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  Freightliner, LW BB,  2013/05-06
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, International, 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 OnGuard system.
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Con-way Truckload specs safety tools on all 525 new truck orders
 The trucks are also getting the well known electronic stability control system by Bendix to help prevent rollover incidents. 

 
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.
Want natural gas on an older Series 60? You can have it.
 APG recently received notification from the EPA that its dual-fuel technology has been approved for several Detroit, Volvo, and Mack 'Outside Useful Life' (OUL) engines. Specifically, 1987 to 2002-model Detroit Diesel Series 60 11.1 to 14-liter engines; Volvo D11, D12, D13, and D16 engines; and Mack E7, MP7, MP8, and MP10 10.8 to 16.1-liter engines. Both Mack and Volvo approvals cover model years 2002 through 2009.
 
To qualify for the EPA's Outside Useful Life definition, by the way, the truck must have run a minimum of either 435,000 miles (700,000 km) or 22,000 hours.
 
Depending on the age and mileage of the engine to be converted, APG performs either an on-road emissions test to meet the OUL requirements or tests on an engine dynamometer for the more difficult Intermediate Useful Life (IUL) requirements. An EPA engine-family approval allows APG to commercialize that specific engine model conversion in the market without further emissions testing.  
 
APG says it will soon begin emissions testing on the top three to four 2010-12  SCR engines which will open up the balance of the addressable class-8 truck market. It's in a position to offer natural gas conversions for just about the entire North American industry, given current OUL and future IUL approvals for Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Mack, Mercedes Benz, and Volvo engines.
 
Now, ain't that interesting?
 
APG ISN'T THE ONLY OUTFIT doing such conversions, I should add. While I haven't done an exhaustive search for competitors, another is EcoDual, Inc. of South Carolina. Like APG, it specializes in dual-fuel natural gas systems for heavy-duty  trucks. Its MAX/SR system creates a diesel that operates on about 50-60% natural gas and is said to be easily installed at your own facility. The company claims it will pay for itself in 12 to 18 months of typical usage.
 
The system is approved by the EPA for conversion of trucks with 2004 to 2009 Cummins ISX and ISM engines, with more certifications coming. 
 
The cost of the standard system, single tank included, is in the $30,000 range plus installation. 
 
What about the original engine-maker's warranty, if that still applies? As I understand things, that will go south on you if you're not careful.
 
According to EcoDual, dual-fuel systems violate OEM warranties if there's a change to any emissions equipment; if the engine's basic mechanicals are modified; if there's any change to or control taken of the OEM’s ECU; or if the new system allows the engine to work outside of its original parameters. 
 
Its last bit of advice? Run away if a manufacture promises higher horsepower or better fuel economy.
 
THE SHOWS AND CONFERENCES start with the Technology & Maintenance Council 2013 Fall Meeting and National Technician Skills Competition. That's September 9-12 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. See http://tmc.trucking.org or call 703-838-1763.
 
This event is not for the trucking public, but body builders and others associated with the work truck industry might want to make plans to attend the New Model Truck Product Conference put on by the NTEA (National Truck Equipment Association). To be held on Sept. 10-12, 2013 at the Adoba Hotel Dearborn (formerly the Hyatt Dearborn) in Dearborn, MI, it's the event where chassis manufacturers present critical information about product upgrades and new product launches for the upcoming model year and beyond. The products are also on display for members to examine and inspect. See www.ntea.com. Call 1-800-441-6832 or email info@ntea.com.
 
And you can register now to attend HTUF’s National Meeting October 7-9 in downtown Chicago at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. It's a gathering for fleets, truck and bus OEMs, and suppliers working to accelerate the commercialization of high-efficiency trucks, meaning hybrids and electrics. As usual, a key feature will be the Ride & Drive at Soldier Field, but this time you'll see an MPG driving challenge, awards, and more. The event will also include the Trucking Efficiency Summit by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). See www.htuf.org or contact Kimberly Taylor at ktaylor@calstart.org or 626-744-5600.
 
THIS NEWSLETTER IS PUBLISHED every two weeks. For the most part it's a heads-up notice about what's going on with trucking technology. I also write here about interesting products that may not have had the 'air play' they deserved within the last few months, and maybe about issues that warrant attention in my occasionally humble opinion. 
 
I should remind you that I don’t endorse any of the products I write about in this e-newsletter, nor do I have the resources to test them except on rare occasions. What you’re getting is reasonably well educated opinion based on more than three decades in trucking. 
 
If you have comments of whatever sort about The Lockwood Report, or maybe you've tried a gizmo I should know about, please contact me at rolf@newcom.ca
 

 

 
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