Hardware Report: Seats

Jan. 5, 2017
A more comfortable ride leads to improved driver health, retention

“Truck seats have definitely developed for the better and provide more comfort and better ride performance,” says Ronald Mock, director of aftermarket division-North America at Sears Seating. “Seats can lower a driver’s exposure to whole body vibration (WBV), resulting in reduced fatigue, more precise visual acuity, improved awareness, faster response times, and improved driver health. In the future, truck seats must keep evolving to be a valuable driver recruitment tool and also for driver retention.”

According to Mock, the Sears Atlas II truck seat transmits 57% less vibration to the operator on the vertical acceleration axis and 20% less total WBV over that of competitive seats. The seat features foam contours and enhanced foam for greater comfort along with a back frame contoured to the natural shape of the spine and quad chamber air lumbar dual bags for each side of the spine to help reduce fatigue.

“We conducted a study with three TCA member fleets to understand the impact of reducing exposure to shaking and jarring on driver fatigue and pain,” relates Jim Parison, distinguished engineer at Bose Corp. “Almost half of the drivers reported fatigue and back pain serious enough to interfere with their work.

“After using the Bose Ride system, nearly all reported the problem was eliminated,” Parison states. “The drivers also told us they felt safer, needed fewer non-mandatory breaks, had a more rapid recovery from being on the road, increased energy to do things in their off-time, and had a greater willingness to recommend their fleet to other drivers.”

The Bose Ride system II uses electromagnetic, power amplification, and motion control technologies to protect drivers from vibration. The system, available from Bose and through Volvo and Freightliner dealers, employs sensors that detect motion in the cab floor thousands of times per second, proprietary algorithms to calculate the optimal response, and an electromagnetic motor to make continuous adjustments to the seat to counteract unwanted motion. Three ride settings address a range of applications and allow drivers to tailor the ride throughout the day to personal preferences and driving conditions.

Seats for truck cabs manufactured by Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG)include National Seating and Bostrom Seating brands. According to the manufacturer, the suspension seats reduce vibration experienced by the driver and improve posture, which is a key element in preventing fatigue and reducing common injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders.

Lumbar adjustment is also important to accommodate drivers of all shapes and sizes, the company adds, so its seats have dual or triple chamber lumbar support and cushion tilt and extensions to allow drivers to adjust the seats for an optimal driving position.

Bostrom brand seats utilize Serta Cool-Action Gel memory foam to provide temperature regulation and keep the seating surface cool. In addition, many seats in both CVG brands are offered with the company’s BackCycler, a feature that keeps the muscles in the lower back region moving to keep blood flowing and reduce fatigue. Select models are available with optional heaters or ventilation fans for cooling.

The  Legacy and Heritage Series seats from Seats Inc.  are offered in high- and mid-back designs and can be fitted with longer armrests that are adjustable, and swivel and heat and massage systems. Depending on the model, seats are available with  a  Smart Seat memory valve suspension system, dual air lumbar chambers, and a fully reclining backrest.

“Many drivers consider back pain and fatigue part of the job, but seats that take away vibration have measurable value, not only in ride quality for drivers but also for fleets,” Parison says. “The impact of pain and fatigue on driver productivity can be quantified in absentee rates, workers’ compensation claims and accidents, and the payback can be measured in recruiting and retention, which is incredibly expensive.”  

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