Fresh equipment

| May 01, 2006

Thousands of truckers attend the Mid-America Trucking Show each year to check out new equipment and services.

Innovation was the name of the game at the 2006 Mid-America Trucking Show, held March 23-25 in Louisville, Ky. Several truck makers introduced new or improved models, and the engine makers confirmed their plans for the 2007 emissions standards.

Kenworth T660
Kenworth Truck Co. unveiled the Kenworth T660, an aerodynamic tractor that will replace the T600 in 2007.

The truck will offer several new systems and options, including improved seating and headlamps, options for in-cab navigation and the Clean Power System, an anti-idling system that uses alternator current while the engine is operating to charge a power pack that powers cooling, heating and hotel-load 110-volt electric power when the truck is parked.

“The new Kenworth T660 is the latest evolution of our quality aerodynamic product line and reinforces Kenworth’s leadership in fuel economy performance,” said Bob Christensen, Kenworth general manager and Paccar vice president.

The T660′s new standard Halogen projector low beams provide 40 percent more light down the road than a sealed beam lamp and last three times longer. Buyers can also spec a Xenon High Intensity Discharge configuration that provides 75 percent more light than sealed-beam lamps and lasts 11 times longer.

The Clean Power System could improve overall fuel economy by as much as 8 percent by eliminating the one gallon of fuel typically burned per idle hour, Kenworth says. The system, which will be available first on the T660 and then on the W900, will keep the sleeper cool for 10 hours.

In other news, Kenworth introduced a Class 6, air brake-equipped version of its T300 medium-duty truck.

Peterbilt Line
Completing its largest product investment in corporate history, Peterbilt launched eight new or upgraded models across its medium- and heavy-duty truck line, all available in early 2007.

The biggest change in the line comes in the form of the new 389, which will replace the company’s flagship, the classically designed and legendary 379. The 389 incorporates new aerodynamic features such as modeled bumpers, external air cleaner trim panels, soft curve fairings to battery boxes and a new proprietary roof fairing while maintaining the classic lines of the 379.

“Our new lineup of premium trucks represents the best new products Peterbilt has ever offered,” said Dan Sobic, Peterbilt general manager and PACCAR vice president.

Other new medium- and heavy-duty models:

  • Model 387 day cab

  • Model 384
  • Model 367 and 365 vocational trucks
  • Model 340 and 330

The 387 day cab and 384, which can be configured as either a daycab or sleeper, join Peterbilt’s other aerodynamic models, the 387 sleeper and the 386. “Fuel prices have risen dramatically and remain high,” said Landon Sproull, Peterbilt’s chief engineer. “Helping our customers offset these costs through aerodynamic design is a priority for Peterbilt.”

The medium-duty 330 and 340 will complement the 335. In the 330, Pete offers a light-duty Class 6 truck, which will serve fleets trying to tap into the broad pool of drivers who do not have commercial driver’s licenses.

Pete has improved the aerodynamics of its classically styled models with the introduction of the Model 389 and 388. Both feature new durable aluminum hoods, one-piece aluminum surround with punched-oval pattern grille and polished aluminum grille bars, polished-aluminum fender reinforcements, innovative headlamps, aero-style mirrors and a new aerodynamic hood ornament.
Pete’s new Model 367 and 365 are aimed at vocational markets, with the 367 available in a heavy-haul configuration with a high-capacity cooling system to accommodate high horsepower engines. The models feature a new chassis design with both set-forward and set-back front axle configurations. The trucks also feature new hoods and an impact-resistant grille.

Volvo Models
Volvo unveiled two new trucks, the VN 730 and VT 830 – both mid-roof sleeper versions of its on-highway VN and VT series.

The sleepers come with a standard 42-inch lower bed with a folding workstation and an upper bunk, or with an optional full-size lower bed and upper back wall storage.

The VT 830 comes standard with the Volvo D16, as do the VT 880 and VT 800; the D12 is the standard engine for the VN 730 and for all other VN models.

The sleepers are 77 inches deep, 95 inches wide and 86 inches high in the rear, a full 2 feet shorter than full-size Volvo sleepers.

Peter Karlsten, president of Volvo Trucks North America, pledges “the same large sleeper and premium level of features and benefits already found in the Volvo VT 880 and VN 780 but with a lower roof height.”

“The lower roof height on these trucks significantly improves aerodynamics,” Karlsten said. “Yet even with the mid-roof height, a 6-foot-4-inch driver can stand upright between the seats.”

All chassis and powertrain options currently available for the VT 880 and VN 780 are available on the new models.

International ProStar
Featured in the April issue of Truckers News, International officially unveiled its ProStar Series tractors to the public.

The ProStar’s aerodynamic package includes sculpted fenders, a sloped hood to increase visibility and a streamlined cab and roof to reduce wind resistance. The ProStar has shown a 4.5 percent increase in fuel economy over its competitors, International said.

Designers improved the ergonomics of seats, instrument panels, flexible steering wheel positioning and roomy sleeper berths.

The ProStar is designed to reduce time for maintenance and repairs. For example, headlight bulbs and windshield wiper blades can be replaced by the driver without tools. The tractor also includes innovations such as the low-effort E-Z Tilt hood and Tilt-Away bumper to provide a walk-in engine compartment and allow easy engine and underside access.

The ProStar will phase out the 9400 Series line and eventually the 9200 Series line.

Shipments of the ProStar to dealers will begin in the first quarter of 2007. In addition to the base ProStar, the series includes the ProStar Premium, ProStar Eagle and ProStar Limited.

Freightliner Updates
Later this year, Freightliner will become the first manufacturer to offer rack and pinion steering on its heavy-duty trucks. Inspired by Freightliner truck racer Mike Ryan, eight-time winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the new steering system allows increased payload and maneuverability in heavy traffic or at cramped loading docks.

A new climate control system, the Bergstrom No-Idle Thermal Environment, will be available on Century Class S/T, Coronado and Columbia models, said Chris Patterson, president and CEO of Freightliner LLC. The system works independently of the vehicle’s main engine and offers year-round temperature control, as well as fuel savings and reduced engine wear, the company says.

Freightliner plans to introduce a completely new Class 8 truck at the 2007 Mid-America Trucking Show, Patterson said. The new truck “ultimately will replace many models on display today,” he said.

2007 Engines
Caterpillar: Caterpillar’s line of medium- and heavy-duty engines – the C7, C9, C13 and C15 – will continue to rely on its ACERT technology to meet 2007 emissions standards and will be available beginning in the fourth quarter of 2006, the company said.

“ACERT is here to stay,” said Jim McReynolds, general manager of Cat’s North American power systems. “ACERT is the future of Caterpillar.”

Introduced in 2003 to meet strict emissions standards, ACERT differs from exhaust gas recirculation, used by most other OEMs, by recirculating a small amount of exhaust gas that has already passed through its diesel particulate filter, cooling it and mixing it with fresh air before it is reintroduced into the combustion chamber.

“We’re confident that our 2007 engines will provide the same fuel economy as today’s engines,” said Greg Gauger, director of Caterpillar On-Highway Power Systems. While the engines will cost more, Cat will maintain its premium price over other brands, the company said.

Cummins: Cummins announced its 2007 heavy-duty engines will be available in several new ratings, including a 600-hp rating for its ISX model. The company also showed off three heavy- and medium-duty diesel engine installations featuring its 2007 emissions technology.

The company will use optimized exhaust gas recirculation to meet a 50 percent reduction in oxides of nitrogen and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to meet a 90 percent reduction in diesel particulate matter or soot. After 200,000 miles the DPF will require maintenance to remove ash, and Cummins showed off the machine that dealers and large fleets will use for that job.

Despite the emission changes, Cummins said a full lineup of ratings will be available for the ’07 ISX and ISM, including three new ratings for the 2007 ISX: the ISX 425 SmartTorque, the ISX 485 SmartTorque and the ISX 600.

Detroit Diesel/Mercedes Benz: Saying the company’s preparations for meeting the 2007 emissions regulations represent “more investment, resources, testing and preparation than we’ve ever put into a component launch,” Chris Patterson, president and CEO of Freightliner LLC, announced that Detroit Diesel’s Series 60, MBE 4000 and MBE 900 diesel engines will be ready for the road in January ’07.
-Truckers News staff


Alabama Trucker Named Highway Hero
“That man saved my life,” said Leesburg, Ga., trucker Herman Langford about Douglas Crawford, named the 23rd Goodyear North America Highway Hero on March 23 at the Truck Writers of North America awards banquet.

Crawford, a Saia Motor Freight driver from Ashford, Ala., was southbound at mile marker 51 on I-85 in Georgia when he saw an 18-wheeler cross the median and hit Langford’s rig.

Crawford dodged swerving cars, parked his truck on the shoulder, grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran to the wrecked trucks. He saw the cab of the runaway had disintegrated in flames.

“I knew nobody could survive that,” Crawford said, so he ran to Langford’s burning truck and put out the blaze. It had destroyed the back wall of the sleeper, so Crawford walked in and found Langford conscious, unable to move and soaked with diesel fuel.

“I heard the truck hissing and popping, and I told him, ‘We got to get out of here,’” Crawford said. “He grabbed a hold of me, and I carried him out.” Just moments after they got to safety, the truck exploded.

For his highway heroism, Crawford was awarded a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a custom-designed Goodyear Highway Hero ring and a commemorative plaque.

Crawford was selected from among four Highway Hero finalists, all of whom were honored. The other three are:

Danny Wallen, an ABF Freight Systems driver from Conover, Ohio, who saved a couple from a burning car.

Robert A. Starr, a state senator and owner-operator from North Troy, Vt., who saved a woman from a burning car.

Michael Knott, a FedEx Ground driver from Casselberry, Fla., who rescued a mother and her child who lay helpless on the Florida Turnpike after being struck by a car.

“In our eyes, they are all heroes,” said Peter Christoffersen of Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems.
-Andy Haraldson


FMCSA Appoints Medical Review Board
The federal government has appointed five physicians to look over a range of medical issues that affect drivers, including conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that may prevent truckers from getting or retaining a commercial driver’s license.

The Medical Review Board will help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revamp its physical qualifications for commercial motor vehicle drivers, providing guidance on scientific and medical standards. In particular, the panel will help FMCSA decide whether its regulations need adjusting based on new research.

Some of the agency’s current rules are based on studies more than 30 years old. Drivers who have been disqualified because of their medical condition say the agency’s regulations are out of step with current treatment regimes and modern medicine. U.S. Department of Transportation agencies have been successfully sued on several occasions over its medical exemption programs.

In the past 20 years, FMCSA and its predecessor agencies have appointed medical review boards to look at specific issues. But the new board will serve two years and look at all of the agency’s medical programs and regulations, an FMCSA spokesman said.

First on the agenda: drug and alcohol issues and diabetes, even though the FMCSA just revamped its insulin-treated diabetes exemption program in summer 2005. The board will study sleep issues in the second quarter of 2006 before moving on to cardiovascular, vision and hearing qualifications.

The panel includes doctors with a range of specialties from toxicology to neurology. The appointees are:

  • Dr. Gunnar Andersson, senior vice president for medical affairs and professor and chair of orthopedic surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago;

  • Dr. Michael Greenberg, associate director for medical toxicology and director of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship Program, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia;
  • Dr. Kurt Hegmann, director and associate professor of the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City;
  • Dr. Barbara Phillips, chair of the National Sleep Foundation and professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington;
  • Dr. Matthew Rizzo, professor of neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine in Iowa City.

-Sean Kelley


Most Hazmat Loads Lack Real-Time Tracking
Fewer than 10 percent of hazmat shippers and transporters have the technology to track their shipments in real time, according to a survey conducted for a mobile supply chain solutions company.

The research firm markITelligence did the survey for New Jersey-based DP&C Enterprises. The firm polled pharmaceutical, chemical, oil and gas shippers on the procedures and technologies for monitoring hazmat shipments in non-powered containers such as rail cars, truck trailers and freight boxes.

The survey indicated a “significant lack of information” during transportation, which can represent a national security risk. “Today, hazardous materials can leave a warehouse and most shippers have no ability to monitor the location or condition of that material until it arrives at its final destination,” said Feza Pamir, a DP&C vice president.

More than half the companies use third-party services for asset tracking and the remainder track internally, using a combination of GPS-based devices and fleet management software.

More than two-thirds of survey participants said real-time data access is very important, and the majority of these respondents were interested in the impact the data would have on security and compliance. A pilot program DP&C conducted with a chemical company resulted in not only better company security, but a 10 percent jump in utilization of isotainer rail cars and reduced shipping costs.

More than half of respondents indicated that their companies deploy at least 2,500 non-powered assets to move hazmat. None had fewer than 1,000 non-powered assets.
-Jill Dunn


ATA Intervenes in HOS Challenge
The American Trucking Associations has filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in Public Citizen’s latest challenge to FMCSA’s hours of service rule.

Public Citizen filed suit Feb. 27 in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, demanding changes in the new rule. Joined in the suit were Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and later the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The contested FMCSA rule allows truckers to drive 11 consecutive hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour off-duty break. Before 2004, drivers were allowed to drive 10 hours, but the agency upped the total number of driving hours while increasing the required rest period. Also disputed by the safety groups: the lack of a mandate for electronic onboard recorders and an alleged lack of consideration for drivers’ health.

ATA says it will show that the rule advances public safety while meeting the operational needs of the trucking industry. “The final rule will directly impact the efficiency, productivity and safety of the national trucking industry,” wrote Robert Digges Jr., ATA deputy general counsel.

Public Citizen, CRASH and PATT have challenged the HOS law before. The groups won when the court ruled that FMCSA failed to take driver health into consideration when drafting the rule in 2003. But actions by Congress and the agency mitigated the effects of that court ruling.

The agency reissued the rule last summer, modifying regulations concerning sleeper berths but leaving on-duty driving provisions unchanged. Those sleeper-berth changes, on the other hand, spawned their own court challenge by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

OOIDA also is challenging the 14-hour on-duty provision, which limits work to 14 hours once on duty, unless the trucker takes a long enough break.

Filed earlier this year, that challenge is gaining momentum. The Truckload Carriers Association, the Ohio Trucking Association and the California Trucking Association have filed supporting documents to help the challenge; so has the Teamsters union.
-Steven Mackay


TCA Honors Top Owner-operators and Company Drivers
The Truckload Carriers Association, along with International Truck and Engine and Overdrive magazine, recently honored five drivers as the nation’s best independent contractors.

At the 19th Annual Independent Contractor of the Year contest, presented March 14 during TCA’s Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla. Henry Shriver of Smithway Motor Xpress, was named the 2005 Independent Contractor of the Year.

Awards were based on the drivers’ excellent safety records, unblemished work history, and involvement in the community and industry. Shriver, a Fort Dodge, Iowa, resident joined Smithway in 2002.

He wins a new International 9000i Model tractor donated by International Truck and Engine Corp., powered by a ISX 500-hp engine donated by Cummins Engine Co.

Rounding out second through fifth places were Daniel Beber of Polk, Neb.; Artie Reid of Breckenridge, Texas; Ronald Warner of Missoula, Mont.; and Lanny and Connie Beyer of Hancock, Minn. They also win several prizes each.

Truckers News, which sponsors the Company Equipment Driver of the Year, along with TCA and Detroit Diesel featured its top winner, CFI driver Dora Colvin, in the April issue of the magazine.

The runners-up in the company driver contests included Zimri Zirkle of Marion, Ind.; Fred Howard Jr. of Albany, Ga.; Bret Campbell of Sedalia, Mo.; and Kenneth Luther of Nampa, Idaho.
-From Staff Reports


ATA Supports Bill to Help Vets Gain Jobs
The American Trucking Associations has thrown its support behind a bill designed to ease the transition of military veterans as they move into civilian jobs.

Introduced by Montana Sen. Conrad Burns and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, the Veterans Employment Training Act of 2006 would add trucking to the list of industry sectors for which servicemen and women moving to the civilian job market could receive expedited financial aid.

Under the current Montgomery GI Bill, the federal government covers up to 60 percent of the cost of some educational benefits to make short-term, high-cost training programs more attractive to veterans.

Those programs, however, entail only such jobs as construction, hospitality, financial services, energy, homeland security and health care.

ATA reports that trucking is short 20,000 drivers. That deficit could grow to 111,000 by 2014 if current labor trends – and high demand for freight – continue.

“In Arkansas, we have soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are having a hard time finding work, and we have sectors, such as the trucking industry, that are expecting phenomenal growth over the next few years,” Pryor said. “Our bill opens a door to help veterans find high-paying jobs, and it provides qualified employees to help companies fill these jobs.”
-Steven Mackay


Volvo Showcases New Hybrid Technology
The Volvo Group has unveiled its I-SAM hybrid technology for heavy vehicles.

Volvo’s I-SAM consists of a starter motor, drive motor and alternator, along with an electronic control unit. I-SAM interacts with Volvo’s I-Shift automatic gearshifting system. The batteries are recharged by the diesel engine and whenever the brakes are applied.

The electric motor offers smooth performance at low speeds and supplements the diesel engine’s performance as speed increases, Volvo said. This allows the truck to accelerate via electric power alone and promotes lower fuel consumption, emissions and noise levels.

“The hybrid is a long-term and highly interesting solution for efficient and environmentally adapted transport activities,” said Leif Johansson, president and CEO of Volvo. “We are aware that oil prices for our customers will rise, and therefore, all solutions that reduce fuel consumption are highly attractive.”

Volvo’s hybrid technology can deliver savings as much as 35 percent on routes with frequent braking and accelerations, the company said. Vehicle maintenance costs can also be reduced through reduced wear on the braking system.

The Volvo hybrid truck is set for a wide range of tests, but the company predicts it will be on the market in a few years.
-Lance Orr


Washington State to Mandate Biodiesel
At press time, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire was expected to sign a bill mandating that at least 2 percent of all gasoline sold in the state be ethanol and that at least 2 percent of the state’s aggregate consumption of diesel be biodiesel. The bill also mandates that state vehicle fleets use at least 20 percent biodiesel.

Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced that Louis Dreyfus Agriculture Industries will build the world’s largest biodiesel plant near Claypool. The plant is expected to produce 250,000 gallons of biodiesel per day or more than 80 million gallons per year.

The new requirements at the pump in Washington would take effect December 2008, while diesel-powered state vehicles and equipment would have to comply as of June 2009.

California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Montana and Ohio also require a certain percentage of fuel to be obtained from renewable sources such as ethanol or biodiesel. Only Minnesota requires a percentage of each diesel fill-up to be biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a non-petroleum fuel produced from sources such as vegetable oil. The U.S. Department of Energy has stated that diesel-biodiesel blends of up to 20 percent biodiesel can be used in nearly all diesel equipment with little or no engine modifications. Higher blends also can be used in many engines built since 1994.
-Jill Dunn


FYI
International Brands Engines “MaxxForce”
International Truck and Engine will offer the expanded MaxxForce International Diesel Power line of on-highway engines in 2007. The product line will range from a four-cylinder 2.8-liter engine up to the company’s new offerings in the 11- to 13-liter class. They will offer air- and fuel-management technologies and exhaust gas recirculation systems. They also have advanced after-treatment systems to help meet the 2007 emissions standards.

New Love’s
Love’s Travel Stop recently opened a new location in Odessa, Texas. The new facility is located off I-20 S, at Exit 115, Frontage Road. It is the 122th Love’s to open.

Permanent Trailer Tags
The Alabama Trucking Association supports state legislation that would require trailer owners to buy a permanent trailer tag rather than an annual trailer tag. The bill would replace the annual $20 trailer tag with a $60 tag good for the life of the trailer.

Neal Winner
Avery Vise, editorial director of Randall-Reilly Publishing Co.’s Commercial Carrier Journal magazine, won the Jesse H. Neal Award in the Best Staff-Written Editorials or Opinion Pieces category at the 52nd annual Neal Awards. Truckers News, published by Randall-Reilly, won a Neal award last year in the Best Single Article for a story about anti-idling. The Neal is trade publishing’s highest honor.

Petro Picks Wi-fi Provider
Petro Stopping Centers has selected SiriCOMM to provide wi-fi hot spots at 64 of its locations. SiriCOMM hot spots already are at more than 300 locations nationwide, with agreements that will extend the network to more than 700 sites, including Pilot Travel Centers, Love’s Travel Stops, some independent truck stops, some roadside weigh stations that feature PrePass and some truck fleet terminals.

Diesel Increases
The national average retail price of a gallon of diesel increased more than a nickel for the week ending April 3, to $2.617, or 31 cents more than in the same week of 2005.

The average diesel price increased in every region tracked by the U.S. Department of Energy. The biggest increase, 5.7 cents, was in the Lower Atlantic; the smallest increase, 2.8 cents, was in the Rockies. The West Coast had the most expensive diesel in the country at $2.753. For state-by-state diesel prices, updated daily, visit this site.

Wabash Completes Transcraft Purchase
Wabash National has completed its purchase of Transcraft, one of the largest U.S. makers of flatbed and drop deck trailers. The acquisition makes Wabash National, based in Lafayette, Ind., the largest semitrailer manufacturer in North America based on combined 2005 volume. The purchase won’t affect any Transcraft brands, products or operations, officials said.

Best of 2005
“25 Years of Class,” a hardcover book produced on behalf of Peterbilt Motor Company by local custom publisher Northbrook Publishing, was awarded “Best of 2005″ at the Annual Truck Writers Association Industry Award Banquet at the recent Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. Northbrook is a division of Randall-Reilly Publishing Company, the publisher of Truckers News.

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