The organization has to design and implement policies for vehicle fleet operation, such as maintenance management, breakdown management, spare parts management, control and reduction of fuel consumption, tires management, prevention and reduction of traffic accidents, or the use of owned or outsourced workshops.

The organization has to write and establish the operations manual for the fleet’s vehicles concerning their maintenance, use, safety, fuel consumption, driving, and what to do in case of an accident or breakdown. This manual has to be given and explained to every driver and/or person in charge of the vehicle.

The goal of vehicle operations is that they operate the maximum time possible in order to meet the established service level, with the least possible variable operational costs.

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The organization has to design and establish the system to control and monitor the tires due to the fact they can be around 15-20% of the variable operational costs, and between 3-5% of the direct costs through the entire vehicle’s life.

Tires are one of the key elements of vehicle’s safety, which can transform it from a safe vehicle to an unsafe one depending on the brand and/or model of the tires, so  the organization has to establish the tire’s brand, if premium or low-cost, to use in the fleet.

Tire’s pressure and conditions are fundamental elements in the vehicle’s safety, in the fuel’s consumption and the tire’s durability, and they must be checked before using the vehicle.

The goal of choosing the tire’s brand and model is to minimize the cost per kilometer/mile, preserving minimum-safety conditions. When choosing the tire’s brand and model, the following factors should be considered.

  • Cost of tires.

Some brands and/or models are less expensive than others. Premium brands are more expensive than low-cost ones.

  • Cost of tires per kilometer/mile.

The main indicator for control and monitor is the cost of tires per traveled distance. Some brands and/or models have fewer costs per kilometer/mile than others do.

  • Initial tread depth.

Some brands and/or models have different initial tread depth. Premium brands usually have a deeper tread depth than low-cost ones.

  • The tread’s wear rate in a tire depends on several internal factors like the tread wear, the tire’s composition, vector or structure, and due to external factors like the way of driving the vehicle, the weather conditions, speed, and where the vehicle is used, like urban environments, highways or a mixture of both. For this reason, some tires brand and/or models have a higher tire wear rate.
  • Number of incidents.

Some brands and/or models are more likely to face more incidents like punctures, bursting, damages to the side, etc. than others do, and these incidents assume repairing costs and not being able to use the vehicle for a certain time, and in some cases, towing services too. Premium brands usually have fewer number of incident costs than the low-cost ones.

  • Technical characteristics.

The tire’s technical characteristics are: traction in dry and wet pavement (aquaplaning), the braking distance in dry and wet pavement, the agility in dry and wet pavement, the lateral adherence, rolling resistance, sonority, maximum speed, and maximum weight the tire can resist.  Premium brands usually have better technical characteristics than the low-cost ones.

  • Tire’s use.

There’s a large variety of tires depending on their use, like depending on the season, with flank reinforcement, low or high rolling resistance.

The tire’s control and the monitoring system have to register the following information.

  • The tires, punctures, and repairing costs.

The organization has to consider all the costs that affect the tire’s acquisition, repairing and maintenance, just like the fact the vehicle won’t be able to be used due to the vehicle’s incidents

  • The reason why the tire is being removed.

The organization needs to establish the categories why the tires would be removed and changed such as worn out, damaged, deflated, irregular wearing, rolling without pressure, damages and rubbing on the sides, and major difference between dual tires

  • Distance traveled with a tire.

The distance traveled by a vehicle must be registered when the tire is installed and removed

  • Tire’s tread depth.

The tire’s tread depth must be registered when the tire is installed and removed

  • Tire’s characteristics.

The tire’s characteristics must be registered, such as brand, model, tire profile, maximum speed, and the maximum weight it’s designed to carry.

  • Tire’s position.

The vehicle in which the tire is installed, and in what position it is installed must be registered.

Based on this information, the organization can choose the tire’s brands, models and profiles, and take the adequate measures to optimize their use. The main sources of information to use are the following.

  • The cost per kilometer/mile by brand, model, and profile. In order to calculate it, use the arithmetic measurement of all the tires that have the same brand, model, and profile
  • The percentage of usage of initial tread depth by the tire’s brand, model, and profile. In order to calculate it, use the arithmetic measurement of all the tires that have the same brand, model, and profile
  • Establish the main reasons to remove a tire, and take the adequate measures so the main reason to remove a tire is worn out
  • Compare if there are meaningful differences among the types of tires by routes, vehicles, drivers, etc. using the statistics technique of contingency table
  • Know behavioral patterns like the relationship between using certain tire’s brands, model, and profiles and the number of accidents or the fuel consumption. It can be done by using statistics techniques like principal components and/or logistic regression.

Collecting data and the monitoring of tires require great effort and resources from the organization. If the organization has a big fleet, they can do it only over a set of vehicles, and extrapolate it to the rest of the fleet.

Another alternative, if it’s not possible to collect the distance traveled with a tire because of the type of service performed or because the organization doesn’t have enough resources, they could use the cost of tread depth per millimeter used. This alternative requires measuring the tread depth when the tire is installed and once it’s removed.

The low-cost tires are usually poorly designed, manufactured, and are made with bad materials, have poor technical characteristics, and for this reason they have poor safety, and normally have less initial tread depth than premium brands.

For all these reasons, the cost per kilometer/mile is higher in the low-cost tires than in the premium brands, and it’s advisable to use premium-brand tires.

The organization needs to consider that the only advantage of the low-cost tires over premium brand tires is the acquisition cost is lower.

JMFI´m a Fleet Management expert, and the manager of Advanced Fleet Management Consulting, that provides Fleet Management Consultancy Services.