As a rule most transport companies carry out some element of tyre maintenance and replacement in- house. From review of internal costs versus the cost of contract maintenance (either full contract hire of contract maintenance alone) the actual cost of external contract maintenance is often lower than in-house maintenance when considering the full cost per hour of internal work, including an overhead for the cost of internal workshop tools and consumables. Tyre dealers that other contract maintenance have the added advantage of maximising the utilisation of workshop time and personnel. Technicians trained in one make should be more efficient and their support from the brand’s warranty and recall items allows more efficient utilisation of the vehicle and less downtime.
Biggest factors in tyre wear include vehicle/trailer maintenance, weight carried, types of road surface, driver and tyre suitability. Checking tyre pressure, rotation of tyres and monitoring of driving style all contribute to wear. The specification of tyre to application means a unit and trailer that runs on motorways with a light load can bene t from premium brand, extended life and reduced unit downtime. Light commercial vehicle tyre costs can vary by as much as 30 percent, so shop around. Heavy commercial premium brands can be purchased at discounted price when tyre manufacturers run volume discounts or change patterns. Premium brands may not always give the kilometres expected, due to product suitability with application and a system that monitors actual usage per tyre on units and trailers will highlight this fact. Usage of low cost tyres on trailer applications that are prone to tyre damage or low kilometre usage may be cost advantageous but consideration has to be given to safety and fuel economy. A review of annual tyre cost versus a full tyre usage deal with a set rate per kilometre, may highlight cost savings whereby the tyre distributor gains with volume sales over the life of the contract and hidden additional costs such as tyre monitoring, stock costs, and downtime are eliminated. Advances in technology recently seen at the annual CV Show in Birmingham combine tyre inflation, tyre security (loss of tyres due to loosening) and monitoring of hub temperature, all contributing to lower tyre cost and reduced downtime as well as the obvious safety factor.
Internal maintenance of units and trailers brings both financial and compliance issues to bear. For internal maintenance, to be cost effective it has to be run with the same standards, expertise and control as a commercial workshop. Hidden costs in a commercial workshop involves the flow of work and productivity of technicians, while manufacturers and distributors aim to capture the after-sales market. Trough specialisation of diagnostics units the actual dealers realise that sales of units are a factor of whole of life vehicle cost. The biggest factor in unit cost is fuel but a significant element in the purchase decision of a unit or trailer is the service backup and downtime likely with a brand of vehicle or trailer. As the cost per hour of commercial workshop rates drops and the flexibility of maintenance times and locations increases, the case for a fully contracted maintenance plan should be fully assessed.
With the volume of commercial vehicle sales stabilising and the likely decrease in the number of operators with under 10 vehicles going forward, it creates a situation where distributors now can sell directly to large fleet purchasers and appoint service and parts agents as opposed to full dealers, so increasing specialisation in sales and increasing the service levels to its customers. Many transport firms that have in-house workshops must access the cost benefit of own maintenance versus external maintenance, and also look at a second option of creating a commercial workshop as a profit centre for the business.
In review of maintenance costs one must take cognisance of the type of work undertaken. Hauling full weight loads on poor periphery roads, over a certain kilometre life of the vehicle, is it no longer economically viable to retain the unit regardless of how productive or efficient your workshop is? New units purchased commit a business to a five to seven year asset repayment schedule, and clearly if the most economic unit for a business is a new unit, then a contract hire arrangement made be financially the best option.
In summary, review financially the current cost of maintenance, assess fully the increasing complexity of in-house maintenance, and review with the financial department the most appropriate and compliant maintenance procedures both internally and externally for your business.