The ROI of Freightliner in Highly Specialized Industries

Freightliner Trucks
Severe Duty Newsletter
Freightliner with Side Wheel

In vocational trucking, the body of the truck is often the workhorse. This is especially true in niche markets, so Freightliner makes it a priority to work with customers and TEMs to streamline the upfit process.

This type of working relationship recently helped GCR Tires & Service upfit a new tire handler to service its fleet. GCR Tires & Service, part of Bridgestone Americas Tire Manufacturing Company, is the largest commercial tire sales and service organization in the U.S. The company started in 1945 and has about 200 stores across the nation. GCR Tires & Service works with a vast range of heavy duty wheeled equipment, from agriculture, to construction, to mining. Working with heavy duty equipment means working with heavy duty tires.

The tires for these trucks can weigh up to 17,000 pounds and span 12 feet in diameter each. Needless to say, GCR Tires & Service needs a tough truck just to move and manipulate these tires, and the Freightliner® 114SD fits the bill.

Jim Cowan, manager, National Fleet Operations of GCR Tires & Service, says the company has been purchasing Freightliner trucks almost exclusively over the past year. Jim and his team spend a lot of time collecting data on the trucks in their fleet and crunching the numbers to determine which truck delivered the best return on investment. His team keeps tabs on where each truck is deployed, mileage, maintenance schedule, and data from the field on usage and efficiency. GCR uses the information to spec trucks to improve their longevity and increase their performance. This command of the data on the fleet led GCR Tires & Service to select Freightliner Trucks as the preferred supplier.

“The choice of Freightliner was made in consultation with field and industry experts,” said Cowan. “It was based on the findings from a nine month analysis of what we had in the field and what kind of life we got out of each truck. We’ve had a lot of issues with the durability of other trucks, so we made the switch to Freightliner. Our trucks are being replaced over time as we redesign the service trucks themselves.”

One of the GCR service trucks is a tire handler that is mounted on a Freightliner 114SD and was upfitted by Stellar Industries in Garner, Iowa. It is used on mining sites, where it picks up and changes tires that are up to eight feet in diameter and up to 12,000 pounds. When manipulating such large items, it’s important that the vehicle is stable and the operators are safe. Cowan likes the ergonomic Freightliner cabs because they provide good visibility and comfort in addition to longevity in the field. He also noted the available configurations as a deciding factor for this highly specialized industry.

The Freightliner 114SD features the SmartPlex® Electrical System, which simplifies the chassis-to-body electrical integration and installation of custom programming for easier upfit. It also has an efficient factory chassis layout that streamlines the upfit process for TEMs.

“There are only three companies in the U.S. that build tire trucks, and each application can be a little more specialized,” said Cowan. “Freightliner’s ability to work with our upfitters on the design so that upfit is as easy as possible allows us to get a long life out of each truck.”