Northern Logistics
Northern Logistics tractor with Allison 3414 RHS transmission

A transmission from a ‘tried and true’ company meets this fleet’s needs

Feb. 29, 2024
FleetOwner 500 company Northern Logistics solves constant truck breakdowns and sluggish take-offs with the Allison 3414 Regional Haul Series transmission.

General freight carrier Northern Logistics’ trucks couldn’t meet the fleet’s powertrain needs. With consistent breakdowns and longevity problems from its over-the-road and day cab trucks, the Clare, Michigan-based fleet was on the hunt for a more “reliable” and “tried and true” transmission.  

Northern Logistics’ dealer partner, Westminster International, suggested the FleetOwner 500: For-Hire company order trucks with the Allison Transmission 3414 Regional Haul Series. 

Partaka recalled that Northern Logistics drivers who use an Allison transmission in their personal trucks had nothing but “good feedback,”  and Allison’s “known name” in the industry led him to give Allison a try. 

“I was like, ‘Why don't we try it? It can't hurt,’” Partaka told FleetOwner. “Honestly, with the trucks that we have now, if they're breaking down at the rate they are, why not go with something that has been tried and true?” 

Proving the Allison 3414 in the Northern Logistics fleet 

When the first truck equipped with the Allison 3414 showed up at the Northern Logistics facility, Partaka said it was a hit. “The first one was like, ‘Wow, it’s a lot different,’” Partaka said. 

Northern Logistics runs mostly International trucks and ordered six RH Series trucks with the Allison 3414 paired with a Cummins engine. The 3414 RHS transmission is Allison’s response to insights gathered from OEMs and end users. It was designed with the need for reliability, performance, and maneuverability but also with the need for increased ratings capability, according to an Allison Transmission press release.  

See also: Fleets begin 2024 in an equipment buying mood

The 3414 RHS will provide fleets with 25% faster acceleration as compared to competitive transmissions, according to an Allison press release. It also uses Allison’s xFE technology, incorporating an internal gear scheme optimized for fuel efficiency. Finally, it leverages Allison’s FuelSense 2.0 with DynActive shifting technology, which allows it to deliver up to 8% fuel economy improvement, according to the supplier. 

With what Allison advertises as up to 410 horsepower and 1,450 lbs.-ft. of torque in the 3414, Partaka said that if he were to drag race the Allison-equipped trucks against the others, the Allison “would definitely beat them.” 

When comparing the two transmissions side by side—the Allison versus the competitor transmission that Northern Logistics is looking to shift away from—Partaka said there isn’t much difference in average fuel mileage. However, he said, “I'll get bigger highs and lows with the [competitor transmission]; meaning, I'll get great fuel economy with one, and then the next one I will get not so great.” 

With the Allison, fuel mileage is similar “across the board,” with around 8 mpg in a fully loaded semi cruising on the highway as well as a less-than-truckload navigating city streets,” Partaka told FleetOwner.

What drivers say about the Allison 3414 

Northern Logistics drivers who have used the new trucks equipped with the Allison 3414 have good things to say about it, Partaka told FleetOwner. From his own experience and from drivers’ perspectives, the trucks run “super smooth” and have better take-off “off the line.”  

Partaka also hears from drivers that “it backs up so nice.” He explained there’s no lag between when the driver touches the throttle and when the truck moves.

The Allison 3414 also has different shift points compared to the competitor transmissions that Northern Logistics runs in its other trucks, and drivers say these shift points help them “get you out on the road and get you moving,” Partaka said.

In addition, drivers appreciate the fact that they don’t feel the shift points. “You can see it, but you don’t feel it in your seat. You don’t feel like you’re moving back and forth in the seat constantly,” Partaka said. 

Overall, none of the drivers complain about the company’s new transmission choice. 

“Everything's positive, and that's what we'd like to hear from our employees—positivity and nothing negative,” Partaka told FleetOwner. “We don't want to have to buy a truck and spend $160,000 for a driver to go 'I don't like that.’ ... When we bought those, they were like, ‘Wow, this thing's awesome!’”  

Northern Logistics currently has six Allison 3414-equipped trucks in its fleet of nearly 300 trucks. Since Northern Logistics received those six trucks, International has stopped offering Northern Logistics' preferred engine in the RH Series, much to Partaka's disappointment. If that changes in the future, however, Partaka said adding more Allison 3414-equipped trucks to the fleet would be a “no-brainer.” 

About the Author

Jade Brasher

Senior Editor Jade Brasher has covered vocational trucking and fleets for the past five years. A graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in journalism, Jade enjoys telling stories about the people behind the wheel and the intricate processes of the ever-evolving trucking industry.    

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