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Canada further delays trailer GHG rule, as U.S. legal challenges continue



OTTAWA, Ont. – Canada will further delay a coming round of trailer-related GHG regulations by up to one more year, as a legal challenge continues around similar rules in the U.S.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) trailer standards continue to be legally stayed, and ECCC [Environment and Climate Change Canada] continues to monitor U.S. developments, as well as the economic impacts if Canada proceeded to implement the trailer standards without the standards of the U.S. EPA being in force,” says an ECCC notice distributed by the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association.

The first delay came in the form of an interim order issued on May 27, 2019. The second interim order is expected before May 27, 2020, to avoid a regulatory gap.

It’s the first time emissions-related standards would be applied to trailers, requiring enhancements such as aerodynamic devices.

Canadian regulators also say they will be reaching out to stakeholders this spring to discuss economic trends in Canada’s trailer market, and to seek comments on the next steps for trailer standards in Canada.

The GHG standards for trailers have been supported by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

“As a result of the US legal issues and questions surrounding the integration of manufacturing practices for North American trailer makers, CTA requested ECCC re-examine the specifics of the Canadian trailer rule in light of the U.S. delay and its impact on the Canadian industry and timelines for compliance,” the CTA said today in a written statement. “Both the Canadian trucking and trailer manufacturing community supported the call.”



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Mack, Volvo update Over-the-Air updates


over the air updates

Volvo and Mack Over The Air Updates now allow drivers to begin powertrain software updates at times that fit their driving and rest schedules. (Photo: Jack Roberts)

ATLANTA, Ga. — Mack Trucks unveiled its version of driver-activated Over The Air Updates capabilities at the 2020 TMC Annual Meeting. Over The Air Updates is a remote software that enables customers to activate their software updates on their own schedule 24/7 while also improving uptime, according to Stu Russoli, Mack highway product manager.

Just a couple of booths over on the TMC show floor, Volvo Trucks, which previously released its own Over The Air Update program, was giving transportation journalists overviews of the program to showcase the advantages it offers fleets and drivers alike.

Ash Makki, North American product manager, Volvo Trucks, said that Over The Air Updates now alert drivers when a system update is available. The alert, which appears in the center cluster of a Volvo or Mack dashboard, informs the driver as to what the system will be updated and how long the update will take. Makki confirmed Russoli, noting that the majority of updates now take less than 15 minutes, due to the “maturity” of the current generation of Volvo and Mack powertrains. “Most of our powertrains are now refined to the point where lengthy, major system updates are no longer necessary,” Makki said.

If the driver is in a situated where he or she cannot initiate the programming update, the system gives them a 28-window to do so, with an “Update” reminder icon flashing each time the truck is started up. The icon also displays constantly in a “background” setting on the dash panel while the truck is in service.

When the driver finally decides to initiate the update, Makki noted that Over The Air Updates sends a series of messages, repeating the amount of time required to complete the update and confirming that the driver does wish to proceed at that time. “As with any programming updates, we don’t want it to be interrupted once it starts,” Makki explained. “So we take extra messaging steps to make sure the driver is ready to begin the update and has ample time to allow it to finish.”

One important feature that both Russoli and Makki emphasized is a new password-confirmation screen that can shift the initiation command from the driver back to fleet managers. “We understand that some fleets will prefer to have control up the software updating process,” Russoli said. “If fleet managers opt for the the password confirmation screen, then a driver cannot initiate an Over The Air Update until they have received the proper password and can proceed.”

According to Russoli, Mack Over The Air, allows remote software updates and the setting of vehicle parameters through the OEM’s Mack GuardDog Connect integrated telematics solution. Available beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020, the new driver-activated updates eliminate the need for coordination phone calls with Mack OneCall agents, meaning most updates can be completed in less than 15 minutes.

— This article is reproduced under an editorial sharing agreement with Heavy-Duty Trucking magazine.


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New technologies driving fuel economy gains


ATLANTA, Ga. – Diesel exhaust aftertreatment initially brought plenty of headaches to the trucking industry’s maintenance managers, but the systems have improved in reliability and fleets are now enjoying the fuel economy benefits.

Tommy Cottingham, director of maintenance and procurement with J.B. Hunt, said the fleet saw fuel economy increase by 14% since 2007. He was speaking during a panel discussion on sustainability at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s spring meetings. J.B. Hunt waited until 2013 to begin deploying trucks with selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which entered the industry in 2010, and saw further fuel economy improvements.

“We were late to the table,” Cottingham said of its SCR adoption. Between 2013 and 2018 the company has been replacing its trailer fleet.

“Every one of our dry vans are now equipped with skirts and low rolling resistance tires,” said Cottingham. “For a few years there, we saw a really good pickup in fuel economy.”

Spec’ing automated manual transmissions delivered another 1% improvement, and further gains were seen when the company adopted adaptive cruise control and incentivized drivers to use cruise by offering a higher top speed of 65 mph while in cruise.

Aerodynamics have also contributed to J.B. Hunt’s success. Trailer side skirts do incur damage at times, but Cottingham said the fuel economy gains overcome maintenance and damage-related costs. One aerodynamic option J.B. Hunt does not employ are low valence air dams, which are prone to damage.

The company continues to evaluate new technologies, and is currently looking at tire inflation systems, rear trailer aero devices, and wheel covers and fairings. When evaluating technologies, the company looks for an 8% return on invested capital, which generally ensures there’ll be an ROI in real world operating conditions.

John Vesey, a lease-operator with Hirschbach, urged fleets in attendance to not overlook the driver’s role in fuel economy, noting they can swing fuel economy as much as 30% in either direction.

“You want buy-in from your drivers,” he said. Vesey also emphasized the importance of relationships with vendors, and urged fleets to ask for third-party testimonials before committing to a technology.

C&S Wholesale Groceries, which runs about 1,000 power units, has smoothed out replacement cycles to take advantage of new fuel-saving technologies.

“A quarter of our tractors get replaced every year,” said Chris Trajkovski, vice-president. “We don’t have these peaks and valleys. We did the same thing with reefers and dry vans.”

Since 2017, C&S Wholesale Groceries has decreased its diesel consumption by 20%. It has also increased reliability and enhanced driver satisfaction.

“Stabilizing the fleet with a replacement plan was really key,” Trajkovski said.

Jacob White, director of product marketing at Peterbilt, urged fleets to work to reduce trailer gap for further fuel savings. He said most fleets run a 50-inch trailer gap, while 43 inches is optimal. Shortening the trailer gap from 50 inches to 43 produces a 1% fuel savings at highway speeds, White said, and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Rear axle ratios continue to become faster, but the most economic ratio depends on speed, grade and application. When climbing a 6% grade, a 2.93 ratio outperforms the 3.08, on a 2% grade the 2.64 wins, and a 2.79 ratio wins the race from zero to 60, beating a 2.64 ratio by a full second.

But, “the faster ratio will almost always be more fuel efficient over the road,” White added.


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Used truck sales improve 4% in January


ACT ResearchCOLUMBUS, Ind. – Used Class 8 truck sales improved 4% month-over-month in January, but were down 1% year-over-year, ACT Research said Wednesday.

It also said that used Class 8 average price started 2020 up 7% month-over-month, with average miles dropping 4% sequentially and average age down 2% compared to the last month of 2019.

Longer term, average price, miles and age were all below January 2019, shedding 11%, 1%, and 4%, respectively, ACT said.

“Dealers are reporting that there are more used trucks available and prices are well below late 2018 and early 2019 levels, which has scared many people in trucking,” said Steve Tam, vice-president at ACT Research.

“Many dealers wrote down the values of their used trucks in late 2019 and early 2020, taking losses in late 2019 to properly position dealers for 2020.”

He said the bad news is some large losses had to be taken; the good news is there are some used truck bargains available for savvy buyers.

“Some truckers and dealers are in for rocky times if they have not adjusted their expectations for values on their trades and truck inventory,” Tam added.


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CTA calls for ‘fair and sensible’ approach to carbon pricing application


CTATORONTO, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) Wednesday called on the federal government to take a “fair and sensible approach” to how carbon pricing applies to the trucking industry.

It also urged Ottawa to work in partnership with the private sector as it transitions to the green economy.

“While CTA and Environment and Climate Change Canada continue to work on the details of a potential green incentive fund for the trucking industry, trucking and its supply chain customers are preparing for a hike in the carbon price on diesel with no offsetting carbon equipment purchasing program in place,” the alliance said.

CTA’s director of policy Lak Shoan added that the alliance fully supports the federal government’s mandate to reduce carbon emissions across the country.

“But their current approach to applying carbon pricing to diesel fuel consumed by our sector, with no offsetting carbon equipment incentive program, means our industry is investing in a climate change strategy that produces little emissions savings at a growing cost to the entire supply chain,” Shoan said.

“By reinvesting carbon pricing revenue into a carbon reduction equipment incentive program for Canada’s trucking industry, the federal government would see more adoption and increased market penetration of emissions-reducing technologies, and show carriers their investment at the pump is being redirected toward our sector to further improve the environment.”

The federal carbon pricing regime, which took effect April 2019, has added an additional 5.37 cents a liter in carbon pricing on all diesel fuel consumed by trucking companies in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan (and as of January 1, 2020, Alberta), CTA said.

The carbon price is scheduled to rise to 8.05 cents per liter on April 1, 2020, 10.73 cents per liter in 2021, and 13.41 cents per liter in 2022.

Meanwhile, the Quebec Trucking Association (QTA) has raised an issue of double taxation on the Quebec industry as a result of its members facing both a federal and provincial carbon pricing system.

“The Quebec system (SPEDE) has been duly recognized by the federal government,” said CEO Marc Cadieux.

“Carriers having fueled in Quebec face double taxation when they travel to provinces subject to the federal carbon pricing system… This situation needs to be addressed.”


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Paccar Parts names 2020 Peterbilt Parts Council


RENTON, Wash. – Paccar Parts has appointed the 2020 Peterbilt Parts Council. There are two Canadians in the panel.

The council empowers Peterbilt dealerships across Canada and the U.S. to pursue successful business development opportunities.

Through this collaboration, the council and the company maximize customer uptime and provide the highest quality customer service, Paccar Parts said Wednesday.

The members of the 2020 council are: Chairman – Michael Beeghly, The Peterbilt Store (Richmond, Va.); Ryan Saner, The Larson Group (Strafford, Mo.); Lee Anderson, Jackson Group Peterbilt (Salt Lake City, Utah); Derek Lanahan, Rush Peterbilt Truck Center (Oklahoma City, Okla.); Mike Warburton, Doonan Peterbilt (Great Bend, Kan.); Whitt Michael, Rush Enterprises (New Braunfels, Texas); Brandan Cobb, Hunter Peterbilt (Pittsburgh, Pa.); John Ball, The Peterbilt Store (Columbia, S.C.); Howie Poirier, Cervus Equipment Peterbilt (Stoney Creek, Ont.); and Brent Lawrence, Stahl Peterbilt (Edmonton, Alta.).

“Over the coming year, the council will focus on optimizing existing programs and services and finding new, innovative ways to maximize uptime for Peterbilt customers,” said Danny Landholm, Peterbilt national sales manager, Paccar Parts.



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4 ways to realize an ROI from truck upgrades


ATLANTA, Ga. – Every truck option comes at a cost, but with some careful planning those costs can transform into investments and deliver true financial returns.

Here are four ways to realize an ROI on truck-related investments, as shared during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC).

  1. Ask drivers to contribute to comfort-related upgrades

Creature comforts don’t tend to deliver a direct financial return, but there’s no denying that they play a role in recruiting and retention strategies. It’s why Hirschbach Motor Lines equips trucks with everything from high-speed internet to upgraded seats and premium mattresses.

Drivers pay for such upgrades, however, and the approach has helped to ensure they get the comfort-related features that they truly desire.

While the fleet had provided a satellite-based entertainment system, for example, 70% of the drivers admitted they would rather opt for internet service. A full 95% of those under 35 even see high-speed internet in the cab as a basic necessity.

“You can apply a small weekly fee,” said maintenance vice-president Nick Forte. “Most people are happy to pay $10 a week, $5 a week.”

The shift has even led to $940,000 in annual savings for the fleet. About $400,000 comes in reduced maintenance costs because there are no satellite dishes to damage when coupling trailers. Satellite subscription fees are gone.

Money has also been saved by ordering sleepers without mattresses, and letting drivers choose between a standard, premium or elite mattress if they cover the costs of the more expensive offerings. The fleet, meanwhile, uses its buying power to secure preferred pricing.

Before the strategy was introduced, the fleet discovered that the vast majority of mattresses installed by OEMs were thrown away within six months.

“Mattresses are an individual preference,” Forte explained. “They want the option to pick what they sleep on. Makes sense.”

“It’s well worth the investment – and in four months you have the cost of equipment covered,” he said, referring to the cost sharing.

  1. Collect quality data

“Getting a real return on investment from fleet monitoring is all about increasing your visibility,” said Joshua Phillips, customer success manager at Fleetio, a supplier supplier of fleet management software.

But some savings can be realized by automating and integrating the data stream, eliminating the man hours required to build reports.

It’s also important to focus on meaningful data, he added. “Do you have data paralysis? Is there too much data there that you couldn’t possibly do anything with it?”

“You get to make better decisions. You have all the data in front of you,” he said, offering the examples of big savings that can emerge when actions are based on score cards that identify high-risk drivers.

Still, anyone involved in the data collection tools need to know how to use them, Phillips said. He also stressed that it’s important not to overestimate a fleet’s competence with data when deciding what information should be gathered. “You can always grow and expand on this,” he said, “but being honest about it now is going to help you get that money back.”

  1. Tackle the idling, but keep drivers comfortable

Fleets can adopt several strategies that limit idling but also keep drivers comfortable, said Dave Schaller, industry engagement director at the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). And a 10% annual reduction in idle time equates to about a 1% boost in fuel economy.

The anti-idling controls involve more than engine parameters, he explained. The need can also be eased by spec’ing the highest-available level of cab insulation, a diesel-fired heater, light paint colors, and engine start/stop systems. A dark-colored sleeper, for example, takes 20% more energy to cool.

“It’s not just one thing. It’s how do multiple items come together for the best solution.”

Granted, the returns are not all realized when it comes to re-sell the truck.

“Not all these items are perceived in the resale market as having a strong resale value,” he said.

  1. Embrace advanced safety systems

It’s difficult to calculate the financial return on something that doesn’t happen. But that’s one of the factors that comes into play when choosing vehicle safety technologies that are meant to prevent collisions.

“New features are likely going to dramatically increase the return on investment,” said Kevin Grove, senior research associate at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, referring to features such as automatic emergency braking. Lane departure warnings and lane keeping assist systems can reduce the risk of collisions caused when trucks run off the road, too.

He’s also a fan of video-based monitoring.

“The video data can be used to train or prevent crashes of almost any type,” he said. “This is very dependent of what your fleet is doing with the data.”

About one in three crashes are lane departure events, each averaging about $5,300, said Ananda Pandy, technical specialist for ADAS systems and autonomy at ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

“The more effective the system is, the more the savings is.”



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SuperRigs competition to be held at Texas Motor Speedway


FORT WORTH, Texas – Shell Rotella SuperRigs will roll into Texas Motor Speedway June 4-6, as part of an IndyCar and Nascar Truck Series racing weekend.

The truck beauty contest will be held inside the track in front of thousands of racing fans, Shell announced.

Each registered contestant will receive a ticket for both races, and up to three additional tickets for family and friends. The Nascar truck race is Friday June 6 and the IndyCar race is Saturday, June 6. Both are night races.

More than US$25,000 in cash and prizes is up for grabs, as well as 12 slots in the 2021 Shell Rotella SuperRigs calendar. For more info, visit or follow Shell Rotella on social media.


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Communication, honesty keys to driving uptime


ATLANTA, Ga. – Working closely with your dealer and being honest about when repairs are actually needed are a couple ways fleets and service providers can work together to improve uptime.

That was one note from a Technology & Maintenance Council technical session on Shop Scheduling for Maximum Uptime: Fleet and Service Dealer Perspectives.

“If he doesn’t have to have it right now, he’ll let me know,” Scott Dixon, director of operations for Four Star Freightliner said, gesturing to co-panelist Benny Whitehead, president of Benny Whitehead Trucking. “That’s something you don’t see a lot of and it really helps the service provider out.”

But that same level of honestly is in turn required of dealers, added Tony Morthland, director of equipment and facilities for Nussbaum Transportation.

“If the service provider is honest and says three days, two days, whatever it is, it is,” he said, adding he has a bigger problem with providers who say the truck will be ready soon and don’t follow through. “We can’t plan anything. It’s really frustrating when people do that. We try to stay away from those dealerships if we can. We’ve got to work together, be honest, say whatever it is.”

Constant communication between the fleet and its servicing dealer is helpful in ensuring they understand each other’s needs.

“We do a call every Tuesday,” Dixon said of his relationship with Whitehead, noting Whitehead’s salesman and even an OEM representative are involved. “He gets to tell his issues directly to the factory. We also have a customer advocate in those meetings.”

Travis Dunn, general manager for Truck Centers in Troy, Ill., advised fleet maintenance managers to visit their local dealers and build relationships.

“Put a name to the face,” he suggested. “Just reach out, it’s all it takes. Know the team. We’re all going after the same goal – we want to get the customer rolling and we have to work together.”

Dunn said at times he’ll have a customer’s truck towed to another shop to get it on the road faster in the event of a backlog.

Service providers are increasingly focusing on workflow management to expedite repair times.

“We measure throughput from the time the repair order opens, to the last touch of the technician, every single week,” said Dixon. Four Star Freightliner has dedicated teams assigned to jobs that should take less than four hours, which has improved throughput, with more than 60% of repairs now finished within 24 hours.

But another challenge is keeping the shop adequately staffed. Whitehead’s own shop seeks out mechanically included prospects and puts them to work initially on smaller jobs.

“We treat them good and we pay them good,” he said of the company’s technicians.

Dixon added Four Star puts on Touch-a-Truck events to get young people interested and aware of the opportunities that exist.

“A lot of times we’re talking to parents to let them know about the opportunities technicians have these days for an extremely great income they didn’t know was available,” said Dixon, adding the dealership is currently building a technical school in its store to promote the trade and recruit talent.

“We have to grow our own,” agreed Morthland. “We have had to generate our own programs.”

A survey during the panel session revealed aftertreatment-related issues continue to be a leasing cause of downtime. Morthland said Nussbaum has had success reducing one-box (diesel particulate filter) failures by investing in a smoke testing machine that can detect leaks. The machine is used during every PM and has virtually eliminated one-box failures in the field.

The use of mobile mechanics is another way service providers have gotten more efficient.

“It definitely helps if we have a recall campaign and they have 30 or 40 trucks in one location,” said Dunn.

A poll during the discussion found 75% of respondents feel a strong preventive maintenance program is a key ingredient to keeping vehicles running. One audience member said his fleet has created a five-page PMI checklist.

“I came from a leasing company I worked 20 years for. Leasing companies have very strong PM systems and I’ve kept it that way in all the places I’ve been,” replied Morthland. “You can’t just set up a PM program and let it go 10 years. You have to look at it every year and make adjustments.”

Whitehead said longer oil drain intervals mean it’s easier to let trucks go too long between preventive maintenance inspections.

“Every one of our trucks, when it comes into the yard, goes to the shop and they’re checking tires, lights…we’ve seen tire problems on the road drastically go away. We run it through the wash system,” Whitehead said.

This strict attention to PM sometimes means in-house battles with other departments.

“Dispatch doesn’t want to give you the time to do a PM,” said Morthland. “You have to coach them and teach them to understand the truck needs to be down. It’s pay me now or pay me later. If it breaks down on the road, they’re the first ones to complain. You have to teach everybody in the company how important it is to do a PM and how long it takes to actually do it.”



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Panelists: Tweak the message to attract women




Leanne Quail, Shelley Uvanile-Hesch, Helen Thorpe and Lynn Northcott.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Showcasing the success stories of female truckers could help attract more women to the industry.

That is according to panelists at the Females in the Trucking Industry session Thursday at the TTSAO annual conference.

“Make sure you share your success story, and share how welcome that you feel,” said moderator Leanne Quail, operations manager at Paul Quail Transport.

“I think we’re doing a terrible job at that, I think that is why we don’t have (a lot of) women (drivers).” Quail added.

Safety and compliance specialist Helen Thorpe also believes spreading the word would help.

“Don’t just talk among ourselves. Go and talk to your other friends,” she told the women in the audience.

Just 3% of Canada’s truck drivers are women. And in the U.S., female representation is about 7%.

The panelists also said that the perception that women only want to be trained by women is wrong.

“No, no, no,” said Shelley Uvanile-Hesch, CEO of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada.

TTSAO“I can tell you most of the ladies that approach us do not care what the sex is of the trainer in the truck, or sex is of the trainer at the school,” she said.

“They want somebody that has knowledge, experience and patience,” Uvanile-Hesch said to applause from the audience.

She said there are ways to accommodate the needs of female trainees.

Uvanile-Hesch cited the example of a carrier whose male trainer sleeps in a hotel room and the female trainee sleeps on the truck.

“We fought long and hard to be treated as an equal in this industry, and you’re turning back the clock,” Uvanile-Hesch said.

Quail then asked the panelists whether women face any particular challenge as a trainer in a male dominated industry.

Lynn Northcott of Zavcor Training Academy said transitioning from a driver to an instructor itself was a challenge.

She said the challenge now is to become a mother to the trainees, bond with them and offer everything you know about driving.

The panelists agreed that there are common problems both male and female truckers face. The foremost among them, a severe shortage of parking spots.


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