Q. We hired an owner-operator as one of our fleet’s drivers in January. He has a grandfathered AOBRD. Can he still use it even if the rest of the fleet is using an ELD solution?

A In this situation, yes, the owner-operator employee can use his AOBRD as long as it was installed prior to the Dec. 18, 2017, ELD rule deadline.

This driver should be made aware, however, that he will have to upgrade to a certified ELD by December 2019. This is particularly important if this driver is a regular employee who expects to be employed with your fleet when the AOBRD exemption expires.

 

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Commentary: Parts Are Coming to a 3D Printer Near You

<p><strong>Denise Rondini</strong></p>

Daimler Trucks North America recently announced a pilot program to produce plastic parts using 3D printing. “The mission of this program is to embrace new technologies as a way to deliver service to our customers through better parts availability,” said Angela Timmen, aftersales purchasing manager for interior/exterior cab and major components for DTNA.

The pilot program is aimed at older trucks with hard-to-source parts and parts with long lead times, she explained, offering this scenario: “One hypothetical example might be an older aftermarket part that required significant investments to develop and tool when it was in production, but now only sells a few a year in the aftermarket. If the tool were to break, it might make sense to 3D print the replacement parts instead of repeating the original investments.”

Not only is this an economic decision, she said, but it also helps avoid making a fleet wait days or weeks for a replacement part.

The program is focusing on a variety of parts with different characteristics to allow the company to learn as much as possible during the pilot.

There are many who see more far-reaching consequences of 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing. “I see [3D printed parts] as being transformative,” said Eric Starks, chairman and CEO of FTR. “I think this will be one of the biggest trends we see in 2018 and into 2019. I believe every supplier in some capacity will have an additive manufacturing program before long.”

Both Starks and David Gerrard, managing partner at Cornerstone Growth Advisors, see 3D printing introducing more customization to the trucking industry. Timmen agreed: “In the future, technologies like 3D printing could give us new ways to mass-customize our trucks and provide better service to our customers.”

As with any new technology, 3D printing has its challenges. Gerrard enumerated some of them: “How big will the printers be? How fast will they be? How expensive? How versatile on the raw materials one can use to print parts? And maybe the biggest ones are, where will the printer be based and who will own it?”

Additive manufacturing has the potential to change the current supply chain. Gerrard wondered whether contract-manufacturing companies with locations scattered across the country could even take the place of parts distribution centers. “I think the mindset of this technology is thinking about moving from weeks to days to hours [to get parts],” he said. “As long as it takes cost and time out of the supply chain, then it is incredibly beneficial to fleets.”

Starks sees ramifications beyond just replacement parts. Depending on the size and scope of additive manufacturing, the way freight gets moved could change. “Let’s say there is a plastic piece of a component that is inexpensive and has traditionally come from offshore and moved through the ports to distribution centers. If parts are produced through additive manufacturing, you will be moving more commodities like plastics and resins and even metal and wood rather than finished goods.”

DTNA’s initial foray into 3D printed parts is a good way to test the waters and find out about fleet acceptance. “The industry is probably going to be less accepting of a critical part being made via additive manufacturing at first,” Starks said. However, he believes that once these non-critical parts prove their worth and have low failure rates, “then we will move fairly swiftly to using additive manufacturing for other, more critical parts.”

While DTNA has only launched a pilot program, Starks believes, “it actually will become a very robust system fairly quickly for the industry.”

 

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HDT’s Top 20 Products of 2018

<p><strong>The most significant trucking products for 2018 as chosen by Heavy Duty Trucking magazine's editors.</strong></p>

How do you go about choosing the best new product announcements of the past year? It’s not an easy process. First, HDT’s editors individually go back through all the products we reported on, in the magazine or on Truckinginfo.com, and pull out the ones we feel are the most significant.

The ones singled out by the most editors are summarized and sent to a small group of fleet professionals to evaluate — this year, it was our HDT Truck Fleet Innovators, as well as our Emerging Leaders.

Products are evaluated in three areas:

  • Innovation
  • Addressing industry issues
  • Potential to affect a fleet’s bottom line

In order to be considered, a product must be commercially available or reasonably expected to be commercially available this year. We don’t consider full vehicles. And we award only one product per company (joint ventures may be considered as a separate company.) The resulting Top 20 products are listed in alphabetical order by company name. This year, a tie in our fleet scoring resulted in us actually having 21 products.

The awards will be presented during individual ceremonies at the ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in early March and at MATS at the end of March.

1. Accuride Rolliant Hub System

The Accuride Rolliant Hub System was developed in response to industry demand for a more affordable hub system that was easy to install and maintain and could last the life of both trucks and trailers. Accuride says it’s the first long-life, low-maintenance hub system to come with a 10-year warranty for trailer applications and a seven-year warranty for trucks. Its patent-pending technology maintains tight wheel-bearing tolerances for safe, reliable performance, preventing premature tire wear, wheel seal failure, and premature bearing failure.

2. Ancra Cargo Security Divider and Deck Board

Ancra Cargo is offering a Security Divider and Deck Board, designed to keep freight separated and secure while in transit. The lightweight panels can be configured for use as a deck board or secure bulkhead. The high-density polyethylene panels are lighter than plywood sheets and won’t splinter. The Security Divider and Deck Board can be used with lockable E-Beams to provide a secure load divider for different load combinations. The panels have hand slots to improve ergonomics. Designed to offer both cargo theft prevention and protection from cargo damage while in transit, the dual use of the Security Divider and Deck Board offers versatility in cargo-carrying capacity, supporting double-decked loads when needed.

3. Carrier Transicold 35X

Carrier Transicold’s model 35X direct-drive unit provides an economical and environmentally friendly refrigeration option for perishable and frozen cargo in small- to medium-sized box trucks and large delivery vans. Producing up to 10,500 Btu at 35 degrees, the 35X includes an exterior-mounted condenser unit for the nose of a box truck or the roof of a van; a compressor that mounts to the truck engine; and a narrow-profile SlimLine evaporator that fits tightly to the ceiling of the cargo area, helping to maximize cargo space.

4. Cummins X12 engine

Cummins says its X12 12-liter engine, to be available this spring, will boast the highest power-to-weight ratio in the industry. Targeted at vocational, regional and weight-sensitive bulk-haul applications, it’s 600 lbs lighter than the closest 13L engine and 150 lbs lighter than the closest 11L engine, according to the company.

The X12 is a clean-slate design from the oil pan up. It was engineered to be a robust, lightweight, high-output engine using composites and advanced structural concepts to provide the needed strength without adding unnecessary weight.

5. Daimler Trucks North America Detroit DD8 engine

Aimed at vocational truck markets, the Detroit DD8 is a 7.7L in-line, 6-cylinder medium-duty engine offering 260 to 350 hp and 660 to 1050 lb.–ft. of torque. The DD8 expands on the Detroit medium-duty platform launched with the DD5. Daimler says the engine offers industry-leading fuel efficiency and maintenance intervals. The DD8 will launch with both engine and transmission power-take-off options required for many vocational applications.

6. Dana lightweight driveshafts

Dana’s SPL 350 Lite and SPL 250 Lite driveshafts are designed to be a lightweight option addressing some challenges of today’s downsped driveline applications, where the lower numeric axle ratios can cause significant stress to the drivetrain and alter harmonics in driveline components. Designed with fewer components to reduce weight and enable faster installation, the driveshaft series has been engineered for reduced noise/vibration/ harshness levels, improved performance, and improved vehicle dynamics without compromising strength, resulting in extended component life and reduced maintenance while reducing weight by 25 to 35 pounds.

7. Eaton Cummins Endurant/Paccar Automated Transmission

The first product from the Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies joint venture, the Endurant 12-speed was designed from the ground up as an automated transmission. A Paccar version, the Paccar Automated Transmission, is calibrated specifically to work with Paccar’s MX-13 engine. Features include light weight; internal electrical system routing to minimize exposure and corrosion; a transmission fluid pressure sensor that notifies drivers of low oil levels; smooth and intuitive shift strategies; predictive shifting using look-ahead; a standard, 8-bolt PTO opening; and 750,000-mile lube change intervals for linehaul applications. Currently available for use with the Cummins X15, the Endurant will be available soon for use with other engines.

8. Grote Smart Guardian Trailer System

Grote’s Guardian Smart Trailer System is designed to monitor a trailer’s lighting system and alert an operator to any status changes through the telematics system. It attaches to any type of light, LED or incandescent, and gives drivers real-time alerts about their trailer lighting systems, communicating light outages and electrical shorts, logging information on status changes, and providing data analysis tools. The system can be connected through the trailer’s telematics system, or via Bluetooth to the operator’s Apple or Android device through Grote’s Guardian Smart Trailer System app.

9. Haldex Intelligent Trailer Control Module

The Haldex Intelligent Trailer Control Module expands the capability of trailer ABS to include faster communication and increased functionality. With two communication protocols – Power Line Carrier (PLC) and Controller Area Network (CAN) – the ITCM offers multiple auxiliary ports to connect devices such as trailer roll stability control, trailer lift axle control, and brake monitoring control. It also can monitor open doors, lights left on, brake lining wear sensors, actuator stroke sensing, etc. External system monitoring reports on non-Haldex systems such as tire pressure monitoring. The system can be integrated into fleet GPS systems, and in-cab warnings are provided through the existing ABS dash lamp.

10. Hendrickson Traxx Rod

Hendrickson says its new Traxx Rod series of fabricated, lightweight torque rods will last up to three times longer than conventional forged or cast torque rods.

The rods have an advanced bushing design and innovative construction using high-strength materials and robotic welding. Traxx Rod bushings and rod bodies are specifically designed for each capacity and application criteria, the company says. The flexible rod design can accommodate a straddle- or taper-pin bushing, and will package with any hub size and length.

11. Hyliion 6X4HE

Hyliion’s 6X4HE system, an electric-powered axle for highway truck-tractors, generates electric power on downgrades or while coasting, and supplies supplemental power during launch and on upgrades. It offers substantial fuel savings, lowers exhaust emissions, and eases work for the driver. A Hyliion axle replaces a 6x2 truck’s non-driven dead axle or is added to a 4x2 truck, turning either into a 6x4. Existing 6x4 tractors can be converted by removing one mechanically driven axle and replacing it with a Hyliion axle.

12. Jost JSK37USK air-release fifth wheel with sensor

Jost International’s JSK37USK series air-release fifth wheel has sensor technology that allows the driver to confirm that the fifth wheel is safely and properly coupled, preventing dropped trailers and making life easier and safer for the driver.  The company says the streamlining associated with the increasing number of aerodynamic technologies on trailers makes physically accessing the fifth wheel for uncoupling, and visually confirming a safe couple, difficult at best. This technology addresses that issue.

13. Kinedyne curtain-side solutions

Kinedyne’s new curtain-side trailer and body products help make cargo access faster and easier in the age of e-commerce. A lightweight, load-rated curtain-side system is engineered to restrain lateral cargo movement. With rapid access on both ends, the cargo space can be opened and closed within seconds. A load-rated curtain combines the access of a flatbed with a van’s walled structure. At this time in the U.S., those loads must still be otherwise restrained, but Kinedyne is working to get regulations changed to reflect those in Europe, where load-rated curtains are a legal securement device. In addition, a double-decking system for curtain-side systems lets users optimize cargo capacity. A fast-access curtain-side system for the urban core is designed for truck bodies up to 28 feet. And a flexible quick-release latching system for curtain-side operations replaces cumbersome buckle closures and heavy roll-up doors.

14. Mac Total Area Lighting Kit

Mac Liquid Tank Trailers developed an auxiliary lighting system for gasoline trailers intended to improve safety during nighttime filling station deliveries. The Total Area Lighting Kit, or Talk, provides bright white LED light strips above the discharge tube area and on the steps of the ladder to help drivers see what they are doing in darkness. Two 8-foot-long light bars swing out from stowed mounting positions along the body of the trailer. These have red LEDs on the front and back and strobe lights on the tips to provide an obvious work-zone barrier. White LED strips along the bottom of the bars light up the work area.

15. Marangoni retread for spread axle trailers

Corners are tough on the tires on a spread-axle or multi-axle trailer, as tires drag and shoulders twist, scrape and scrub. Marangoni Tread North America addressed the problem with its Ringtread RTL SA 16/32”, which it added to its line of XP Extreme Performance line of Splice-Less retreads. The RTL SA includes a combination of Marangoni’s Ringtread technology and a compound that increases mileage and reduces premature wear when used in spread-axle or multi-axle trailer applications.

16. Meritor 14X HE tandem drive axle

Meritor says the 14X HE high-efficiency linehaul tandem drive axle takes efficiency to a new level. Axle efficiency was improved up to 1.5% while cutting weight by 30 pounds. The 14X HE comes standard with high-efficiency bearings, and spiral bevel gearing with precision finished gears for reduced friction. The Meritor Lube Management system is an innovative passive system that uses the ring gear to flow oil through channels in the housing directing it to the wheel ends. Meritor also uses laser welding to manufacture components to reduce weight and drive efficiencies.

17. Navistar A26 engine

Navistar says its new family of diesel engines will allow the company to not only regain the ground it lost during the divisive EGR-SCR wars of the early 2000s, but to also stake a claim as a diesel engine technology leader. The 12.4L diesel is the first product of Project Alpha, a program designed to cast off old, stratified engine design thinking. It’s a big performer in a lighter package, and that will earn it points in the bulk sector, while truckload fleets will like its fuel economy potential and extended maintenance intervals.

18. SmartDrive SmartSense for Distracted Driving

SmartDrive’s new SmartSense intelligent driver-assist sensors are designed to identify dangerous driving risks. By combining purpose-built sensors with engine computer data, telematics, accelerometer, and SmartDrive’s camera-based analytic data, the company says, it can more accurately identify risk. The first sensor in the suite is SmartSense for Distracted Driving. Instead of relying exclusively on vehicle maneuvers, such as hard braking or lane departure, the system interprets driver cues that indicate distraction, such as head and eye movements. When the sensor detects distraction, inattention or drowsiness, it triggers a video, which is prioritized and offloaded for immediate verification and intervention.

19. Thermo King power management

Thermo King’s power management portfolio includes the new Boost Charger, Auto-Start Module, and Electric Power Jack Charger. The Boost Charger’s three-stage battery charging is designed to maximize battery life. It ensures that tractor power can be matched with other methods of power generation in a smart manner, and through the seven-way circuit, delivers power safely. The Auto-Start Module automatically activates the Precedent-Series alternator to charge if power levels drop too low. It also provides low-voltage protection for the auxiliary battery. And the Electric Power Jack Charger delivers 120 volts to the inside of trailers, powered directly from the liftgate battery pack, with built-in lower voltage protection.

20. Truck-Lite Road Ready

Truck-Lite entered the telematics market with its Road Ready trailer monitoring and communication system, a wireless “smart” trailer system centered on the solar-powered Master Control Unit. The MCU monitors and transmits crucial data from customizable Road Ready sensors to a user interface without using power from the tractor. The network data can also be managed via application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate with existing fleet systems. The agnostic system is designed to be compatible with leading ABS, tire and LED lighting systems.

21. Wabco OptiFlow AutoTail

The Wabco OptiFlow AutoTail automatically deploys at 45 mph and closes at 10 mph, drawing on speed data from the trailer’s antilock braking system. The automated opening helps ensure that the potential aerodynamic benefits of the trailer boattail are always realized at highway speeds, while auto closing will help ensure the equipment is not damaged when a trailer is backed into a loading dock. Rather than using hinges, the panels use cantilevers to swing into place. They’re also shaped for better aerodynamics and made of injection-molded thermoplastic.

 

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Trailer Orders Extend Hot Streak Into 2018

<p><strong>January continued a three-month stretch of elevated trailer orders. Reefer orders were particularly strong.&nbsp;&nbsp;</strong><em>Photo: Carrier Transicold</em></p>

Trailer orders in January will likely breach 39,000 units once the final numbers are tallied, indicating a strong start to 2018,  according to preliminary reports released by FTR and by ACT Research.

January orders are up 22% year-over-year at 39,100 units according to ACT Research. It is the third consecutive month of strong trailer orders. Despite the strong showing, trailer orders were actually down slightly from December when trailer orders hit an all-time high volume. They are also down slightly from November, but overall, analysts consider it to be a strong three-month stretch.

“This continues a string of extremely solid order placement. November and December of last year, along with January of this year, rank as the third, second, and fifth highest order months in industry history,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research. “Tight trucking capacity and solid freight rates are supporting both fleet needs and investment ability. Lengthening industry backlogs also encourage fleets to join industry orderboards.”

Dry van orders were higher for the month and refrigerated van orders were particularly strong, coming in 250% better than for Jan. 2017, according to ACT Research.  A strong economy has led to consistent freight growth and fleets are buying more trailers and trucks to add capacity to their fleets as a result, according to FTR.

“Carriers continue to add trailers as a way to increase total productivity.  All trailer segments are now looking very bright for 2018,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “Overall business confidence is surging due to tax reform and it’s making a hot market even hotter.”

 

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