Dynamic Dozen

| September 02, 2009

Assuming 12 bypasses,
$2.50/gallon diesel, $1.50/mile revenue
Time saved: 60 minutes $90
Fuel saved: 4.8 gallons +$12
= $102
Cost -$16
PrePass, Overdrive 2009 Owner-Operator Market Behavior Report

Oil bypass filtration
Though oil bypass filters are standard equipment in some engines – Volvo’s D11 and D13 and the Cummins ISX, for instance – manufacturers continue to impose an upper limit for oil changes. Aftermarket bypass system makers and their users, however, make it possible to extend drain intervals indefinitely by routing engine oil through an extra high-density filter or set of filters and focusing service efforts on filter changes, oil analysis and adding a few gallons of makeup oil.

Owner-operator Salmon, for instance, runs the Gulf Coast Filters bypass system (gulfcoastfilters.com) and typically drains the pan oil from his 1999 Kenworth W900 once every 100,000 miles. Instead of draining the system, he changes his full-flow and bypass filters and adds three gallons of makeup oil every 12,000-15,000 miles, getting an oil analysis from Titan Laboratories each time. It all amounts to around “$70 every 12,000 miles versus $200 for an oil change,” he says.

Others have extended their oil changes indefinitely, particularly when combining bypass filtration with synthetic oil use and oil analysis. Texas owner-operator David Leal runs an Amsoil synthetic combined with a bypass filtration system from Amsoil dealer Jim Fleschner (thegreatestoil.com). Leal’s on a 25,000-mile filter change interval in a 2000 Western Star with nearly a million miles. He hasn’t drained his oil in more than 360,000 miles. Since he began using bypass filtration with synthetics in 2006, he’s upped his fuel mileage from 4.5 to 6.75 in the same operation, hauling van freight for Minneapolis-based BJ Transport, partly attributable, he says, to the new oil program. Like Salmon, he attributes the longevity of his Cat 3406E engine in part to bypass filtration and its ability to keep ever finer particles of soot out of the power-producing parts.

Payback time for bypass filtration will vary according to the drain extension you’re able to achieve, but with Salmon and Leal, it was under a year. If your engine is under warranty, consult the manufacturer before extending drain intervals.

Bypass first-year payback
Yearly oil changes ($200 per change) – $2,000
Cost of changes w/bypass – $200
Cost four filter changes w/ makeup oil – $400
Total start-up cost of bypass system – $800
SAVINGS = $600

Tire pressure systems
PressurePro’s tire pressure monitoring system (advantagepressurepro.com) combines “smart” pressure sensors ($50 each) on a tractor’s tires that communicate with a central monitor ($195, 34-wheel-capable) in the cab to keep track of real-time pressure in each monitored tire. The full 18-wheel system installed would amount to a $1,145 investment, says Duane Sprague, CEO of PressurePro’s North American distributor L&S Safety Solutions.

The system can pay for itself by avoiding just one road call where the tire must be replaced. It gives the driver a warning when a tire is 12 percent down on air.

“The tire’s not traumatized at 12 percent down,” Sprague says. “You get alerted and the driver now watches it, watches it. If he gets out with his onboard air source and gets it back up to recommended pressure, he can finish a normal delivery schedule and get it back to the yard or shop and get it fixed.”

SmarTire by Bendix (smartire.com) has similar benefits, and takes temperature into account to avoid alerts triggered by the pressure increase that can come from driving. “If you start with 100 psi cold pressure, you can get to as high as 125 psi by running over the road,” says Greg Tooke, Bendix product manager. SmarTire kits cost an average of $1,000, Tooke says.

Going one step further for trailer tires is the Meritor Tire Inflation System by Pressure Systems International (psi-atis.com). The MTIS taps the trailer air system, routing air through the hollow trailer axles and into the trailer tires to keep them properly inflated. “In the drives and steers it’s a lot more complicated because there’s no place to route the air,” says company rep Al Cohn.

Cohn calls pressure monitoring systems “great, but they still require human intervention to get air. For owner-operators, the guys that own their own trailers, adding air on the fly has many advantages – your mileage and fuel economy will be good, but you’re not going to have any trailer tire-related service call.”

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