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Inside Trucking Part 2: Understanding Company Expenses

by Rhonda

Fuel is a big cost in trucking. Most do not give this any thought and that includes the employees of the trucking companies. If you are the type of driver that thinks about the cost of doing business for your employer or the trucking industry in general, you are in the minority. Just look at all the trucks you see whose drivers speed and tailgate confirming the bad image the public has of trucks and drivers.

Drivers are the ones who can control the cost of fuel with better driving habits, proper shifting, reduced idle times, using cruise control, and letting the truck move on its own, just to name a few. Now none of this is going to help a whole lot of the employer does not have the trucks operating at peak performance, and drivers can not control wind, road conditions and weight of the load being shipped.

Auxiliary Power Units Becoming Commonplace

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Many are now installing APU's. Auxiliary Power Units. These allow the driver to shut off the truck and use the APU for keeping cool or warm. APU's will use around 0.3 tenths of a gallon per hour instead of running the truck which uses 1 gallon per hour. So you can see that the APU's pay for themselves in a short time. I worked for a company that had heaters only for the drivers. Worked well and I got my much needed rest in a toasty warm sleeper. For the summer months to keep the sleeper cool, shut the curtain and the side curtains/flaps and keep the sleeper dark with sleeper air on. During your break, the cool air should last a few hours. These APU's are being installed due to the anti idling rules being more and more common in many states and cities.

No one wants you to idle your truck to keep warm/cool. But it is OK for the millions of other vehicles to idle to get the vehicle warm/cool before driver leaves. And drive 1 block because they won't walk it. You know what I mean. This applies to a large number of drivers. I am a firm believer in not running the trucks or any vehicle but at times you may have to. There are too many people who know more about trucking than the ones who actually work in the business and they are the ones who get these laws passed. You can run your truck if you have a pet because it's cruel and dangerous to let the pet suffer and die. So now we know pets have more rights than the drivers.

Today's trucks are not like the "old days". You can shut them off and they will start. What was going on then in trucking worked for that time. Today we have better equipment and thousands of more trucks on the roads.

Calculating Fuel Costs

Lets say your truck has two 100 gallon tanks and you put in 190 gallons twice a week. 190 gallons times $2.85 a gallon = $541.50 or $1083 a week or $4,332 a month. This is one truck. Now you have 100 trucks owned by your employer. 100 trucks put in 190 gallons on same day, it will cost $54,150! If all 100 trucks fill 9 times in a month with 190 gallons, that cost is $487,350! This does not include all the other fills the fleet does, this is just an example. The companies with 12,000 plus trucks, their cost is astronomical each month and at the end of the year. Now add insurance, drivers wages, maintenance and tires to this cost.

Super Single Tires Becoming More Common

18 tires are not cheap. A December 2009 add shows you can buy one on sale for $299.99. Put 8 on your trailer at $300 apiece, you have $2,400. Multiply this by many trucks and trailers in a years time, you again can see astronomical figures.

Several companies are going to or trying out on some of their trucks and trailers the Super Singles. Instead of 8 tires on the back end of the tractor, you have 4, and instead of 8 on the trailer you have 4. Reports show fuel mileage increases 3% or more due to less weight and better rolling resistance. Mileage per tire also increases. I pulled many trailers with Super Singles in the winter in the northern states. I really like them and did not have any problems. Each company will have to decide if these tires will be the best in the type of operations you have.

The Bottom Line For The Driver

The more money the driver can help employer save in fuel and tires could mean a pay raise and newer equipment.

Super Singles:

A single, wide wheel substituted for a tandem (two wheel) assembly. The main benefit of a super single is a reduction in weight and lower rolling resistance which provide better fuel economy. The disadvantage is the lack of tire redundancy (or a 'backup tire' in case of a blowout) from which tandem wheels benefit. A tire blowout is more dangerous with a super single and can not be driven on.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

by Brett Aquila

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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