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Accepting innovation in trucking

Feb. 18, 2014, Toronto – Technological innovations are changing the face of Canada's trucking industry, and will continue to do so as long as the industry is willing to embrace change.

At FPInnovations' Performance Innovations Transport conference in Toronto, experts from across North America and Europe presented information on the newest technologies that are impacting the industry and how they are being integrating into day-to-day operations.

The introduction of driver support systems, which has been adopted by all OEMs in the construction of new vehicles in some form, has provided real-time driver evaluation. Anders Johnson, who works at the SP Technical Research Institute in Sweden, spent 17 years working in research and development at Scania. Johnson explained that the Driver Support System introduced by Scania is targeted at improving driving performance by offering real-time support that can coach the drivers into making better decisions on the road. The Scania system evaluates the quality of the decision made pertaining to hill driving, anticipation, brake usage and choice of gears. The end result is that drivers find out in real-time if they are using best practices on the roads, while fleet managers collect data on the quality of the driving being done by each individual operator. But the system has to be active in order to be effective, a decision the driver must make at the start of daily operation.

The problem with new technologies, as explained by Wes Mays of Peterbilt Motors Company, is that it is difficult to get driver buy-in of some of the new innovations that are introduced.

Peterbilt developed a Driver State Monitor System, which monitors the alertness of drivers during the long haul. In the testing phase, Peterbilt found the system to be highly effective in making drivers aware when they were getting too sleepy to be behind the wheel by monitoring things like heart rate and blink rate. But the industry itself has not bought into the system, citing issues regarding distraction and a lack of overall desire to pay for the feature.

With the constant development of new technologies targeted at providing safer truck operation on our roads, it will be a wait-and-see approach to find out whether or not the industry will embrace the newest innovations.

February 19, 2014  By Andrew Macklin

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