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The Guide To Trucks, Equipment and Maintenance


Shifting pattern

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A Path Forward Also:

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American Trucker

A Penton Publication


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Pride in our exPertise shows in every delivery At FleetPride, we take pride in providing service that’s truly customer-focused. With over 250 locations across the nation, you can count on us to have parts expertise that’s as heavy duty as our people.


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Shifting pattern

The manual transmission is slowing slipping away

16 /BUSINESS OF TRUCKING Modern approach

The path to future success is through the evolution of your business



EDITOR’S PAGE .............................................. 4 Tools for minimizing distraction

PARTS & SERVICE ............................................ 6 The latest in parts

TIRE RACK ....................................................12 Ensuring proper torque remains a fleet responsibility

SHOP TALK ....................................................18 Fluid analysis cuts downtime, cost



HOS could change the way carriers operate

Relocation company making the right calls

SPOTLIGHT ON AN AMERICAN TRUCKER ........28 Field service firm pays attention to proper maintenance

FOCUS ON .....................................................30 Demands keep air suspension manufacturers on their toes

READERS’ RIGS ..............................................32 Got what it takes?

AMERICAN TRUCKER MARKETPLACE ............33 Used trucks, trailers, parts & services

2 American Trucker/July 2013

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Truck image for illustrative purposes only; actual prize may vary.





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editor’s page


A Penton Publication

203/358-9900 or 800/776-1246 Fax: 203/358-5819

Vice President/Group Publisher Thomas W. Duncan

Editorial Staff Jim Mele Editorial Director Sean Kilcarr Editor

Tap or say?

Tim Brady Business Editor


Thomas Schalk, vice president of voice technology for Agero, a telematics service provider, believes the time is ripe to add what he calls a “voice command” structure to motor vehicles while ensuring such verbal interfaces don’t create distractive risks of their own. That’s why Agero is testing a way to integrate a vehicle’s “talk” button, commonly found on the steering wheel, with It’s time to create a vehicle’s touchscreen, providing the with what’s called a “tap-or-say” a distraction-free driver prompt. truck cab “With the tap-or-say command, the user instinctively glances and taps from a list of results displayed on a touchscreen without the need to contemplate a spoken response,” Schalk explains. “No extra prompting and no extra dialog steps are required, dramatically reducing the task completion time and the risk of distraction.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeks to ensure that in-vehicle navigation, infotainment and other communications systems do not divert a driver’s attention away from the roadway for more than two seconds at a time. “Reducing distraction will require matching the right blend of natural interfaces that can successfully and quickly perform specific, independent actions, such as task selection, list management, entering text strings, understanding warnings, or interrupting or pausing a task,” he says. “That’s what is required to perform a growing assortment of in-vehicle, non-driving tasks.” AT

Brian Straight Managing Editor Dan Zeis Senior Art Director

Contributing Editors David Cullen Wendy Leavitt Kevin Rohlwing Bruce Sauer Rick Weber Charles Wilson

4 American Trucker/July 2013

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parts & service

Bumps ahead for new HOS rules


he implementation of longawaited changes to hoursof-service (HOS) rules, which went into effect on July 1, isn’t expected to be a completely smooth ride, as both industry and law enforcement will need to make significant adjustments to accommodate them. “We expect there will be some growing pains with this,” Steven Keppler, executive director for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, told American Trucker. “The changes are not too complicated, but they do impact a truck driver’s workday. And from the enforcement side, the changes create additional work for our folks in terms of logbook data reviews.” Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, told American Trucker that she didn’t think there would be too much disruption caused by the HOS changes. “We think HOS reform is going to go smoothly; the vast majority of carriers and drivers are informed about the changes,” she said during the annual Roadcheck event held at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. “We recognize that these [HOS] changes will significantly affect 7 to 10% of the driver population, but we believe carriers are making adjustments to compensate for that.” Keppler pointed out that his group helped distribute 75,000 three-byfive information cards detailing the changes to the HOS rules during the Roadcheck safety blitz.

6 American Trucker/July 2013

Drivers will have to closely monitor their work-hours under the new rules. “A number of carriers called us to ask for more information, so it just shows that despite all of the outreach, there are still folks who remain uninformed,” he said. The changes are as follows: ❑ A driver’s work-week is limited to 70 hours within a seven-day period. ❑ Truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window. ❑ The reforms will require truck drivers who maximize their weekly work-hours to take at least two “night-rest” periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. This “night-rest” requirement is part of the rule’s 34-hour restart provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work-week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. —SEAN KILCARR

trucking insights

Don’t grow too fast O

ne of the biggest mistakes many companies make is trying to grow too fast. Here are a few pointers on how to prepare your company for growth: ❑ Know the numbers (expenses versus income). Be sure your growth has a real opportunity for success. ❑ Know your break-even point. Be sure you’ve included in your breakeven costs your salary and that of anyone else working for your company. Business owners should not be waiting for profits to pay salaries. Profits are where your funds for growth will accumulate and where performance bonuses come from. ❑ Evaluate your market and know whether it will support your growth. ❑ Have a vision of how you’ll reach each plateau in your growth plan. ❑ Set revenue goals. Have the facts and figures of what you’re doing based on your plan. If it’s working, stay the course; if it’s not working, adjust or scrap the portion that isn’t achieving its goals. ❑ Determine a profit margin that will retain your competitive position while growing your capitalization fund. Growth initially drains assets both in cash and in personnel, so you must plan growth very carefully. Don’t grow yourself out of business. Tim Brady’s “Trucking Insights” column appears monthly, offering helpful tips on how you can successfully navigate your business in today’s economy. Contact Tim Brady at or call 731-749-8567. Join Brady at

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parts & service

Tires enhanced for efficiency


oodyear Tire rolling resistance and improve & Rubber Co. tread life. has enhanced The G399 LHS Fuel Max three of its tires to realso offers an outside tread duce rolling resistance shoulder compound that helps and improve miles to protect the tire’s pressure disremoval. tribution groove from tearing, The G399 LHS Fuel which promotes even wear. Max, G572 LHD Fuel The tire will be available in Max, and G392 SSD the following sizes: 11R22.5, DuraSeal + Fuel Max The G399 LHS 295/75R22.5, 11R24.5 and wide-base tire are all improves miles 285/75R24.5, each in both G SmartWay-verified. to removal. and H load range. Each tire utilizes The G572 LHD Fuel Max inGoodyear’s exclusive Fuel Max cludes Goodyear’s Tredlock TechTechnology, which contains fuelnology, which features interlocking saving compounds and advanced microgrooves that help stabilize the design technology to help reduce tread for long tread life and tough-

ness, and a 30/32-in. tread depth for enhanced tread life. The tire will be available in 295/75R22.5, 285/75R24.5, 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 sizes, all in G load range. Sizes 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 will be available in H load range. The G392 SSD DuraSeal + Fuel Max wide-base tire features both Goodyear’s Fuel Max and DuraSeal Technology. DuraSeal is a gel-like substance built into the tire’s inner liner that instantly seals nail-hole punctures of up to 1/4 in. in diameter in the repairable area of its tread The tire will be available in size 445/50R22.5 in L load range.

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Transmission ready for market P roduction of a new heavyduty automated mechanical transmission for the North American market is ramping up at Daimler Truck’s global powertrain plant in Gaggenau, Germany. The first Freightliner Cascadia models with the new 12-speed installed rolled off the assembly line at the company’s Cleveland, NC, plant on May 6. The transmission will initially only be available in the Cascadia with its proprietary Detroit DD15 engine. Daimler officials said that availability of the automated transmission with the DD13 will be added in October, followed by the DD16 next year. No timetable was announced for availability in other Freightliner and Western Star models. In addition to improved fuel economy in the range of 4% compared to the average driver, benefits of the DT12 include lower driver fatigue, lighter weight, and less

Production of the DT12 transmission has begun in Germany. clutch wear for lower maintenance costs and better uptime, the company said. Features include a range of advanced electronic controls that provide skip shifting, coasting under downhill conditions, driveline protection, three driver-selectable operating modes, and optional direct drive. Matched with the DD15, it’s rated for 455 to 505 hp. with peak torque input of 1,550 to 1,750 lbs.-ft. It is fully integrated with Detroit’s Virtual Technician onboard diagnostic system.

Oil offers improved fuel economy


hampion Oil has announced a new SAE 5W-30 UltraFleet API-CJ4 synthetic heavy-duty diesel motor oil. According to Champion, realworld field trials showed the oil reduces engine wear and corrosion while maintaining viscometric properties and protects engine and exhaust system components. Test users of the oil also saw an

average of 3.3%, and up to 4.5%, fuel economy improvement over a conventional SAE 15W-40 API CJ-4 lubricant tested at an independent facility using the SAE J1321 protocol, Champion said. The oil is formulated with a friction modifier system that enables it to reduce internal drag, resulting in maximum engine power output.

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parts & service

Propane steps up A lternative fuels have traditionally staked out their own little niches in the trucking world. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) seems to work best in long-haul trucking operations; compressed natural gas (CNG) in shorter-haul operations. Hydrogen fuel is finding some success in port operation, and propane autogas has been relegated primarily to light-duty vehicles and school buses. “The truth of the matter is there is room for both CNG and propane applications,” Roy Willis, president & CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council, told American Trucker. “The question is, which one is right for which application?” Operators of medium-duty trucks who have not traditionally been able to consider propane now have a choice to make. A new Ford F-59 stripped cab chassis available with a propanepowered 6.8L V10 engine from Roush CleanTech that uses a 67 usable gallon fuel tank has opened up the medium-duty market. Accord-

The FCCC S2G chassis will be available with a propane system. ing to Willis, the vehicle, now available with a 30,000-lb.-GVW rating, is suited to fleet delivery applications. And another entry, this one from CleanFuel USA and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC), will bring a 33,000-lb.-GVW vehicle to market. This vehicle, built on FCCC’s S2G chassis, is equipped with CleanFuel’s liquid propane-injected engine technology. First introduced at the 2012 NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, the vehicle could be certified by EPA soon, Willis said. Limited production could start this summer with full production available in the fall, he added.

DAT expands load board D

AT Load Boards has added 25% more equipment types to its DAT 3sixty and TruckersEdge spot market listing services. The company said the enhanced listings will help flatbed and other specialty load providers— freight brokers, 3PLs, and shippers—move freight requiring specialized equipment. The list of 72 trailer types expands the cargo that freight brokers, 3PLs,

10 American Trucker/July 2013

and other load providers can post and helps motor carriers find freight that exactly matches their available equipment. The trailer types include specialty items such as overdimension lowboy, over-dimension flatbed, and step-deck Conestoga. More than 68 million loads and trucks are posted annually on DAT 3sixty and TruckersEdge, the company said.

Replacement clutch line T

RP has announced a new line of clutch replacement components, including clutch brakes, pilot bearings, clutch release yokes, and clutch installation kits. Included in the line are hinged locking clutch brakes, along with torque limiting and two-piece clutch brakes, and hightemperature pilot bearings that withstand hotter temperatures. TRP also offers standard pilot bearings and high-temperature pilot bearings for high-torque engines that operate at low RPMs and higher temperatures. The pilot bearings come in 2.833x1.179-in. and 2.440 x 0.985-in. sizes.

Collision repair parts


-State Trucks has launched a line of aftermarket collision repair parts that fit all major commercial truck makes and models. The Best Fit line is designed to provide a combination of selection and value. The company warehouse stocks a full inventory, and most major make and model parts can ship the same day, the company said. “As of today, there is no company servicing every aspect of collision replacement parts outside of ordering factory-direct,” said Bryan Martin, co-owner of 4-State Trucks. “We designed Best Fit to offer a complete aftermarket solution for any major make or model involved in a collision. You won’t have to order your new hood and fenders at one shop, get your headlights at another source, and your passenger side fuel tank somewhere else.”

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parts & service

Transmission fluids M ack Trucks and Volvo Trucks have both launched proprietary transmission fluids. Mack’s Bulldog mDrive SAE 75W-80 fully synthetic transmission lubricant is engineered specifically to complement the performance of its mDrive. The company said the fluid includes a grade that maintains the fuel economy benefits of the mDrive through reduced viscous churn, smoother gear meshing, and easier pumping and filtering. A high viscosity index allows for lowtemperature fluidity for quicker starts, easy shifts, and reduced wear during cold startups while providing

strong lubricating films at higher temperatures. The fluid is formulated to meet the exacting transmission fluid 97318 specification, Mack said. Volvo Trucks’ fully synthetic SAE 75W-80 fluid for its I-Shift automated manual transmission is approved for drain intervals up to 500,000 mi., depending on vehicle model and application. The fluid also provides thermal durability and oxidation resistance to protect against deposit formation, and to contribute to long seal life and extended oil drain intervals.

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5W-30 synthetic now available E

xxonMobil Fuels, Lubricants & Specialties Marketing has released a new synthetic oil for engine protection, improved fuel economy, and long drain intervals. The Mobil Delvac 1 LE 5W-30 is recommended for diesel-powered commercial vehicles and is said to meet or exceed a broad range of manufacturer specs. According to ExxonMobil, testing showed improved average fuel economy of 1.5% for city driving conditions and 1% for highway driving in Freightliner Cascadia trucks when compared to using conventional mineral lubricants.

t i re ra c k


Assessing torque risk


A ccording to Newton’s third law of motion, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction in the physical world. The same can be said for a lot of events, so the impact of installing wheels with the correct amount of torque can definitely invoke the spirit of the famous scientist. As ridiculous as it seems, it’s not uncommon for the instances of loose to increase after Proper wheel wheels abandoning the “good tight” school in favor torque remains a and of a program that delivthe correct amount fleet concern ers of force every time a fastener is tightened. But the torque wrench isn’t a magic wand that mysteriously ensures every wheel will stay attached to the axle. In fact, the torque wrench is more like an oven. Anyone can set the oven to a specific temperature, but following the recipe is essential for success because it depends on the proper amount of every ingredient. In that sense, proper torque is the setting on the oven, and the recipe determines the amount of clamping force. Every good recipe has a foundation; in this case, it’s technician training. There are a number of different steps that must take place before the torque wrench can take the stage. For example, hub-pilot wheel systems require oil as a lubricant in order for the proper clamping force to be reached at the correct torque. The failure to apply this essential component to the process will result in less clamping force at the correct torque. Several different factors must be in place for each type of wheel or rim system to perform with the correct amount of torque. It takes trained technicians to make sure it’s done the same way every time for each system, and that repeatability is critical for success.

Like every machine or mechanical device, the torque wrench also has a finite lifespan when it comes to accuracy. Proper storage and maintenance can go a long way towards extending the life of a torque wrench or torque device. The best practice, however, is to follow the recommended recalibration schedule so there is documented proof that the tool has been periodically checked and recalibrated when necessary. Without a doubt, the ingredient that is the most often overlooked or ignored is the torque check following installation. The wheel companies recommend a 50-100 mi. interval, but that guideline is followed so rarely that it might as well not exist. In most cases, a few left- and right-hand turns with a speed bump or two is enough for the wheels to settle in after installation. The difficulty lies in the situations where a fastener was previously over-torqued to the point that it started to yield but did not break. In these instances, a technician can do everything correctly and use a perfectly calibrated torque wrench, but the wheels still come loose. Since the best way to find a fatigued fastener is to measure the torque shortly after installation, the torque check becomes even more important. Fleets have come to expect service providers will use torque control devices when installing wheels, but most of them are unwilling to accommodate any type of torque check. Drivers don’t want the hassle and dispatchers don’t want to lose the time, but the folks down in risk management need to understand that in most cases, there will be a missing ingredient to the clamping force recipe. And it’s totally up to the fleet to bring it to the table. AT

12 American Trucker/July 2013 for used equipment listings

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tr ucks at work


Planning the proper move Drivers and equipment at heart of fleet’s success


The very nature of the household goods moving industry presents unique fleet management challenges for Daryl Flood Relocation & Logistics, notes Jason Smith, director of fleet services. Founded by its namesake in 1982, the Mayflower Transit agent operates from three facilities in Dallas, Houston and Austin, TX. The company fleet, which is pulled by dedicated owner-operators, consists of more than 130 trailers. “We understand that schedules are important to our customers,” Smith relates, “but driver on-duty time can be limited under the new hours-of-service rules. That’s where we not only have to educate drivers, we also have to change our customers’ perspective.” The advent of CSA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety initiative, has also changed the way Daryl Flood operates. “We travel in residential areas where there are obstacles that over-the-road truckers don’t usually

14 American Trucker/July 2013

face, like low hanging tree limbs and obstacles on private property,” Smith says. “Under CSA those types of incidents count, so we are constantly evaluating what it takes to improve safety.” For that reason, Daryl Flood subscribes to Vigillo CSA Scorecards provided under a program set up by Mayflower. “The scorecards, including daily updates on CSA inspections, help us understand our scores and identify problem violations within our pool of drivers and compare [those] to other groups within Mayflower,” Smith explains. “We also use the Vigillo Driver Data Manager to upload driver lists, and define and break down scores into groups that reflect our business.” Nothing is left to chance either when it comes to equipment that sports the Daryl Flood name. “We try to help owner-operators make effective choices,” Smith states. “At our annual driver meeting, we bring

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in a tractor supplier to provide an overview of the latest technologies. We also make maintenance recommendations and strictly enforce inspection requirements.” Smith describes the more than 130 Kentucky Trailer moving vans in the Daryl Flood fleet, which are assigned to drivers, as “exceptionally new.” The average trailer used in Interstate service in the fleet is a 2010 model. Built for moving household and office goods, the drop-frame vans have side doors, belly boxes, and air-ride suspensions. There are six interior LED lights in the newest units. Recent trailer purchases include lighter weight specs. “We’ve cut our empty trailer weight by about 3,000 lbs. in the past few years,” Smith reports. “Spec changes call for eliminating the rearmost belly box and the spare tire carrier. We’ve also moved to a vinyl interior lining, which is lighter than plywood. In addition, we now specify translucent roof panels, which are not only lighter but provide light during the day and are easier and less costly to repair.” Daryl Flood also focuses on tires, which are susceptible to damage from scrubbing and curbing. Specs call for 19.5-in. radials for low-bed, high-cube operations, including Michelin XTA 2 Energy and Continental models, and new trailers are being fitted with the Meritor Tire Inflation System by PSI. A new challenge that Daryl Flood is addressing is the pending mandate for electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs). “We’re not planning to wait until FMCSA creates the actual regulation and an implementation timetable,” Smith states. “We’re already discussing EOBRs with drivers and considering whether to buy the units and lease them to our operators.” for used equipment listings


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business of trucking

Modern approach Set your business on an evolutionary path B Y


B R A D Y,



he temptation for many truckers in today’s logistics business environment is to consider a revolution—an insurrection of sorts. Why? With new regulations coming down the pike, not only from Washington

16 American Trucker/July 2013


but every state capital, the increasing cost of equipment and labor, and the ups and downs of fuel costs, it’s becoming an effort in futility to set and maintain profitable rates and reasonable revenue levels. Is a revolution the solution? The

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biggest problem with revolutions is the cost to the little guy trying to gain ground against larger, bettersupplied and better-equipped forces. Only a few of the revolutionaries ever survive the insurrection. But if not a revolt, then what? Are you trying to compete with B Model Mack technology in a world filled with Cascadias, ProStars, 579s, T880s, and Pinnacles? Have you been updating and improving your business model, ensuring it evolves with the changing environment of the logistics hauling industry? Remember how goods were transported from Point A to Point B back in the olden days? If you look at the 30-year period from the 1890s to the late 1920s, the difference in how freight was handled and transported evolved by leaps and bounds—from for used equipment listings

the horse and wagon to the internal combustion engine. Now take a look at the 30-year period from 1983 to 2013. What has changed? Almost everything. Fuel mileage has nearly doubled; more powerful engines and stronger powertrains have been introduced; computer technology that eclipses the power of the computers that put a man on the moon in the late ’60s has been developed; and communications and tracking capabilities that were nothing but science fiction in the 1980s are now a reality. The question is, has your business evolved, or are you still driving your business like that old B Model Mack? Here are some ways to make sure you’re evolving rather than just attempting a revolution: ❑ Where do you stand on technology? Are you still using a basic phone instead of a smartphone? What about satellite communications and tracking? Now don’t get me wrong here. Not all of the new-fangled technology is beneficial to operating your business; however, if you’re still running your operation on Windows 98 (almost as bad as DOS) or not using a smartphone, you’ll be left in the dust by those who are proficient in using many of these technologies. ❑ Are you up-to-date on all that’s going on in the world of logistics? It’s all about being current on what shippers and receivers are doing and what challenges they face. If you don’t know, you can’t help solve your customers’ freight shipping problems. Keep up-to-date with the shipping world, because many times another company’s solution may become a component to the problemsolving and troubleshooting you do for your customers. It’s all about staying informed. ❑ Are you fighting for your rights? Many of us object to the vast major-

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ity of new regulations being thrust upon our industry; however, the fact is, it’s too late to fight a regulation once it’s on the books. So while the new rules are in the development stage, not only should you fight to stop them, but you need to be putting together a strategy on how you and your truckers will make them work to your business advantage.

A trucker is...continually adding new information and knowledge through research, observation and education—all things required to keep his carrier at the top of the evolutionary chain. ❑ Have you reduced rolling resistance, improved fuel mileage and aerodynamics, and stopped idling? Every drop of fuel that stays in your fuel tank and doesn’t go out the exhaust is money that goes to your bottom line. That old B Model Mack was lucky to get 4 mpg. There are OTR semis today pushing the 8 and 9 mpg threshold, which equals 12,500 gals. of fuel saved for every 100,000 mi. driven. At $4/gal., that’s a cool $50,000 in savings per year. Are you burning too many decomposed dinosaurs and, in effect, making your operation a dinosaur too? Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” In other words, just because it worked in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in the present or carry us into the future. Knowledge is the best resource for used equipment listings

we have for solving the challenges truckers face. It comes from many places—experience, success and failure, just to name a few. We can also learn by observing others and emulating their victories while avoiding their mistakes. But the one knowledge resource many already in business forget is education. Take courses to improve the skills required to be competitive and successful. While there have been many individuals who have successfully owned and operated a trucking business with a high school diploma or less, the complex challenges faced in today’s trucking industry make some specific courses a necessity if you wish to keep that competitive edge. Those courses could include the latest technologies, but they may also include the management skills necessary to obtain the best freight to haul or how to hire the best drivers. The evolutionary trucker is a Renaissance individual, one who’s constantly on the prowl for new methods that are evaluated and then used if they are proven to provide a true benefit to the operation. A trucker never takes anything at face value, but looks at how it will improve the bottom line. He’s continually adding new information and knowledge through research, observation and education—all the things required to keep his carrier at the top of the evolutionary chain. Take control of your business by becoming an evolutionary trucker. Be the one others follow by staying out front with the right technology, skills and knowledge. AT Contact Tim Brady at tbrady@ or call 731-749-8567. Join Brady in the Trucking Business Community at

American Trucker/July 2013 17

shop talk

Fluid check MANAGER: Dale Johnson TITLE: Equipment manager FLEET: Hamm Inc., a Summit Materials subsidiary, Perry, KS OPERATION: Heavy construction fleet operating a mix of highway tractors, off-road trucks and heavy equipment such as bulldozers and front-end loaders


ny equipment manager will tell you that oil functions as the lifeblood of just about any type of engine, be it one powering a highway tractor, bulldozer, or front-end loader. Yet changing engine oil poses costs to any fleet business, regardless of equipment type, as the additional costs associated with oil disposal fees, shop time, and unit downtime can add up to a pretty penny on the budget spreadsheet. However, extending oil drain intervals can pose risks, too, especially if intervals get extended too far and lead to



engine damage, costly repairs, and even longer stretches of unprofitable downtime—not inconsiderable impacts, explains Dale Johnson, equipment manager for Hamm. “With heavy-duty equipment valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, failure can result in huge production losses and enormous repair costs for us,” he says. So Johnson needed to figure out how to extend oil drain intervals to the right mileage/hour point in order to reduce all oil change-related costs. At the same time, he needed to ensure that extended intervals didn’t pose any risks of premature wear and tear.

egular oil analysis is the solution Hamm adopted about 25 years ago, settling on the Engine Guard oil sampling program offered by Universal Lubricants. “Their lab team provides an extra set of eyes on our equipment and other assets, which has helped us in our overall maintenance practices,” Johnson explains. “As a result, we have lengthened oil change intervals in each asset category and that keeps our equipment running longer and more efficiently.” Johnson adds that using oil analysis convinced him to change some of Hamm’s maintenance practices, too. Dust in the air cleaners is a perennial issue for Hamm. “In the early days, we used to blow the dust out of our air cleaners every other oil change,” Johnson points out. “But when we started conducting oil analysis, we found we were getting a high amount of silica in the oil—material that could potentially increase the wear and tear on our engines, if not damage them. As a result, we now just replace the air cleaner filters.” Adopting an oil analysis program “no doubt helped us extend the useful life of our equipment and avoid un-

planned downtime,” Johnson says. That has helped keep the company’s overall costs down and allows it to offer competitive rates in the markets it serves. Mike Wyant, manager of technical services for Universal Lubricants, notes that Hamm’s use of oil analysis also helps the company get ahead of major engine and related component problems. “That’s the real method to the madness, so to speak,” he explains. “When we’re analyzing oil on a regular basis and suddenly find engine coolant, or water, or other materials, we know immediately there’s a problem—and that forewarning can help prevent a catastrophic breakdown from occurring.” In many ways, Wyant says oil analysis in the fleet world can be compared to brushing one’s teeth: It’s a necessary ritual for maintaining good equipment hygiene. “You need to conduct oil analysis on a regular, consistent basis. You need to make it routine, just like you need to brush your teeth several times a day, every day,” he says. “It serves as an early indicator of problems that can be corrected before they cause sudden equipment failures or prolonged downtime.”

18 American Trucker/July 2013 for used equipment listings


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Shifting pattern The manual transmission may be losing ground for good to non-shifting models. BY SEAN KILC ARR, EDITOR

cover story


o shift or not to shift? That is the question facing many trucking firms these days where truck transmissions are concerned. And increasingly the decision is to favor non-shifting technology in order to improve fuel economy and attractiveness of the truck driver job profile as well. For example, according to Volvo Trucks, nearly 50% of all the Class 8s ordered in 2012 by its U.S. fleet customers were spec’d with the Volvo I-Shift automated mechanical transmission (AMT). The 12-speed, single-countershaft transmission is built up with a splitter, a main section with three forward gears and one reverse gear, and a range gear that doesn’t require a clutch pedal. Ed Saxman, formerly Volvo’s drivetrain product manager and now its alternative fuels product manager, says the reason behind that upward swing in AMT demand is simple: It’s getting drivers to operate the vehicle in the correct, fuelsipping way every day regardless of their experience level.


“One of I-Shift’s key advantages is that it makes even drivers with limited experience shift as expertly as the best drivers for improved fuel economy and less stress on the driveline and tires,” Saxman says. That reason alone has fueled a steady shift among truckers over the last several years to automated and now even fully automatic transmissions for their heavy trucks, adds Shane Groner, product planning manager for the NAFTA region at Eaton Corp. And while manuals still maintain market supremacy, that grip is slowly and perhaps permanently loosening. Groner emphasizes that while

sales of AMTs, which are essentially electronically controlled manual transmissions, and automatic transmissions, which utilize a torque converter, won’t overtake those of their manual brethren within the next five years, they’ll definitely rise to dominate the market within the next 10 to 15 years. Right now, he explains, it’s the cost premium holding many companies back from making the shift to AMTs and fully automatic units. An AMT can cost about $2,000 more than a comparable manual 10-speed transmission, he says. Yet many carriers are also beginning to realize that AMTs and their fully automatic brethren can save big bucks over their operating life in a variety of ways, offsetting that extra upfront cost. “The big value driver is fuel economy,” Groner explains. “For example, the software controlling our UltraShift Plus AMT makes every shift just like ones made by the very best drivers in a given fleet, meaning that every truck, not just the ones driven by the most skilled drivers, has the opportunity to maximize fuel economy.” Indeed, such potential convinced engine maker Cummins to join with Eaton on the development of a new powertrain package for linehaul, regional-haul and LTL operation. According to the OEMs, the combination, released late last year, delivers 3% to 6% better fuel economy compared to existing engine-trans-

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mission combinations while also lowering preventive maintenance costs and improving total lifecycle costs. The package consists of the Eaton Fuller Advantage Series automated transmission offered as a small ratio step overdrive model and two Cummins ISX15 SmartTorque2 ratings: the ISX15 415 ST2, with torque of 1,450 to 1650 lbs.-ft., and the ISX15 450 ST2, with torque of 1,550 to 1,750 lbs.-ft. Optimized engine and transmission communications and new control logic also enable improved “downspeeding” in the overdrive position to help boost potential fuel economy savings further, a strategy Volvo Trucks deployed with its XE13 powertrain package two years ago for its VN tractor models. (XE stands for exceptional efficiency.)


The heart of the XE13 package is the I-Shift AMT, a Volvo D13 engine that includes modified software and taller axle ratios. The I-Shift AMT is considered the “linchpin” of the new efficiency package, as it’s a mandatory component of the setup, explains Volvo’s Saxman. “It’s an example of total integration,” he says. “Both the engine and the automated transmission know the vehicle’s GCW and grade profile and one [engine or AMT control module] may have authority over the other in certain situations while traveling on the road. The software in the package was developed specifically to reflect North American highway driving patterns.” The potential for fuel savings generated by AMTs in part convinced Germany’s Daimler AG to bring its DT12 12-speed AMT from Europe to the North American market. It was initially offered this year on the Freightliner Cascadia tractor pack-

American Trucker/July 2013 21

cover story aged with a Detroit DD15 engine. A model packaged with the DD13 will be added in October and one with a DD16 will follow in 2014. The AMT has quickly become the dominant long-haul truck transmission in Europe since its introduction two years ago, the OEM notes. While adoption by U.S. long-haul fleets is expected to be somewhat slower, “a good two-digit penetration figure is within sight,” the company says, given the potential to lower total cost of ownership for users. Eventually, Daimler says it hopes to offer 8- and 16-speed variants of its AMT as well.


Fuel savings are also at the heart of Allison Transmission’s new fully automatic gearbox as well, noting that customer test fleets trying out the TC10 fully automatic Class 8 transmission documented an average 5% in fuel economy improvements versus manual varieties. “Approximately 100 major fleets throughout the U.S., representing a variety of applications, have been using our TC10 transmission in real-world duty cycles over the last two years,” notes Jim Wanaselja, vice

president-North America marketing, sales and service for Allison. “The better fuel economy, coupled with Allison’s renowned reliability, durability and ease of operation makes the TC10 a powerful tool for improving fleet efficiency.” He says the TC10 is specifically designed for both city and highway tractor duty cycles and provides a blended architecture with full-power shifts, a torque converter, and a twin countershaft gearbox to offer fully automatic and smooth, seamless shifting through 10 gear ranges. This optimizes acceleration and fuel economy, making this transmission ideal for distribution applications where a tractor-trailer splits its work cycle between city and highway conditions, Wanaselja points out. That’s one reason why the “driver skills” question now overshadows almost everything in the Class 8 market, adds Darry Stuart, president of DWS Fleet Management Services,

Volvo notes that in 2012, 50% of its Class 8 orders included an I-Shift transmission.

22 American Trucker/July 2013

Allison says TC10 testing shows a 5% fuel savings. who spent 30 years of his four-decade career in transportation managing fleets across the trucking spectrum. “The pool of new drivers simply doesn’t learn how to shift gears growing up anymore,” he explains. “Consequently, transmissions must be easier to use, more robust and provide better fuel economy.”


Thus, spec’ing gearboxes that allow for “shift-free” truck driving environments can help fleets widen their driver recruiting net to fill empty truck seats—a problem that’s only projected to grow in size and scope. Rosalyn “Roz” Wilson, senior business analyst with Delcan Corp. and primary author of the annual State of Logistics report released in June, noted several critical challenges where truck drivers are concerned. “The trucking sector has been in a delicate balance for several years now, just on the breach of experiencing capacity problems,” she explains. “Utilization rates are at all-time highs with load volumes on the rise, but new regulations are expected to take a bite out of industry productivity, especially the new hours-of-service (HOS) rules from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.” Wilson said the new HOS rules

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cover story

Daimler’s DT12 AMT (inset) will be offered on the Freightliner Cascadia tractor this year.

Yet DWS’s Stuart contends that neither transmission choice offers fleets a slam dunk option, largely because they are far more expensive than the familiar and reliable 10- and 13-speed manuals that continue to dominate the on-highway world. The higher sticker price for AMTs and automatic transmissions as well as more costly maintenance and downtime considerations can make a wash of their touted advantages, such as fuel savings. Stuart, though, still believes their simplicity of operation for the next generation of drivers is a huge advantage. “That lack of shifting ability is a big challenge facing this industry now and in the future, and that has to be weighed against the [AMT and automatic] price premium and maintenance costs,” he says. As the focus on fuel efficiency only heightens, the shift to automated and automatic technology will likely continue. It’s a shift that many carriers are now pondering. AT

that went into effect July 1 represent a theoretical 17% reduction in a standard work-week for truck drivers, with estimates on their actual impact falling somewhere between a 2% to 10% trucking productivity decrease.

Thus, it is the contention of many that AMTs and fully automatic transmissions could make attracting new blood to the driver position easier, especially among a younger generation not used to shifting gears.



She also notes that carriers were still reporting difficulty finding enough drivers, with the industry short about 30,000, even before the new rules went into effect. “The HOS changes could have the effect of a net 2% to 5% reduction in driver capacity, so projecting that out arrives at the need for another 100,000 drivers,” Wilson warns. “That is without an increase in volume.” With only about 17% of the current driver population under age 35 and a far larger portion of the driver population reaching retirement age, there just does not appear to be enough drivers to fill the available seats, she stresses.

24 American Trucker/July 2013

Things were a lot simpler when fleets only had to differentiate between manual and automatic transmissions, so here’s some clarification of the technology involved: Manual: A constant mesh transmission with shifting done by the driver through manipulation of the shift lever and foot clutch. Semi-automated manual: A constant mesh transmission with gear selection done by the driver through manipulation of an electronic shift module. Either pneumatic or electronic systems can be used to move shift forks and rails; a foot clutch is used for starts and stops only. Automated manual: A constant mesh transmission with gear selection done automatically. Pneumatic or electronic actuators move shift forks and rails, yet no foot clutch is needed. Available in two-pedal (no clutch) or three-pedal format; the latter allows the driver to disengage the automated system and drive manually. Automatic: Shifts are made via electronic controls. Engine torque is not interrupted during the shift, but it is controlled to maintain output torque.

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spotlight on an

5,000 mi. and do a full servicing of that vehicle.


What is the primary focus of your business?

How do you ensure good mileage from tires?

Our focus is to give superior service to every customer and to be wellstocked and equipped to handle all jobs.

Do you think of yourself as a trucking company or one that uses trucks in the course of conducting business? As we have grown, we’ve had to change our focus from a company that uses trucks to one that is more of a fleet company. Our trucks and vans are the lifeblood of our company.

Do you have regularly scheduled routes? We are an on-demand service company; our routes change every day.

We maintain proper air pressure and then rotate tires at regular servicing times.

Do you stock any parts for your trucks or purchase as needed?

Danny Larcom Heating and Air

We only stock the basics for all vehicles: oil, lights, wiper blades, and fluids.

Owner: Danny Larcom

How do you determine when it’s time to replace a truck?

In business: Since 1999 Location: Union City, TN Danny Larcom Heating and Air currently has 12,500 sq. ft. of office, shop and warehouse space to accommodate all aspects of residential and light commercial heating, air and electrical work. The company has 14 vehicles and 21 employees.

We try and determine that based on the amount of repair cost and downtime that the vehicle is generating. When those two things get to an unreasonable amount, we then make a decision to replace.

How is maintenance handled? We handle most small Website: maintenance jobs in- house. For example, we try and do all oil changes, wiper blades, lights, etc. We’re fortunate to have a local shop that goes out of its way to handle as much of our maintenance in the evenings or on the weekends as possible to ensure that we have as little downtime as possible.

What are your specifications for your trucks? We have just started replacing our vans with 10ft. box trucks. The size of these trucks seems to accommodate the inventory we carry to ensure we have what we need for any given job.

Are you able to find these on the used market? What challenges do you face with your maintenance program? It’s a challenge to make sure that all of our drivers notify us of any potential problems, schedule the time to get the repairs done, and ensure that the problem doesn’t affect our customers.

What are your intervals on preventive maintenance? Our drivers are required to do weekly checks on their vehicles, and then we pull each truck off the road around

28 American Trucker/July 2013

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We buy used trucks and customize them to fit our needs in terms of shelving, stock, GPS tracking, and appearance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Spotlight on an American Trucker “ is a monthly feature that aims to bring American Trucker’s readership to life by putting names and faces alongside successes. for used equipment listings

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focus on...

Air suspensions


Air ride suspension design should optimize fuel efficiency and tire life, notes Bill Wakefield, senior manager, trailer product strategy at Meritor. “That involves maintaining proper alignment of axles as the trailer travels down the road,” he explains. “A design that eliminates excessive movement of suspension components will reduce uneven tire wear and tire-to-road surface resistance.” “Our engineering design parameters for trailer air suspension systems are focused on fuel economy, tire and wheel end life, braking, weight and corrosion,” says Randy Flanagan, marketing and sales director for trailer systems at SAF-Holland. “Over the past few years, we have introduced new models of air ride sliding as well as fixed frame suspensions that meet those criteria.” Itamar Levine, director of sales & marketing at Hendrickson Trailer Commercial Vehicle Systems, points to the company’s recently launched “shockless” Zero Maintenance Damping (ZMD) system as the latest in air suspension design. “ZMD air springs integrate the damping function traditionally performed by shock absorbers within the air spring by exchanging pressurized air through interconnecting channels between the bellows and piston of the spring,” he explains. “ZMD air springs provide continuous and consistent damping levels, and eliminating shock absorbers reduces maintenance.” Meritor RideSentry for trailers is an example of a suspension that incorporates an integrated system, which eliminates the need to inspect and maintain the axle to suspension connection. Offered in 20,000-, 38,000- and 40,000-lb. models, RideSentry’s parallelogram design, in which air springs are positioned directly over the axles and upper control arms act as roll bars, absorbs stress on the axle and eliminates dock walk. Among the newest air suspension offerings from SAF-Holland is Auto-PosiLift for the SAF CBX40 tandem axle air ride sliding trailer suspension. Auto-PosiLift is programmed to automatically lift the front axle when the system senses that only one axle is necessary to carry the load.

Suppliers are also making the aftermarket selection process simpler. Firestone Industrial Products provides detailed air spring replacement information and notes the importance of selecting the correct spring because even slight changes in design, construction or materials can make significant differences in performance. At Triangle Suspension Systems, the WebSST program enables a progressive search for the correct replacement air springs by a variety of parameters, including vehicle makes and models as well as system dimensions. Watson & Chalin’s SL-2065 Tru-Track is FOR MORE INFORMATION, a 20,000-lb.-capacity, VISIT THESE WEB SITES: self-steering axle and lift suspension system. The AKTAS NORTH AMERICA SL-2065 weighs 1,327 lbs. and “maintains the AXN HEAVY DUTY durability and features of the Tru-Track family CONTITECH AIR SPRING SYSTEMS by delivering outstand- ing maneuverability ENERGY SUSPENSION with an industry-lead- ing 25-deg. wheel cut.” FIRESTONE INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS The DockMaster 400 is Reyco GranTRAILER COMMERCIAL ning’s newest air- HENDRICKSON VEHICLE SYSTEMS ride slider trailer suspension. It’s deMERITOR signed for increased strength, making it ideal for newer drivers REYCO GRANNING SUSPENSIONS who may put added stress on suspensions RIDEWELL SUSPENSIONS due to increased curb- ing, the company said. SAF-HOLLAND The RAR-240 series of trailer air-ride sus- TRIANGLE SUSPENSION SYSTEMS pensions include yoke mount suspensions VEYANCE TECHNOLOGIES designed for use with Ridewell brand axles with Wabco PAN 22 air WATSON & CHALIN disc brakes.

30 American Trucker/July 2013 for used equipment listings

Lighter weight remains a goal of manufacturers

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NPTC’s National Safety Conference is an intense, concentrated overview of key issues of interest and importance to running private fleet operations at an exceptionally high standard of safety. The program includes topics identified by leading private fleet practitioners as vital to enhancing their safety performance:


Complying with the New Hours of Service Regulations


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The Future of Truck Safety Regulations



Predictive Analytics: Preventing the Accident Before It Happens

Exploring the Safety of Alternative Fuels and Natural Gas



Distracted Driving: Implementing Policies That Keep the Drivers Focused

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Best Practices in Mitigating Sleep Apnea


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The Impact of Telematics on Driver Behavior


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readers’ r igs

This month’s featured trucks... S end us a photo for judging in our monthly Readers’ Rigs showcase. Each month’s winner gets entered into the championship round, with the Grand Champion Reader Rig selected and profiled in American Trucker’s December issue.

Jay Transport Ucon, ID

Email your truck pictures to: SEAN KILCARR EMAIL: TELEPHONE: 7035691829

D-Bar-D Trucking Shipshewana, IN

V-Max Transportation Zeeland, MI

32 American Trucker/July 2013

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American Trucker West July Edition  

American Trucker West July Edition