On the road again

Fleets from all over North America, Europe and Asia flocked to the Georgia World Congress Center between 24-27 February to partake in the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC).

Event organisers claim the event’s origins date back to the 1950s when it was just a small equipment forum. Today, it has grown to become a major point of convergence for the showcase, discussion and celebration of new trucking-related products and services. It has become an essential part of North America’s road transport industry.

The future of intermodal
CIE Manufacturing provides chassis and after-sales support to the North American transportation market through its CIE Dealer Network composed of more than 60 locations. For Trevor Ash, Executive Vice President at CIE Manufacturing, ‘innovation’ and evolution’ were the core messages at this year’s TMC.

“During turbulent economic times, and through pandemics and other global uncertainties, CIE feels the responsibility of being the largest manufacturer of intermodal container chassis, and a leader in the intermodal industry,” he said. “It is vital that we constantly seek out and create innovations that will streamline and foster the most cost-efficient solutions for our customers. It is for that reason that CIE presented our Revere premier chassis line to an audience of technologically savvy and safety-minded professionals at TMC and welcomed their feedback and questions.”

CIE held a press conference at the event to showcase its revolutionary Revere chassis line which is now available in a range of models including 20/40’ City Combo (tridem, tandem); 23.5’ Slider (tandem); 33’ Slider (tridem); 40’ Gooseneck (tandem, tridem); 40/45’ Extendable (tandem, tridem); 43’ Drop Frame (tandem); and 53’ Gooseneck (tandem).

Ash thanked the ATA for that opportunity to present its latest innovations. “We listened to the concerns and needs of our customers and as a result created the Revere. They asked for a chassis with superior quality and safety, and we gave them a chassis with a 10-year warranty on all non-wear parts, including a KTL powder coat system that resists cracking, chipping, rust and corrosion and the highest quality components that our suppliers have to offer. Just as the ATA and TMC are setting standards for the trucking industry, CIE has now set a new standard for container chassis in the modern world.”

TMC, according to CIE, is a vital resource for fleet equipment professionals.

“TMC uses not only the knowledge of fleet executives, OEMs and suppliers, but that of those professionals who actually perform maintenance on today’s technologically advancing fleets, to set industry standards and guidelines that will literally keep America moving,” said Ash. “The 2020 Annual Meeting unveils these standards to the entire industry and invites meaningful conversation about the future of trucking.”

On the topic of industry trends in road transport, Ash said telematics and advanced trailer technologies are the future of road transportation and will continue to lead the conversation with fleets. “It is for this reason that CIE Manufacturing entered into a Preferred Partner Agreement with Phillips Connect Technologies for our customers who are looking at telematics on their intermodal chassis for increased efficiency and unparalleled ROI, and we were pleased to display these advanced technologies on our show chassis at TMC. As CIE’s continues to Lead the Intermodal Evolution we realise that telematics will play a crucial role.”

Ash said TMC provided exceptional educational opportunities as well as opportunities for CIE to meet with its contemporaries in the trucking industry. “We were able to continue the discussion of the benefits of considering intermodal as a solution to many difficulties that our fleet friends are currently experiencing. It is our belief that the trucking and intermodal industries together can create the most cost-efficient strategies to keep America moving at an even greater pace.”

TMC, Ash noted, take great care to provide recognition to those members who have made extraordinary contributions during the year. “CIE was proud to sponsor the TMC Annual Awards Luncheon, and to witness these recognitions,” she said. “It is easy to see why TMC has such loyal members who are diligent in their advocacy of the trucking industry. We also thank TMC for the opportunity to speak during the luncheon about the continuing evolution of CIE Manufacturing as we expand our manufacturing capabilities into North America. And, of course, TMC always provides the best entertainment and The Marshal Tucker Band was an excellent way to finish the week.”

In light of the spread of Covid-19, Ash honourably mentions all the truck drivers who during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, continue to keep the North American supply chain moving and the economy running. “They are not in a profession where they can stay home and isolate themselves, or take days off until the worst has passed. They are enduring closed truck stops and closed conveniences of all kinds, and without fanfare, they have kept our stores stocked and our businesses open. Our hats are off to the truck driving community.”

Zero emission and composite reefer solution
As more electric vehicle and component solutions become commercially available in the light- to medium-duty market, regional and long-haul fleets also seek opportunities to reap the benefits of electrification. Wabash National and C&S Wholesale Grocers presented a road-ready zero-emissions 48’ refrigerated trailer at TMC.

“We’ve seen a lot of prototype and concept electric vehicles and trailers over the years, but no one has yet to demonstrate real viability of a roadworthy zero-emissions tractor-trailer for refrigerated hauls due to the location and size of batteries,” said Robert Lane, Wabash National’s vice president, product innovations. “This is the first time a major box innovation has been coupled with a major [Trailer Refrigeration Unit — TRU] innovation that results in breakthrough customer value in a sustainable format. MSC provides a unique platform for electric powered TRUs. The large gain in thermal efficiencies allow a customer to either downsize the batteries required to haul cargo or increase the run time on a battery setup.”

Wabash National’s MSC reefer is reported to set new standards in efficiency with optimised thermal performance, maximised payload capacity, corrosion resistance and the industry’s highest standard floor rating. Designed and constructed with advanced moulded structural composite (MSC) technology, the MSC reefer is up to 30 per cent more thermally efficient than a conventional refrigerated trailer, reducing fleets’ operating costs by running fewer hours, using less fuel and lasting longer.

“We’re putting units into our fleet that depend heavily on solar and battery power for the truck and TRU,” explained Chris Trajkovski, Vice President, Fleet Maintenance and DOT Safety Compliance at C&S Wholesale Grocers, the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the US. “We think the additional protection that comes from the Wabash MSC insulation package will be a nice match for the TRU technology so the reefer is not running to help us make the delivery efficiently. We expect the TRU to work less with Wabash National’s composite design.”

“When we look at the tractor-trailer combination, the ‘box’ had not evolved prior to the MSC reefer,” Trajkovski added. “End consumers are influencing commercial transportation, and the next step for our progress in the industry means turning to advanced materials. We chose to work with Wabash National because they don’t settle. They are challenging us at C&S Grocers to do something different.”

Although the Wabash National MSC unit displayed at TMC was the first for C&S Grocers, Trajkovski expects the added cube space, higher UA rating and ability to maintain consistent temperature for a longer period of time will be a winning combination for the company when coupled with its focus on electric vehicles and TRUs.

“Wabash National is the gamechanger we are looking for,” Trajkovski said. “If we don’t take this opportunity, then we will never know what we could have achieved.”

Making flatbed trailers great again
Wabash National also re-engineered and re-introduced its lightweight Transcraft Eagle design. It is reported to be the only combo trailer on the market that offers premium features as standard, including: more load securement versatility; the highest standard beam rating to handle the toughest loads; additional side turn/marker lamps for better highway visibility; and limited lifetime beam and five-year wheel-end warranties.

“Our new Eagle is another example of how we continue to help customers move everything from first to final mile,” according to Wabash National Platform Sales Director, Al Cox. “Our product is known for being stronger and lower weight, while having more payload capacity and best-in-class corrosion resistance. We believe customers who expect more from their equipment will find the re-engineered Transcraft Eagle as a reliable trailer that can haul more and stay on the road longer.”

Trailer fleet tech in the spotlight
Great Dane celebrated 120 years of innovation at this year’s TMC with a special display showcasing the company’s robust history in the transportation industry. Committed to the theme ‘Great Doesn’t Stop’, Great Dane highlighted its quality products, aftermarket services and overall customer experience.

“For 120 years, Great Dane has been committed to providing its customers with the premium products and services they need to get the job done,” said Great Dane Executive Vice President of Sales, Chris Hammond.

In addition to Great Dane’s booth, the company’s Vice President of Engineering, Chris Lee, presented at the TMC/SAE Symposium session titled ‘The Combination Vehicle as a Connected Whole’. Lee spoke on behalf of trailer manufacturers regarding the challenges and opportunities that tractor-trailer connectivity may provide.

Great Dane featured three pieces of equipment in its booth and unveiled its FleetPulse smart trailer telematics system, Streamline aerodynamics prototype, AdvantEDGE Aftermarket Parts and Service program, and Pre-Owned Trailers program.

“Innovation is one of the many keys to our 120-year legacy of success,” Hammond said. “By keeping our eyes on current trends and keeping our ears open to what our customers are asking for, we have been able to identify problems and create innovative solutions. The latest of these solutions being our FleetPulse telematics system and our Streamline aerodynamics prototype.”

FleetPulse is a fully integrated, comprehensive solution for trailers, and is the first and only trailer telematics system developed by a trailer OEM. Great Dane teamed up with supply partners and customers to ensure that both the system and the data it provides are robust and capable of adapting to shifting needs and trends. Beyond simply a GPS, FleetPulse’s system of built-in sensors collects precise measurements from the trailer’s components, keeping watch over key indicators of a trailer’s health and status, such as tire inflation systems, open doors, cargo weight, burned-out lights, ABS fault codes, and actual mileage.  “FleetPulse is laying the foundation for technologies beyond telematics,” said Mike Molitor, Great Dane’s Director of Business Development. “The transformational shifts that will occur in our industry, such as autonomy, electrification, and smart distribution centres, will require the trailer to be designed and wired differently than it is today. We’ve built FleetPulse with these technological advances in mind.”

Streamline is a simple, lightweight, and fuel-efficient aerodynamics prototype designed to improve profitability and efficiency for long-haul trailer fleets. It is designed for 53’ dry or refrigerated trailers and includes aerodynamic side skirts, rear fairings, and mud flaps. The rear fairings are mounted on the sides of the trailer, so they are compatible with either roll-up or swing doors.
“The Streamline system was created to make the jobs of key fleet employees – including maintenance managers and drivers –easier,” Lee said. “We designed a simple, easy-to-maintain system that not only meets advanced aerodynamic requirements for regulations 2021 and beyond but is also capable of improving fuel efficiency by more than 7 per cent.”

Hammond said Great Dane’s customers have and always will remain at the centre of the organisation. “Their needs have directed our steps since day one,” he said. “We have made many transitions over the past 120 years, but one thing that has always remained the same is our dedication to providing premium services to our customers.”

One of these services is Great Dane’s AdvantEDGE Aftermarket Parts and Service program. AdvantEDGE connects members to a nationwide network of authorised service locations. Members have access to 24-hour emergency roadside assistance, controlled ordering and invoicing, up-front estimates, competitive labour rates, and signature parts price protection. Great Dane also displayed its Pre-Owned Trailers program in the booth.

“No matter what challenges we have faced during our long tenure, we have never wavered in our commitment to providing the highest-quality products on the market, using the finest components, and true American craftsmanship,” Hammond said.

The Great Dane trailers on display included a 53’ Champion Composite dry van equipped with FleetPulse and Streamline, designed exclusively for NFI; a 48’ Champion Sheet-and-Post dry van designed exclusively for Transervice; and a 20’ Sahara dry freight truck body.

Connected and intelligent trailer platforms
WABCO Holdings Inc. introduced a connected and intelligent trailer platform in North America which is built on four key technologies – Intelligent Anti-Lock Braking System (iABS), trailer Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Intelligent Trailer Program (ITP) and TrailerCAST.

The platform also features open software architecture to facilitate cooperation with key industry players.

The trailer platform is a key milestone in fulfilling WABCO’s mission to provide a more robust connection between the truck and the trailer, enabling fleets and other strategic partners to identify and proactively manage critical safety and diagnostic issues. Along with WABCO’s extensive portfolio of trailer products, strategic partners such as vehicle diagnostics provider Noregon and trailer axle manufacturer Hendrickson, have agreed to integrate their products and services into the connected trailer platform.

“Our new trailer platform is a simple solution for customers that leverages iABS to receive, process and distribute critical trailer health information,” said Collin Shaw, Director, Business Development and Marketing, WABCO North America. “Through iABS, our trailer platform helps fleets gain invaluable insight into previously difficult-to-access ABS information while also acting as a gateway for WABCO’s ITP and integrations from other partners. Looking to the future, WABCO’s position in truck and trailer braking will facilitate true connectivity between truck and trailer helping to pave the way to higher levels of safety and efficiency.”

Introduced in 2019, the WABCO iABS helps optimise trailer control during emergency braking while enabling the activation of ITP features including Lift Axle Control, Door Ajar, Axle Load Monitoring, for example. As the pioneer and market leader in trailer braking technology, WABCO has sold close to 6 million Trailer ABS systems in North America.

WABCO is also launching its TrailerCAST trailer telematics device for North America to enhance customer access to critical trailer information. In production globally since 2019, the TrailerCAST device provides GPS and cellular connectivity to iABS and its associated intelligent features. Available with and without battery backup, TrailerCAST is able to provide a GPS location for trailers across North America. Additionally, with its 4G cellular connection, TrailerCast can transmit critical trailer information to WABCO’s data cloud and fleets can access this information in real-time through Noregon’s TripVision.

Taking the pressure off operators
Hendrickson, a Boler company, was award at TMC for its TIREMAAX PRO-LB, a trailer tyre pressure control system designed to adjust tyre pressure based on load. This system builds on the technology of TIREMAAX PRO, which has the ability to inflate, relieve and equalise tyre pressures across all wheel positions. TIREMAAX PRO-LB adds the ability to adjust tire pressure based on load.

“The consensus in the market is that most trailer tyres are inflated to a pressure greater than necessary for the typical load,” said Matt Wilson, Director of Controls Business Unit at Hendrickson Trailer Commercial Vehicle System. “The cold tyre target pressure setting is often selected based on a maximum expected load, which may only occur occasionally.

“A load-based tyre pressure control system allows for an optimal tyre pressure, providing the opportunity to reduce tire wear without negatively affecting fuel economy.”

Unlike a passenger car, commercial vehicles experience significant changes in overall vehicle weight between the loaded and unloaded condition. The change is so significant the optimum air pressure for the tires is different for loaded versus unloaded vehicles. Tyre manufacturers provide complex charts to calculate the tyre pressure required for a specific axle load. Hendrickson’s TIREMAAX PRO-LB helps eliminate the guesswork of tyre pressure management. By monitoring the pressure in the air springs, the new system will react to changing loads automatically, with no input from the driver.

Hendrickson has leveraged years of experience in air suspensions to understand the needs of today’s commercial vehicle market. Expertise with both air suspension design and TIREMAAX PRO, an active inflation system that automatically adjusts for over-inflated tyres, uniquely positions Hendrickson to design and develop a system that can also react to trailer load.

SAF-Holland Americas represents
Kent Jones, SAF-Holland President – Americas, brings a comprehensive commercial vehicle-specific management experience in the areas of sales and marketing, operational excellence, restructuring and business development. Since his appointment, SAF-Holland has been well positioned to realise the potential of its Americas activities across the North and the South.

Joining SAF-Holland last September, Jones came from ZF Commercial Steering, USA, where he served as Vice President of Commercial Vehicle Steering Systems and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, where he was responsible for sales and marketing, aftermarket P&L, business development, product planning and strategy.

From 1996 to 2016, he worked for Remy International Inc., a US manufacturer of starters and alternators for light and heavy commercial vehicles as well as various operational management positions in sales and marketing, aftermarket P&L, e-mobility and business development. Jones began his career in 1992 at General Motors in account management and production control.

Jones is a graduate engineer, having studied industrial engineering at Kettering University in Flint, Mich., and holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Purdue University.

SAF-Holland’s future course, according to Jones, will reflect on the evolution of the role technology plays in supplier solutions with its hardware components becoming smarter.

“SAF-Holland is innovating to support OEMs and fleet customers with critical and needed peripheral technology so that the main technology of autonomy or electrification can work,” he said. “For example, the connection between the truck and the trailer – if it’s driverless technology – is still going to need the ability to couple the truck to the trailer as well as the technology to power raise or lower the trailer landing gear. That’s the type of technology that SAF-Holland demonstrates and continues to develop.

“Since transportation needs continue to increase worldwide, SAF-Holland focuses on developing solutions to further help customers achieve the best costs per mile possible. “That’s why SAF-Holland recently launched an innovative initiative, called Smart Steel. With Smart Steel, SAF-Holland combines mechanics with sensors and electronics to drive the digital networking capability of commercial vehicles and logistics.

“For instance, when axles are equipped with sensors and networked together, the overall condition of a trailer can be determined from the collected vehicle data. The condition can be easily reported to the driver as well as the back office, where the fleet equipment manager resides,” he said. “Automation and assistance systems can reduce driver stress and increase driver productivity.”

Jones said Holland, SAF-Holland’s fifth wheel brand is very strong (more than century old) and enjoys a high market share, while the trailer side, which includes SAF brand air-ride and mechanical axle/suspension systems, air disc brakes and tyre inflation systems, is a very strong and growing segment. “SAF-Holland’s share in this market has grown significantly over the past five years and we see this as an exciting time and an area where SAF-Holland looks to do really well in the next decade.”

In November 2019, SAF-Holland launched its SMAR-te Tire Pilot, the intelligent evolution of tyre pressure management, delivering a new level of tyre management performance, enhancing vehicle safety and providing fleets with confidence and security that they are maximising tyre life, vehicle efficiency and uptime. The patented SMAR-te Tire Pilot incorporates AKTV8’s iAir robust electro-pneumatic control module with integrated solenoid valves and sensors to dynamically measure and more precisely adjust tyre pressure based on trailer axle load. No matter the weight of the trailer load throughout its transit route, according to SAF-Holland, the tyres will be inflated to the proper setting for optimum tyre tread life. The Smart-Alert diagnostic LED light warns of minor tyre leaks, severe leaks, and overload conditions. Bluetooth and CAN connectivity allow enhanced configurability and serviceability with optional telemetry integration.

Another recent SAF-Holland product development is the Saturn 62 iM landing gear, designed for intermodal container trailer operations. It was preceded in development by the Electronic Lock Indicator technology enhanced, ELI-te Fifth Wheel Coupling Assistant. Available as an integrated option on the popular Holland FW35 Series Fifth Wheels, it helps to ensure a proper fifth wheel coupling.

SAF-Holland has made significant investments in e-commerce and digital tools. For instance, SAF-Holland released an updated Parts on Demand (POD), now called POD Plus. It is an online storefront, much like Amazon, which allows direct-access distribution. Distributors and dealers can see and order products. The site is customised to the user who is logged in, to allow distributors and OEM dealers to see their specific product price point and inventory options.

“It delivers critical information to our distributors and dealers, providing them the availability to the part they need when a customer vehicle is down,” Jones said — adding that the equipment specialist’s focus at TMC was ‘Smart Trailer!’. “We were engaging fleets and OEMs with smart trailer products like Smart Tire Pilot Plus, Powered Landing Gear, Smart Glad Hand and 7 way system, enhanced coupling systems and sensor systems for trucks and trailers.”

Jones said TMC is an important organisation for the truck and trailer industry as it brings experts together in technical committees to outline best practices in all areas of trucking. “SAF-Holland is a major supporter of these committees and have several technical service team members active on a number of committees. TMC is also an important event for suppliers to engage their fleet and OEM customers in a place where customers have come to learn and understand what is going on within the industry.”

There are so many new players in sensors and telematics space today, according to Jones, whereas only a few existed even a few short years ago. “There are many people with clever ideas on sensing technology but with no clear path to market,” he said. “There are also long-established companies like SAF-Holland that are deploying meaningful technology that fleets want and need right now. It’s an exciting time to be in the trucking industry!”

TMC is an important event for SAF-Holland national fleet sales and technical service team.

“We plan for months in advance for specific customer business discussion as well as social networking activities,” Jones said. “We also work to ensure our product and company messaging is on target and that we all have similar approaches to presenting products and technology solutions to customers.”

SAF-Holland’s SMAR-te Tire Pilot product was recognised by the North American Truck Writers as one of the top five new products introduced to the industry in 2019.

“A special presentation was part of the Industry luncheon on the last day of the show,” Jones said. “Bill Hicks, the product manager responsible for the SMAR-te Tire Pilot product launch, received the award from Jim Parks who represented the Truck Writers committee.”

SMAR-te Tire Pilot was recognised for the award for its ability to: optimise tyre pressure based on axle load to maximise tyre life; improve safety under light loads by optimising the tyre contact path patch for better traction; and improving cushioning of both the vehicle and cargo when lightly loaded.

“SAF-Holland will remain a major contributor to the TMC association through membership on technical committees that supply directional support for its fleet and OEM members,” Jones said. “We look forward to this practical and meaningful conference every year.”

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