John G. Smith is the editor of Today’s Trucking. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995, when he was named the editor of our sister publication Truck News. Since then he has been a contributing editor to industry publications across North America, served as a frequent speaker on industry topics, and been honored for his coverage of business and technical matters alike.
There is a certain pride that every owner-operator should enjoy. Mastering skills at the wheel is just the beginning of their professional journey. Our trucking industry’s hybrid of driver and entrepreneur is expected to master trucks and business ledgers alike. Sadly, far too many fail because of a lack of focus on the latter point.
First, a confession. I am a terrible passenger. My right foot is always pumping against the floor mat whenever I find myself riding shotgun. A knot forms in my stomach when someone takes anything other than my favorite route. When the Today’s Trucking team carpooled to a trade show earlier this year, I was quick to reach for the keys before anyone else had the chance.
A house is not a home — and in the eyes of the taxman it appears your sleeper is no longer a house on wheels. How else can we explain the end of Federal Excise Tax (FET) exemptions that have long been applied to the diesel that pumps through Auxiliary Power Units and bunk heaters? The heating oil used to warm a house is exempt. Add a few working axles underneath that house and it’s a different story.
EDMONTON, AB – Everything sells. It’s a firm rule at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, and there is plenty on hand for the highest bidder. About 10,600 pieces of equipment will move through the company’s sprawling Edmonton complex this week, easily setting a sales record and eclipsing last April’s numbers by about 35%. Trucks dominated most of the sales on Tuesday, when close to 10,000 bidders had already registered for a piece of the action. Equipment such as cranes, rock catchers, and trailers will follow.
LOUISVILLE, KY — We’re approaching an era when trucks act more like trusted co-drivers than equipment alone. Optional Collision Warning Systems and Lane Departure Systems use things like radar and cameras to watch the road and sound the alarm if a driver fails to notice a hazard or drifts into danger. Collision Mitigation Systems – or adaptive cruise controls — go a step further and actually begin to slow a vehicle before a driver reacts. And the technologies all come together in prototypes for “semi-autonomous” and “platooning” vehicles that promise at times to drive themselves.
“The vision is about providing that 360-degree cocoon around the truck, to enable the truck and the driver to operate as safely as they can,” says WABCO Americas president Jon Morrison.
Ian Wright co-founded Tesla Motors and developed the fastest street-legal electric car in the world. But these days he has set his sights on something bigger – an electric powertrain for commercial vehicles.
Wrightspeed’s range-extended electric powertrain known as the Route enters production in a matter of months, and the company CEO boldly predicts that electric waste trucks will overtake the sale of diesel models in as little as five years.
There have been other attempts to electrify trucks in the past. One thing that sets the Route apart, however, is its Fulcrum turbine.
Ear worms are funny things. You know them. They’re the songs that invade your thoughts. The one ringing through my head right now is crooned by none other than Kermit the Frog. Yep. The Muppet. The one who taught us, “It’s not easy being green, having to spend each day the color of the leaves.” If you want to know how tough it is to be green, look no further than the environmental rules and regulations affecting today’s trucking industry.
Metro Truck Group seems surprisingly reluctant to tell its story. When a meeting is finally scheduled, senior managers spend much of their time explaining that they don’t normally do this sort of thing. The Freightliner dealership group based in Ontario’s Niagara Region rarely participates in interviews. When its Brantford dealership moved into a new building this winter, it even did so without the fanfare of a grand opening. No ribbons were cut. No speeches made. But there is no escaping the spotlight of a reality show.
When it comes to vehicle safety, a lot of attention is being focused on the one truck component that actually touches the road. The Rubber Manufacturers Association proclaims the first week of June as Tire Safety Week. Days after this concludes, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance begins a special focus on tires as part of the annual Roadcheck inspection blitz.
Recruiters in Canada’s trucking industry appear to be overlooking massive labor pools, and a recent report from Trucking HR Canada is making the business case to connect with several under-represented demographic groups. “We just want the industry to be aware of the demographics; that these are the labor pools we need to tap into,” says CEO Angela Splinter, whose trucking-focused organization promotes best practices in human resources.
A Class 1/A licence falls well short of proving that someone is ready to work as a truck driver. Ask any industry recruiter. Hang around a busy loading dock long enough, and you’ll likely have the chance to pick up a few extra dollars from frustrated newbies, all eager to hand the keys to someone who can actually reverse into tight spaces. This is especially true for people who, with a minimal amount of training, managed to learn just enough to earn the licence itself.
I’m experiencing a new day and new job at Today’s Trucking, but there is no escaping the sense of déjà vu. Yes, I still lean on my GPS to find the office, and I think it will be several months before I remember the phone number, but something feels oddly familiar. Too familiar.
Gene Orlick’s tenure as chairman of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) can still reasonably be counted in days. The owner of Alberta-based Orlicks Inc. assumed the role just last week, during the alliance’s spring board meeting in Arizona. But his mandate already includes one issue that will define the nation’s largest trucking organization for years to come. Who will replace David Bradley?