Sean Kilcarr

Sean
Kilcarr
Senior Editor

Sean reports and comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry -- light and medium duty fleets up through over-the-road truckload, less-than-truckload, and private fleet operations Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

Articles
A look inside GM's Fort Wayne truck plant

GM's Fort Wayne assembly plant in Ft. Wayne, IN, began building light-duty trucks in 1986. Today, it is a three-shift operation with approximately 3,800 employees focused on manufacturing light- and heavy-duty regular plus double cab full-size pickup trucks. The OEM recently announced it's investing $1.2 billion into its Fort Wayne facility; part of a three-year $5.4 billion investment effort in all of its U.S. plants. All photos courtesy of GM.

Duty, honor, drive

Randy Twine of Clarksville, TN, is about to complete his tour as the 2014 Schneider Ride of Pride driver; piloting the seventh big rig in Schneider's fleet especially designed by Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) to honor military veterans from all branches of the U.S. armed forces, including the reserves.

More technology may help thwart cargo theft

With cargo theft projected to increase this year, many believe more technological resources – especially the ability to frame location against theft data – need to be deployed by motor carriers to help lower their risk profile.

Visiting Navistar's New Carlisle Proving Grounds

Navistar recently acquired its 675 acre New Carlisle Proving Grounds facility from Robert Bosch GmbH. Originally established by the Studebaker Corp. in 1926 and sold off to Bendix in 1963 when Studebaker closed its doors (Bosch bought it in 1996), Navistar plans to test its full line of products at its New Carlisle, IN-based proving grounds center, including Class 5 through 8 commercial trucks, school buses, and military vehicles.

Driver shortage remains sore spot across trucking spectrum

The chronic shortage of drivers is now affecting all segments of the trucking industry, from drayage to regional and long-haul operations, and shows no signs of abating near term – spawning a range of efforts to attract and keep workers willing to pilot commercial vehicles for a living.

Navistar acquires proving grounds facility

NEW CARLISLE, IN. Navistar Inc. is establishing its own 668-acre proving grounds here along the farmlands of northern Indiana at a site purchased from Robert Bosch LLC; a facility that includes a three-mile paved and banked oval track where the OEM will test its entire portfolio of Class 5 through 8 commercial trucks, school buses and military vehicles.

Test driving the new CT680

Caterpillar introduced the third model in its CT line of vocational trucks - the set-forward-axle CT680 - during a special ride and drive event at its Tinaja Hills, AZ, proving grounds. Though only two tractor configurations of the new CT680 were available for testing - the gray one equipped with an 18-speed manual and a red one spec'd with Caterpillar's CX31 automatic transmission - company executives stressed that the Class 8 CT680 is also available as a straight truck chassis model, too.

Caterpillar unveils new CT680 model 1

TINAJA HILLS, AZ. Caterpillar introduced the third model of its CT vocational truck line – the CT680 – here at its training and proving grounds just outside of Tucson, AZ; a 124-in. BBC vehicle that will be available in both truck and tractor configuration when it goes into full production this July.

Truck stops tapping the personal touch 

In a way, Aaron McCann serves as the face of new tactic in the battle among truck stop chains for customer business: the personal touch.

Armed with nothing more than an orange vest and a thousand-watt smile, McCann’s primary job as a “diesel service champion” or DSC at the Flying J Travel Center off I-78 in Frystown, PA, entails directing commercial vehicles to open fueling slots or the shortest line for them at the facility’s 11 lane diesel refueling island.

Stopping in at Flying J

The Flying J truck stop located in Frystown, PA, just off I-78 - off the unlikely-named Camp Swatara Road - sports a 12,771 sq. ft. facility featuring all the amenities truck drivers and fleets alike might need (including its self-proclaimed "best coffee on the interstate") as part of a 56.27 acre spread that includes an IdleAir facility and Boss truck repair shop.

U.S. fuel prices stay in high gear

Diesel and gasoline prices across the U.S. continued to increase this week, according to data tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), though they remain far lower compared to the same period in 2014.

The EIA said the average U.S. retail pump price for diesel jumped 2.4 cents this week to $2.878 per gallon, though that is $1.070 per gallon cheaper compared to the same week in 2014.

Diesel prices increased in every region of the country, breaking the $3 per gallon mark in five areas:

Data indicates trucking should stay strong thru summer

Recent data analysis indicates that the trucking industry remains inherently strong, despite some near-term slippage, and should continue to hold the upper hand in the freight market through the summer.

"Conditions for truckers and fleets remain quite positive,” noted Jonathan Starks, director of transportation analysis for research firm FTR Transportation Intelligence, in a statement.

Lessons learned 

Manager: T.J. Thomas

Title: Director of marketing & customer solutions

Company: Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems  

Operation: Test fleet of 30 power units and 30 pieces of towable equipment from dollies to flatbeds, dry vans and tanker trailers

Problem:

Back to bicycles 

It’s more than a little interesting to hear that the trusty bicycle—designs for which may date as far back as 1493—is coming back in vogue as a means of both daily passenger and freight transit.

Healthy drivers: A holistic approach 

The way the business world views the issue of “employee wellness” is changing radically these days, especially where the trucking industry is concerned. Rose Stanley, senior practice leader for the nonprofit human resources association WorldAtWork, explains that it is becoming a much broader issue than the traditional focus on the physical health of workers.

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