Photo: DTNA
Western Star Test Outside

Western Star teases 'toughest' truck yet

Sept. 2, 2020
The industry will have to wait until the end of September for the full reveal, but Daimler Trucks North America shared details on how the company prepared its next vocational super star for vocational duty.

Daimler Trucks North America claims its next Western Star vocational truck, scheduled for a big reveal on Sept. 29, “will have the undisputed honor of being the most tested truck in Western Star’s history.” Due to the gamut of “grueling testing” administered by the Product Validation Engineering team, this model is also expected to be “the toughest Western Star yet,” DTNA said.

The first Western Star trucks were manufactured in British Columbia more than 50 years ago and deployed in the vast Canadian wilderness for logging, mining and oil transport. Current testing uses machines to recreate that rugged environment and design a truck that can withstand those rigors.

“Vocational customers work in the most challenging environments in the world; places where durability and uptime are crucial,” said David Carson, senior vice president, Vocational segment, DTNA. “We have put the next Western Star through its paces to ensure this truck surpasses their expectations. We have a hard-earned reputation for dependability, for reliability, and for toughness that our customers know they can count on when they get to the job site and on the journey there. And we have delivered for them.”

The cab and chassis components’ composure were validated on shaker tables at the Portland, Ore.-based structure lab. The effects of the violent vibrations along the X and Y-axes over two months on the table simulated what a truck would incur over a million miles on the road. The early insights from this testing led to higher internal standards of durability.

Engineers used a bed plate test to simulate extreme maneuvers under different load conditions, and a frame twist test, which went through 10,000 cycles, to ensure the truck could endure the extreme demands of the vocational job site.

Crush and pendulum tests were also conducted to validate just how much punishment the cab and its roof could withstand. This allowed the team to implement a lighter design that will be stronger than previous Western Star models. Cab impact testing also provided the actionable data to design a cab that would better protect the driver.

DTNA also took the mysterious new model to its 3.5 mile High Desert Proving Grounds test loop in Madras, Ore., on the other side of Mt. Hood and a few hours to the southeast. This area 2,390 feet above sea level absorbs some of the harshest weather the Pacific Northwest can conjure, from snow to rain to heat. DTNA expanded the site to 87 acres and invested $18.7 million in 2017. The full service life of the truck was compressed to seven months of testing and the track’s faithful recreation of those rough Canadian roads proved to the company that this Western Star was ready for duty.

About the Author

John Hitch | Editor

John Hitch, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is the editor of Fleet Maintenance, a B2B magazine that addresses the service needs for all commercial vehicle makes and models (Classes 1-8), ranging from shop management strategies to the latest tools to enhance uptime.

He previously wrote about equipment and fleet operations and management for FleetOwner, and prior to that, manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician aboard a nuclear-powered submarine.

For tips, questions or comments, email [email protected].

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