3 New Pieces of Technology Improving the Transport Industry
To the outside observer, it may seem as though trucking has stayed pretty much the same for the past number of decades—but nothing could be further from the truth! While we may be slow to adopt new technology, it’s only because our industry is so focused on reliability and dependability that we want to be absolutely sure that new tools will work before bringing them on board. After all, what could be worse than making a massive overhaul only to find the new equipment to be a step backwards from the old?
Luckily, that hasn’t been the case for most of the latest technological improvements. In the last decade or so, the trucking industry has seen several innovations that have completely changed our industry with the ways that goods move around the country. Here are three examples:
Satellites have become the norm in the transportation industry, which is great news, because they’re terrific tools for just about everyone involved—customers, drivers, dispatchers and maintenance teams alike. Satellites act as overall monitoring systems, keeping track of a truck’s performance as well as the driver’s. They also provide GPS tracking and electronic logs of a vehicle’s activity. This can simplify both the driver’s job and that of his or her dispatcher. Satellite technology makes it easier to provide customers with the most up-to-date information possible about shipment ETAs.
- Starter Capacitors
Starter capacitors are great devices that were actually developed for military use. They were installed in tanks and other applications that needed to be able to stop and start often. They are now being introduced into the commercial market. Starter capacitors (or starter modules) replace one of the batteries and are used to power the engine’s starter. Unlike absorbed glass mat batteries (AGMs), which are designed to discharge current slowly and gradually, starter capacitors deliver high current over short periods.
Together with AGM batteries, they help power all aspects of the truck, making them a much better solution than lead-acid batteries (whose life, unlike starter modules, decays over time). Starter capacitors’ performance is also not affected by the cold, so they are as quick and effective at minus-40 degrees as they are at 140 degrees. We had great results when we tested them in a control group of trucks, so we’re beginning to roll them out across the fleet. We’ve started with our long-haul TL sleeper trucks. Since these trucks are not based in a maintenance facility, preventing no-starts is especially important.
- Diesel-Particulate Filters (DPFs)
Acceptable emissions levels have become more and more stringent over the past 15 years. This has led to a host of engine innovations to reduce exhaust of diesel-particulate, including DPFs. DPFs have been standard on trucks since 2007. These filters capture particles that are left after incomplete combustion, so that they can then be incinerated to reduce the amount of waste. This is especially important in trucks that frequently start and stop, because they spend less time with the engine operating at high efficiency.
The temperature in the DPF needs to reach near 1,200°F and maintain that temperature for around 20-30 minutes. A truck that starts and stops consistently doesn’t have a chance to reach this temperature and maintain it. Therefore during this type of operation it may be necessary to do a “parked regeneration.” This involves running the engine at high idle in regeneration mode, basically raising the temperature in the DPF to near 1,200°F to clean the filter and destroy remaining exhaust particulates and debris.
This is just a small sample of the new technology that modern truck drivers and owners have at their disposal. It goes to show that even long-established industries as deeply steeped in tradition as trucking appreciate the value of new tools and technology.
Referenceshttp://www.truckinginfo.com/blog/on-the-road/story/2013/06/building-a-better-electric-mousetrap.aspx http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/drivers/article/story/2013/06/say-goodbye-to-booster-cables.aspx http://fleetowner.com/regulations/long-journey-clean-truck-0201
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