Ten days work to pay for one

Big Rigs - - BIG RIGS | EXPERT ADVICE - COST CUT­TER CHET CLINE AIR CTI founder/owner

TRUCKS cost a lot of money to op­er­ate.

Fuel, driver, fi­nance, reg­is­tra­tion, in­sur­ance, tyres, main­te­nance, tolls... it all adds up. Truck op­er­a­tion is ex­pen­sive. Trucks not op­er­at­ing is money down the drain.

A good friend of mine taught me this about 20 years ago.

He was com­plain­ing about a war­ranty break down, when the ser­vice man­ager said “what’s the prob­lem, we’re fix­ing it and it won’t cost you any­thing”.

My friend got more upset, telling him the truck “costs him $1200 a day just sit­ting there”.

Later, I did some cal­cu­la­tions that showed it takes 10 days of work to pay for one lost day. I rang him back.

“Yep, the Christ­mas break means we don’t make any money un­til af­ter Easter.”

So, Christ­mas has just past. The week off work is lost for­ever.

But, the fi­nance costs, rego cost, in­sur­ance, they just keep bleed­ing you dry. Keep your trucks work­ing.

Most peo­ple don’t un­der­stand the num­bers. Num­bers do get mind bog­gling, but num­bers is what it is all about.

If you don’t keep track of the costs, so called im­prove­ments can’t be ver­i­fied. No num­bers, no way of mea­sur­ing.

Break downs are hor­ri­ble. Your truck is stuck some­where. The costs go through the roof. And you aren’t mak­ing any money. No prof­its. Just costs.

What can you do about it?

Pre­ven­tive main­te­nance is vi­tal. Let’s look at tyres.

They are round and black, cost too much and don’t last long enough. A blown tyre is far worse. You stop, hope­fully in con­trol, with­out do­ing too much ex­tra dam­age, or killing some­one.

Al­most all blown tyres hap­pen be­cause they were un­der in­flated, and no one knew. They get too hot be­cause of ex­ces­sive tyre flex, and blow out. No rocket sci­ence here. But the costs are hor­ri­ble.

First, you need a new tyre, but your friendly tame tyre dealer is 1000km away. The near­est tyre dealer knows you’re stuck. No dis­counts here.

Add in the road­side de­liv­ery and tyre change, and you’re $1000 down, at least. But it gets worse. You have lost at least three hours, and your time sched­ule is blown to pieces. How much does that cost? Fa­tigue laws mean you lose a load, or you risk a hefty fine. There is no way to get back that money. You have prob­a­bly lost $2000 or more and upset some cus­tomers.

Check­ing tyre pres­sures is vi­tal, but, who has the time? Tyre Pres­sure Mon­i­tor Sys­tems (TPMS) would have in­formed the driver be­fore it hap­pened. One blown tyre would have paid for the TPMS.

Lots of other prod­ucts re­duce down time costs, if used.

Bet­ter fuel fil­ters ex­tend

the life of your in­jec­tions sys­tem. Bad fuel can cost tens of thou­sands of dol­lars, plus days or weeks off the road. Poor air fil­ters, or poor fil­ter de­sign can dam­age your en­gine.

Cheap oil might save you a few dol­lars to­day, but, the cost later could wipe out your busi­ness.

You won’t know, if you don’t keep track of the num­bers.

Write down the amount of fuel, the dis­tance trav­elled, the costs and the con­di­tions into your di­ary. Note any un­usual is­sues.

Write down the mileage when you fit new tyres and the date. Keep track of how long they last.

Write down the costs for each day, your food, drinks, tolls, fuel and your ex­pected in­come.

Then, when you change brands of tyres, or add a fuel sav­ing prod­uct, you will know if it helps, or hurts. Num­bers are your friends.

As an ex­am­ple, Joel Mor­row is well known in the USA as a truck owner driver that is get­ting phe­nom­e­nal fuel econ­omy on Amer­i­can high­ways cruis­ing on 120km/h, haul­ing one trailer.

Through ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and keep­ing track of num­bers, he im­proved both fuel econ­omy and tyre life.

He in­stalled bet­ter tyres and got bet­ter tyre life. He fit­ted tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing and kept his tyre pres­sures at 100psi and got bet­ter tyre life.

He then tri­alled op­ti­mis­ing the tyre pres­sures for his tyre size and loads, as rec­om­mended by tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers in their load to in­fla­tion ta­bles, and got even bet­ter life.

Then he went to the 50 se­ries real wide sin­gle tyres and got even bet­ter tyre life. Last I heard, he was get­ting over 400,000 miles (600,000km) from his tyres!

Ad­mit­tedly, his roads are a lot bet­ter than ours. He’s also av­er­ag­ing over 4.25km per litre!

In the next in­stal­ment, I’ll tell you more ways to save. And most of them don’t cost much. They all re­turn money, mak­ing you money.

Keep truck­ing. We have a beau­ti­ful land. Life is fun.

ABOUT THE AU­THOR: Chet Cline has over 50 years of ex­pe­ri­ence and pri­vate re­search fix­ing, build­ing, mod­i­fy­ing, and im­prov­ing ve­hi­cles of all types. He is shar­ing his ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence to help make a bet­ter trans­port in­dus­try. This ar­ti­cle is one of sev­eral. Please email com­ments to chet­[email protected]­mail.com.

PHOTO: JAMES GRA­HAM

TRACK YOUR NUM­BERS: Al­most all blown tyres hap­pen be­cause they were un­der in­flated, says Chet.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

KEEP­ING COSTS LOW: Ploger driver Joel Mor­row is get­ting phe­nom­e­nal re­turns through ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. IN­SET: This truck costs $1200 a day to run.

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