The true cost of a Drain

11 April 2019
Posted in Business, Q & A
11 April 2019 nicolas

The true cost of a Drain

Close-up of oil draining into container after man removed bolt while changing oil. An old comforter is on the garage floor to catch drips.

Regularly, when we present the nitiFilter ® , the first reaction of our interlocutor is to compare the gross price of the product with the price of a filter and the price of the oil replaced during the drain . If this gives a first indication, this simplistic approach neglects other direct costs but also all indirect costs. Especially if you manage a fleet and are interested in its TCO, you know that the price of a drain goes beyond its apparent simplicity. So, in fact, the true cost of a drain is actually several times higher than the gross cost of the oil and filter . Among the direct costs , there is the cost of labor, the cost of waste management (used filter, dirty oil), possibly the price of oil analysis and therefore the cost of oil and filter. Among the indirect costs , there is the downtime cost, the storage cost (oil and filter), the cost of the whole the control process (filter and oil) and waste management, handling costs /compliance with health and environmental standards (cleaning spills etc., safety equipment), the costs of “supervision” of these works and all specific risks induced during a drain and the generic risks related to the oil.

direct costs

cost of labor

It is easy to understand, both by a professional and by an individual. It is necessary and sufficient to multiply the hourly cost by the duration of intervention, but as often the subtlety is in detail. The hourly cost is extremely variable (30 € /h to 150 € /h – if it is possible, look at the invoice of your last interview). And for the intervention time, we must take into account not only the intervention itself (very variable depending on your vehicle and the positioning of the filter and the drain plug), but also the time of “preparation”: moving the vehicle, preparation and storage of tools, preparation of the filter and oil. Even for those who do their own emptying, this time exists and, unless you prefer this ungrateful task, messy and harmful to health, it is time lost for you and those around you

waste management cost

The used oil and the used filter are “toxic” waste requiring special treatment. And if you buy the oil in a can, the empty can itself is not a waste like the others. You must dispose of it properly, via a specialized company or in dedicated places. This cost is straightforward, either explicitly – the paying collection is allowed in metropolitan France since 2016 – either implicitly: it will be drowned in administrative /service charges. But recycling has a cost, and in the end it’s up to you to pay it. Knowing that the oil recycling sector, which is very efficient in France, is periodically in crisis 1 , 2 , 3 and very dependent on the cost of petroleum products, these costs are there to last and and its price can only increase .

cost of oil analysis

If you are a fleet manager, this is well known. Before being a problem, the oil is above all a very good way to know beforehand the problems on the engine. Also drain the oil, which is not necessarily required depending on the condition of the oil, is also completely inefficient since it is deprived of all clues before runners of a failure on the engine. And since your job is not to drain but to ensure hardware availability , it’s usually a well-integrated operation. But here too, from taking the sample to sending it to a specialized laboratory and then processing the results, this requires labor time in addition to the gross cost of the analysis itself.

cost of oil and oil filter

No need to insist on this point, except to point out the extreme variability of oil prices (2 € to 10 € per liter), its significant increase with “modern” oils ( synthesis). The price of filters is also variable, often around ten euros for light vehicles but up to several tens of euros on trucks

indirect costs

downtime cost

This is probably the first “unitary” cost related to a drain. It is simply because you can not use your vehicle for a certain period of time. This unavailability time must include the entire unavailability and not the simple intervention time. Depending on organizational constraints, it takes between 1/2 day to a full day. To estimate the true price, several methods are possible:

  • carriers are used to using the daily term : it corresponds to vehicle financing and renewal, insurance, axle tax, and indirect structural costs – in France in transport it is estimated by the CNR between 150 € and 200 € /d
  • you can have a more financial approach: it’s the equivalent of an asset
  • in a more pragmatic way, it’s simply the cost of losing business and the price of the one-time replacement vehicle and all the related costs – unless you have an onsite workshop there must be added the costs associated with the various journeys necessary to bring the vehicle to its maintenance: while waiting for autonomous vehicles, it is necessary a driver to drive the vehicle back and forth, it is necessary to provide means of transport for it to return from the garage at his place of work then to go back, and do not forget to put a price on all this lost time.

storage cost

The costs relative to the filter are of two kinds:

  1. the purely financial costs of having to spend money to build a stock of filters for all your references
  2. the costs, rather modest a priori, storage space to provide

The costs related to the oil are of the same order (immobilization and space) to which must be added the specific arrangements required to take into account the environmental and health risks: tank, retention tank (in case of overflow or leakage of tanks), distribution pump, possibly ventilation etc …

order cost

In terms of cost, the best recipe to reduce them is not having to do the work – if you want to reduce the cost of the administrative support necessary to ensure the orders, the follow-up of the deliveries, the management of the stock, the best remains of do not have to handle all this.

waste management cost

We are not talking here about direct costs, but related elements that are added to the price paid: gloves, tea towels, absorption products etc …. it is necessary not only to buy them, store them but also treat them in a special way because they are soiled waste therefore for which the treatment by a specialized company at a price

Specific risks

These are the risks of handling a product, which is notoriously toxic.

Oil Change and Health

Obviously we emphasize here that the oil is composed of many elements harmful to health such as heavy metals, organic acids, phthalates, phenols, and aromatic compounds – its manipulation is not completely innocuous: by example regular contact with oil causes skin diseases and increases the risk of skin cancer. We must also add the risks more down to earth: backache related to the handling of cans and positions by necessarily very comfortable to perform the emptying itself, involuntary slips on oil stains etc …

The mistake is human

If the emptying is not in itself a very sophisticated technical gesture, the simple fact of adding this operation generates a multitude of risks compared to the lubrication: bad reference of oil added, complete forgetfulness of addition of oil or oil level too low, on the contrary too full of oil, drain plug badly or not delivered etc … All this goes from the fright to the engine breakage. So its price goes from a few euros (it must correct the problem) to thousands of euros.

Generic Risks

This is a particularly dirty product , which is therefore environmentally hazardous and therefore can seriously damage your reputation and image. Just search in the news on your favorite search engine “oil pollution drain” to convince you both of the frequency of this type of pollution and the variety of its causes, natural (flood) step (malice) ). And do not forget that the oil is obviously flammable, so you add a risk both by storage and during handling – fires related to emptying are not rare events and unfortunately they have regular human consequences drama 4 , 5 in addition to the material consequences. In summary, there are many “extra” costs associated with emptying – some believe that the true price of a drain is almost 40x the price of oil alone , and they have serious arguments. Your own calculations can give you a slightly different result but it is the order of magnitude that must be in mind (typically at least 900 € for a truck drain). Each focuses on the costs that have a direct impact on their budget. But ignoring the costs of maintaining support overhead and ancillary functions required for its business , gives a whimsical insight into the “real” price of an oil change.

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