The spring show season is upon us. I know of at least eight events NACFE staffers will attend between now and May. And I am sure there are more events that we could attend but just do not have the staff to do so.
I always hear that attending trade shows, conventions, and meetings takes people away from their “real jobs.” I’d ask you to rethink your logic. I believe they are great places for all of us to hear new ideas, view new products, and perhaps most importantly, get to talk to other people in the industry. Most shows have speakers and panels but also allow time for networking, which is where I think the real exchange of knowledge happens.
One of NACFE’s early collaboration reports, Barriers To The Increased Adoption Of Fuel Efficiency Technologies in the North American On-Road Freight Sector, talked about how important having credible information is when making technology investments. We did this work along with ICCT, and you can understand why we typically call it the Barriers Report. The full name of the report is a mouthful, and I’d like to think we’ve gotten better about naming our reports since this one came out in 2013.
While I believe there are more ways for people to get information today than there were back in 2013, I think fleets have concerns about the quality of the information they can get their hands on today. Trade shows, conventions, and other industry gatherings are a great way to get information from those who have already invested in a particular technology and are willing to share what they learned—the good and the bad—after deploying that technology in their everyday operations.
These events also allow you to talk to the people making the technologies and get your questions answered about how your fleet could benefit from the technology or why it might not be suitable for you now.
Our Barriers report found: “Verifying performance in the early stages of technology deployment is challenging.” I think that statement is still valid today as we navigate through the Messy Middle with many powertrain options and a plethora of new manufacturers in the trucking space. I think chatting with folks who are using technology can help verify performance.
I know it is not possible to attend every trucking-related event, but I hope you will find time this spring to attend at least one and send some of your staff as well. We can all learn from each other, and the more voices we hear, the better understanding we will have about the real-world performance of a technology. And trucking is all about real-world results.
I will be at my share of events this spring, and NACFE will have a booth at many of them. Stop by our booth or connect with me or a member of the NACFE staff over a cup of coffee or a cocktail. We always love to hear from fleets and those supporting them. We are always happy to share what we’ve learned from working on our reports and talking to folks who ensure goods move as efficiently as possible daily.
Finally, I challenge you to think differently about these events. In many ways, this is very much part of our “real jobs.”
Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.