Trucks at Work

Of savings and safety

So I spent a couple of days with the good folks of Meritor and Meritor WABCO at a technical event they organized at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for 50 fleet customers dubbed the “Scientific Savings” Expo – ostensibly to show how a wide variety of products crafted by their respective companies can help fleets save money and boost safety, sometimes doing both all in one package.

[You can read more about those issues are influencing the strategic vision of both firms by clicking here. And if you want to see some of what Meritor and Meritor WABCO put on display at the particular event, click here.]

One of the more interesting discussions centered on research conducted by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) that examined how combining a wide array of different components and systems – such as 6x2 tandem tractor axles, trailer side skirts, automated transmission, etc. – can deliver some big fuel savings.

NACFE’s Mike Roeth provides an overview of the group’s research in this area below:

Incidentally, Roeth told me that NACFE plans to release a report in July or August this year detailing the potential advantages and drawbacks of using a 6x2 rear tandem tractor axle configuration versus the traditional 6x4 configuration – especially whether the 300 to 400 pound weight savings and 2% to 4% fuel economy boost of a 6x2 model offsets potentially less traction and higher tire wear over the vehicle’s life cycle.

“We’re using 12 robust data sets for this analysis, with 8 of them conducted by fleets,” Roeth told me. “We see it as a real opportunity to determine what the ‘net gain’ for a fleet could be if they shift to the 6x2 tractor axle configuration that’s predominantly used in Europe.”

Yet safety is never far from any fleet’s mind these days and must take a front row seat when spec’ing changes such as switching to a 6x2 axle configuration are contemplated.

And it’s also why Meritor WABCO showed off the capability of its anti-rollover and stability control technologies at the Expo – reiterating to fleets that today’s technology can often react faster and with more deft precision to prevent a crash than a human can, especially in “panic maneuver” situations:

Technology of course never works 100% flawlessly to infinity in the real world, but it’s sure nice to have such “stability insurance” where you’re navigating big rigs along our ever faster yet more congested roadways.

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