Should I Rent or Buy My Reefer Truck Fleet?

November 1, 2017Anantha C
Blog post

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Refrigerated Trucks:

When shipping food, pharmaceuticals, and other temperature-sensitive goods, it can be difficult to decide whether renting or buying reefer trucks is the best choice. Unfortunately, there is no “right” answer to this question for businesses that have to monitor a cold-chain in the storage and delivery of goods. As is the case with so many other decisions in your business, it comes down to evaluating your needs and options and making the most cost-effective decision.

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There are many scenarios in which a short-term rental makes sense, and other scenarios where longer leases or buying a fleet are better options. It’s important to consider temporary fleet needs such as seasonal or peak business times. If your business is largely seasonal, you should certainly consider commercial truck rental as an option.

When Renting Makes Sense?

Truck rental can be cost effective for seasonal businesses because it allows you to avoid carrying the overhead of a fleet during your off-season. For example, if you’re a manufacturer of vaccinations, and flu season is the peak of your business, it may not make sense to maintain a fleet of trucks year-round.

Short-term rentals are also a good option for businesses with project-based needs. If, for instance, you’re a food distributor with a short-term restaurant contract, you can tailor your rental contract to the needs of the job. And if needs or demand changes throughout the contract, different trucks can be easily exchanged.

In any case where there is a need for flexibility, renting can be far more cost-effective than investing the capital to lease or buy a fleet.

Maintenance Costs:

It’s also important to consider maintenance issues and their costs. If your fleet utilization is high, even one broken-down truck can mean undelivered or wasted products. Renting not only allows you to avoid assuming some maintenance costs, but it can also be a good and fast solution to replacing out-of-commission trucks until they can be repaired.

Environmental concerns and the rising cost of diesel can also lead businesses to choose renting their fleet. New regulations for diesel engines have led to increased truck prices that can also make renting a compelling option for cold-chain businesses.

When Buying Makes Sense:

If delivering refrigerated and frozen food, or medications and vaccines is your main business and your transport demand is steady year-round, purchasing a reefer truck fleet can be the best option. Renting trucks all year long will certainly be more expensive in the long-run.

Owning your own fleet comes with its set of maintenance challenges and costs, of course, but there are also benefits. For example, by purchasing your fleet you can acquire exactly the features and functionality that are best suited to the business you’re in and the goods you’re transporting, whereas the options available in rental fleets may be limited. Choosing the options you need for your business allows you to better control things like airflow during transport. It also allows you to establish guidelines for shipping that don’t have to be amended each time a different model or fleet of trucks is rented. This makes it easier for distribution managers to establish best practices and manage quality assurance.

Avoiding mileage limitations:

When renting or leasing a fleet of trucks there can be mileage limitations and overage fees can mount quickly. If your business requires the transport of refrigerated and frozen goods from coast to coast, or even throughout an entire region, purchasing allows you to mitigate some of these limitations and costs.

Tailoring Your Fleet to Your Needs:

No matter which option you choose, it’s important that you have the functionality and flexibility your business needs to succeed. In the long term, reefer truck rental rates will always be higher than purchasing. If you find that you are renting three to four times a week, purchasing will likely be cost effective.

If you do purchase your fleet, you may also consider subleasing options for outside businesses. By leasing some, or all, of your fleet during your downtime you may be able to recoup some of the capital investment and maintenance cost for your fleet.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll want to consider how you’ll monitor the temperature within your truck fleet. Quality real-time temperature solutions can be tailored to rented or owned fleets. In rented fleets you’ll want to choose a temperature monitoring solution that can be easily transferred from truck to truck, while still operating at maximum efficiency.

If you’d like to learn more about the best real-time temperature monitoring solutions for your rented or owned reefer truck fleet, contact Nimble Wireless. We offer a variety of wireless temperature monitors to meet your needs. Our monitors alert your in real time via SMS/text alert the minute a temperature variance occurs. And, our reliable GPS functionality allows you to monitor your reefer truck fleet at all times.

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