As trucking companies continue their never-ending quest to control high operating costs such as fuel, labor and emissions technologies, solutions offered by aftermarket and service providers are must-haves for truckers and fleets to be more efficient and gain a competitive edge in a crowded arena. At least, that’s what they want you believe. And online return-on-investment (ROI) calculators are among their more commonly offered tools of persuasion.

In fact, even the federal government is in on it. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers an ROI calculator to help trucking companies understand how investing in technologies that reduce fuel consumption and emissions will pay off in the long run. The great thing about the EPA tool is that it covers investments for a range of products—such as APUs, aerodynamics, bunk heaters, automatic tire inflation, single-wide tires and oxidation catalysts.

Thermo King yesterday introduced a ROI calculator for its TriPac Auxiliary Idle Reduction and Temperature Management System. Through this online tool, customers can generate a detailed report for either a single tractor or an entire fleet. The report breaks down factors such as fuel usage, maintenance and operating cost comparisons.

This week, Trincon Group announced it has developed an electronic worksheet for calculating the costs of driver turnover—a tool it makes available for free through its website. The worksheet uses activity-based cost accounting to measure the effects of lost productivity and revenue associated with driver turnover, idle trucks and time spent recruiting, orientating and training new drivers.

“We are often asked to demonstrate the true costs of driver turnover and many people are astounded when they learn how much of an effect it can have on a company’s bottom line,” said Trincon president Duff Swain.

The Meritor Tire Inflation System by Pressure Systems International is another example of a website with an ROI calculator.

Of course, these are but a few examples of so-called ROI calculators, which when combined with the web, offer an excellent jumping-off point for business owners to research whether these solutions and products will indeed make them more competitive and fiscally fit for the long haul.

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