Sean Kilcarr

Sean
Kilcarr
Executive 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
Optimizing trucking through more real-time information

PHILADELPHIA. Helping the trucking industry better manage the “real life experiences” affecting its operations in the here and now is going to be a near-term driving force for technological development, according to Dan Popkin, senior vice president of enterprise solutions for ALK Technologies, which is a subsidiary of Trimble.

Mack predicts Class 8 market will stay strong

CHARLESTON, SC. While Mack Trucks expects total Class 8 production volume will reach 215,000 units for 2017 – mirroring projections by other industry analysts – the OEM also believes that “underlying demand” for heavy trucks is stronger than many think, meaning that the market should exit 2017 stronger than when it entered the year, with manufacturers ramping up to build more equipment as time goes on.

Truck parking and traffic congestion intertwined

While a new report issued this week by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) highlighted how rising traffic congestion in the U.S. is becoming a more expensive problem for the trucking industry, it is a problem also being aggravated in part by the ongoing shortage of truck parking across the country as well.

Mack highlights heavy haul

At a special event in Charleston, S.C., Mack Trucks put the spotlight on the heavy haul side of its business, showing off a brand new 2018 model Granite in daycab tractor configuration being delivered to Tracy’s Logging of Steadman, S.C., along with a 2014 model Pinnacle axle forward sleeper tractor operated by Superior Transportation of Charleston, S.C.

Travels with Mister Metris

Recently, Fleet Owner got a chance to take a Mercedes Benz 2017 model Metris passenger van on an extended week-long test drive, covering a total of 945.8 miles on a long, looping journey across seven states: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Of particular interest: how the safety technology offered on the Metris, such as blind spot assist, improved the driving experience. (Photos: Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)

A record-setting 2,000-hp SUV

It’s not every day one encounters a sport utility vehicle (SUV) equipped with a 2,000-hp powertrain. But that’s what powers the one-of-a-kind Land Speed Cruiser; a custom creation introduced by Toyota last year at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas as a tip-of-the-hat to the OEM’s four-wheel-drive Land Cruiser SUV platform originally introduced over 60 years ago. And this unique SUV also just set a new land speed record for SUVs as well in the bargain, too.

Stepping into simulator training

Both the commercial trucking industry and the U.S. military are stepping up their use of simulator systems to beef up training programs for a variety of driver-related duties. In trucking, simulators help sharpen specific skills needed for handling foul-weather conditions, such as snow, as well as backing-up maneuvers. In the military, drivers and their crews use full-scale simulators not only to improve their vehicle handling abilities but sharpen their combat skills as well.

Maintenance Bay: Beating back corrosion

President: Dave Letts
Company: Transport Finishes Inc.
Operation: A sandblasting, body work, fiberglass repair, and paint shop for heavy-duty trucks and trailers located in East Hazel Crest, IL

PROBLEM:

When it comes to refurbishing trailers, Dave Letts says that corrosion problems strike the same areas over and over again largely due to the operating conditions every trucking company must deal with.

Parsing the truck parking problem

Mobile app developer TruckerPath recently surveyed 3,330 truck drivers who are members of its online community and also analyzed some 5.5 million crowdsourced data points provided by its members to get detailed insights into the truck parking shortage affecting many areas of the U.S.; particularly western states, according to its data. That information is now available in a new report from TruckerPath, available by emailing partners@truckerpath.com.

Alt Fuels: Alive and well 

Despite what Jim Castelaz, CEO and founder of Motiv Power Systems, describes as a catch-22 created by the volatility of diesel fuel prices—“When diesel prices are high, fleets say they can’t afford to invest in new propulsion technology; but when they are low, they say they don’t need to invest in such technology”—he is finding more of them starting to take a “long-term strategic view” where alternative propulsion is concerned.

Is our future autonomous? 

Let me just start by saying that to be writing this column is quite an honor for me. It also goes without saying that I am following in the footsteps of greatness here—and that’s no understatement for anyone who’s known Jim Mele, my boss and mentor, these last 17 years.

More productivity from in-house maintenance

A recent survey conducted by CK Commercial Vehicle Research (CKCVR), dubbed the Fleet Productivity Gains and Losses study by the firm, indicated that trucking fleets can gain higher productivity by bringing more vehicle maintenance work in-house – something well-known in the U.S. military, where most maintenance is conducted in-house. CKCVR’s study polled 57 fleets that operate more than 47,000 medium and heavy duty trucks (primarily Class 8 tractors) that accrue in excess of 4.5 billion miles annually.

Q&A: Weather-based telematics and trucking

Any fleet knows that bad weather can torpedo delivery times while putting cargo, equipment, and the lives of truck drivers at risk. That’s why there’s been a push in recent years to plug real-time weather information into trucking telematics so routes can be adjusted in case heavy rain, blizzards, and other inclement conditions make certain roadways too dangerous to traverse.

Maintenance training for U.S. Army mechanics

One of the reasons U.S. military mechanics are highly-prized by the trucking industry – and, yes, they are still called “mechanics” in the service – is that they receive extensive training, especially for “wheeled-vehicles” such as trucks and automobiles. The U.S. Army recently gave a peek inside its Wheeled Vehicle Mechanics Course at Fort McCoy, WI, which certifies personnel for a wide variety of maintenance duties.

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