THE LOCKWOOD REPORT
TECHNOLOGIES WORTH YOUR TIME
August 14, 2013 Vol. 9, No. 16
Drivers usually want to yell at me -- and sometimes they do -- when I write that I'm a fan of the latest safety technologies like roll-stability control. 'You don't have to take control away from me,' they always say, in one form or another. 'I can handle anything. I don't need this intrusion. It's an insult.'
Yeah, well, the best drivers might come close to being as capable as the electronic aids now on offer, but not close enough. There are too many examples of those 'best' drivers losing their lives precisely because they couldn't react as quickly as a few sensors could break torque and judiciously apply the brakes on exactly the right wheels at exactly the right moment to prevent a jackknife or a rollover or some other catastrophe.
And what about the rookies and the not-so-good drivers? Not to mention the tired or distracted ones.
Sorry, it's no contest in my mind.
The logic is simple: I think you're obliged to give yourself or your drivers every possible advantage. Especially now that the cost of such systems is more or less reasonable, though I think that cost becomes incidental in the face of the financial risk you face by not ticking those option boxes. It may actually be a matter of legal due diligence in some courtrooms.
Anyway, it warmed my cynical heart when I heard late last week that Con-way Truckload
was investing in three proven high-tech safety systems for all 525 of the new Freightliner
l, and Kenworth
tractors it's taking delivery of in 2013. At $2 million it's not a small investment. Then again, the cost of just one preventable accident could run an awful lot higher than that in the worst case.
To remind you, this Missouri-based outfit that operates across North America was formerly Contract Freighters, or CFI. It has some 2700 tractors and 8000 trailers on the road.
THE THREE SYSTEMS being installed on this year’s fleet deliveries are collision avoidance via forward-looking radar and adaptive cruise control; electronic stability control; and lane departure warning.
The combination of forward-looking radar and adaptive cruise control monitors the vehicle directly in front of the tractor and sounds an alarm when the truck closes to less than a three-second stopping distance of that other vehicle. If the driver doesn't respond, the system takes over and begins braking the truck independently. The Kenworth and Navistar tractors feature Bendix
Wingman collision mitigation technology, while the Freightliner tractors feature Meritor WABCO’s
The trucks are also getting the well known electronic stability control system by Bendix to help prevent rollover incidents.
|Con-way Truckload specs safety tools on all 525 new truck orders|
The lane departure warning system, developed by Takata
, alerts a driver if the truck begins veering unintentionally (without first engaging the turn signal) out of its lane. Depending on which direction the truck is heading, it makes a sound resembling that of a 'rumble strip' from the corresponding right- or left-side radio speaker.
In the company's words, the new systems "add sense-and-respond technologies in the cab that enhance driver skills. The systems provide early-warning alerts as well as proactive intervention that will enable significant reduction of the most common highway safety incidents in which trucks are involved," explained Saul Gonzalez, Con-way Truckload’s president.
“These systems will serve to supplement our drivers’ skills and good habits, and help us contribute to safer roadways for all who travel them.
“We always want to be sure we have the best technology and equipment to support our drivers in the performance of their jobs safely and effectively,” added Gonzalez.
Initial feedback on the new technologies has been positive, the company says. Drivers report that it not only helps them identify a potential situation in the moment, but also serves as a training tool. These new safety systems take ‘continuing education’ to a whole new level, they say.
Bravo, I say.
WANT NATURAL GAS IN A GLIDER KIT?
Well, step right on up to Ervin Equipment
and American Power Group
(APG). Ervin is set to launch 2014 Freightliner
Columbia and Coronado glider kits powered by a rebuilt Detroit Diesel Series 60 12.7L engine that's been upgraded with APG’s Turbocharged Natural Gas dual-fuel system. These engines run on a combination of diesel and natural gas.
An initial order for the glider kits, worth $800,000, was placed through WheelTime Network
member Clarke Power Services
as the lead authorized dealer. Clarke operates 27 full service shops in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi. No Canadian outlets are in the mix, it seems.
APG is also providing engines via WheelTime to Fitzgerald Truck Sales
, which assembles gliders with rebuilt Detroit
Series 60 12.7-liter engines, dual-fuel or otherwise, also using Freightliner Columbia and Coronado kits.
APG signed a national distributor and master marketing agreement with WheelTime Network late last year, which does have member companies across Canada. Do your own CNG/LNG glider?
In addition to tax and upfront cost benefits, a glider allows the truck owner to power the vehicle with an older EPA-approved engine -- legally. APG’s EPA dual-fuel tests show emissions improvements that include an 80% reduction in carbon monoxide (CO) and a 25 to 30% reduction in nitrous oxide (NOX) and particulate matter (PM) emissions compared to the base-year diesel engines.
THE APG DUAL-FUEL IDEA is an intriguing one, with or without the glider kit, as a fairly simple and relatively inexpensive retrofit to older engines. One of the keys to its attractiveness is the fact that you have the flexibility to transfer the system to another truck at the end of that vehicle's life. As well, the technology allows users to go back to 100% diesel operation at the switch of a button. That eliminates a big concern of fleet owners, namely being stuck with a dedicated natural gas fleet in the future if the price spread of diesel fuel and natural gas is no longer advantageous. People are right to be afraid of that one.
The APG system converts existing diesel engines into more environmentally friendly engines that can be run on diesel fuel combined with liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas, bio-methane, or even pipeline or well-head gas. The technology seamlessly displaces up to 80% of the normal diesel fuel consumption with the average displacement ranging from 40% to 65%. That fuel balance is maintained with a proprietary read-only electronic controller system ensuring that the engines operate at OEM-specified temperatures and pressures. Installation demands no engine modifications.