goodyear Tires for 20-plus years, said this system is beneficial since tires continue to be the top maintenance cost for fleets.
According to Cohn, inflation pressure becomes a problem for drivers because drivers get dirty checking the pressure, it takes too long to check, inflation gauges are inaccurate, and drivers can easily lose valve caps. He also said an underinflated tire can cost fleets three points against their CSA scores, and that according to CSA, a flat tire is considered out of service.
“But if you have PSI on your tires, CSA inspectors won’t even check your tires because they know it’s a waste of their time,” Cohn said.