“ I started building these when I was 15 or 16 years old ... and I haven‘t stopped.” -Paul Agustin, implementation specialist with PeopleNet
Now, a ton of interesting things are coming out of the 6th annual PeopleNet Users Conference being held down here in Naples, FL - and you‘ll be reading about them in this space very soon, everything from the economic outlook for trucking, different tactics for improving fuel efficiency, plus why leveraging technology will be a much more vital strategy for fleets in order to save money and be more profitable in the future.
We‘ll get to all of that - but first you‘ve got to see the 14.5-inch scale model remote control truck Paul Agustin built.
(Paul Agustin at the controls of his motorized replica, as Tom Anderson of Brown Trucking looks on.)
A good three feet long and called the “Knight Hauler,” it sports a Freightliner Coronado-styled tractor and stainless steel trailer, with PeopleNet graphics applied separately. Servomotors in the cab allow Paul to “drive” it with ease, but that‘s not all it features.
Inside the cab are sound and motion control devices that realistically simulate the bark and shake when a diesel engine turns over, along with acceleration and deceleration noises, back up beeps, even an air horn. It‘s not cheap, either - all told, the tractor-trailer and graphics cost $1,500, with Paul putting in 65 hours of labor on his own time to put it together - including miniature DOT numbers he hasn‘t had time to put on yet.
“It comes to you unassembled in kit, with directions that are ... let‘s say ‘poor‘ in this case,” he explained to me. “You use just screws to put it together - no glue or soldering is required.”
Paul noted that the “Knight Hauler” could be purchased with a tanker, flatbed, reefer or dry van trailer (the one he selected), but he says “lowboy” trailer replicas cost way too much as far as he‘s concerned. “They cost $1,500 alone - as much as the whole tractor-trailer package itself,” he said.
Paul‘s been building these motorized replicas since his teenage years, and race cars to an 18-inch scale monster truck sit in his work room back home, among other vehicles. He saw the “Knight Hauler” package in the hobby shop one day and told Craig Dillon, PeopleNet‘s new chief technology officer, about it. Craig promptly went out and bought it, handing to straightaway to Paul with the simple words “build this.”
While everyone attending the conference obviously got a kick out of seeing this one-of-a-kind motorized replica tooling around the convention hall floor, several fleet managers viewed the vehicle with other thoughts in mind.
“It would be a great prize for one of drivers,” Jeff McKinney told me. “We hold a drawing every quarter for fewest days lost to workman‘s comp, and a truck like this painted in our colors would thrill our drivers, let me tell you.”