Back in 2011, seeking to further cut operating costs, Brock Ackerman, president of refrigerated carrier K&B Transportation, took a look at an automatic tire-inflation system for trailer tires.

According to Ackerman, he was so impressed with the potential for savings from reduced tire wear that it presented he “immediately decided to retrofit 150 units already built with the system.” Then he quickly opted to buy 825 more of the systems for the remainder of that trailer build.

Based in South Sioux City, NE, IA, the family-owned firm was launched with 25 trucks in 1987 by Ken Ackerman. Today, the fleet numbers some 600 company-owned tractors and over 1,000 trailers and ranks among the nation’s largest for- hire temperature-controlled carriers.

K&B’s service area roughly covers the middle third of the country, extending from Colorado to Ohio and Minnesota to Texas. K&B also provides service between that broad area and Georgia as well as to and from the Pacific Northwest.

Ackerman spoke yesterday at a fleet seminar held in San Antonio by Pressure Systems International (PSI), which developed and manufactures the automatic tire-inflation system for trailer tires that is marketed by Meritor as the Meritor Tire Inflation System [MTIS] by PSI.

Frank Sonzala, executive vp of PSI, noted that Ackerman had volunteered to talk about his experience with MITS by PSI at the seminar to share what he felt was very good news with other fleets.

“It was a simple decision to make,” Ackerman related. “MTIS by PSI provides proper and uniform inflation of trailer tires and that reduces tire wear, which lowers our operating costs.”

No slouch when it comes to managing those costs—the fleet currently reports an operating ratio of 95—K&B has realized a significant savings from implementing the system.

“Thanks to the inflation system, we’ve recorded a $.0084 savings in operating cost per mile from reduced tire wear, based on the 69-million miles we ran last year,” stated Ackerman.

What’s more, Ackerman credits the inflation system for a reduction in tire-related CSA points garnered by the carrier and for fewer emergency road calls.

In addition, he said because the system keeps tires inflated after a leak develops, “we can direct service calls to the vendor of our choice to avoid making higher-priced purchases that are not through our national accounts.” Ackerman said having automatic inflation also means the fleet “has the ability to fit tire repairs into the time frame that works” for its operations.

“MTIS by PSI is unquestionably the best investment K&B has ever made in an optional piece of equipment for a tractor or trailer in respect to return on investment,” Ackerman wrapped up.

The fleet seminar, part of a series offered by the supplier in recent years, was also an opportunity for PSI to mark its 20th anniversary in business.

The San Antonio-based firm, led by president Tim Musgrave, invented the automatic tire-inflation system that PSI has been marketing through its agreement with Meritor.

PSI holds 33 patents and has 14 patents pending for its automatic tire-inflation system for truck-trailer tires, which is available either installed by a trailer OEM or by retrofitting.

In addition to the U.S., the system is now sold in 40 other countries. The complete system continues to be assembled only in PSI's lone plant, which is housed in the same San Antonio building as the company's headquarters.

In January, PSI reported that due to increasing demand for the system, the San Antonio plant had seen its employment level for 2012 jump by 23%-- that after it had climbed 21% in 2010.

According to PSI, its 2012 sales were the highest in the company’s history. The company stated that in the U.S. 92% of fleets that use automatic tire-inflation systems now opt for MTIS by PSI and that approximately 36% of all new trailers are equipped with the system.