“DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP”: We have all heard this saying, and this past fall, I had the opportunity to tour the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. In one of the buildings, those five words are written using 3-foot-tall letters. In the trucking industry, our ships are our trucks. Many times, we want to give up on these newer trucks because of EGR-DPF and DEF. We know these systems are problematic and the failure rate is ridiculous. The engineering staff at Pittsburgh Power was recently given a challenge and that was to find a way to improve on the response, power, drivability, and emissions on the 2010 and newer ISX Cummins engine equipped with EGR-DPF and DEF. They took the challenge and not only succeeded, but also did one better: they came up with a maintenance program for the emissions systems on the Cummins and Detroit engines that just may very well eliminate most of the related problems. Time will tell on this one, and it won’t take long. We’ll know by the time summer rolls around if many of the problems decrease with the EGR-DPF-DEF systems on today’s trucks. Remember, “Don’t Give Up the Ship”. My belief is that we stay with the variable geometry turbochargers and develop better means of combustion along with air and exhaust flow. The trailer is 65% or more of the drag and a great loss of fuel mileage, going from a 96” wide van trailer to a 102” wide decreased fuel mileage by ½ mpg. The trucking industry has a bad habit of increasing the size of the trailer to satisfy the shipper with no regards to fuel mileage and never an increase in freight rates to haul more. That has always amazed me how we are expected to continually do MORE work for LESS money. The next time you visit with your lawyer, dentist, accountant, doctor, or anyone else who calls themselves a “Professional”, see if they will do more work for less pay. Have you ever gotten a warranty out of these so-called “Professionals”? I recently had skin cancer removed from my hand. The doctor didn’t take enough out the first time, so I had to go back. I was in the doctor’s room for 6 minutes, the charge was $200.00, and the health insurance company refused to pay because it was the second time for the same spot. As a result, I had to pay the bill. There is NO WARRANTY with these people!! How many times can a dentist repair the same tooth and continue to charge you for it?? There is no warranty with “Professionals”. I have been in the trucking industry for 48 years and I feel we are all professionals, so why do we continue to do more work for less money? 48 years ago, the van trailers were 38 and 40 feet long and 96 inches wide. Flatbeds were 40 feet long, and we got along just fine. Whose bright idea was it to make the trailers wider, longer, harder on fuel, pollute more and charge less to pull them? I’ve always been told, “We have to give the shippers what they want!” Well, if you want more you must pay more! Anyway, that is my complaint for the month that has been festering for years.
Back to the trailers, I have contacted an engineering company that is trying to get to 9 miles per gallon from a tractor-trailer with the use of aerodynamics. That is not good enough. We have many trucks that do hit 9 or more miles per gallon, however, the realistic average is 8 to 8.3. In order to consistently achieve 9 or more miles per gallon is very difficult, the wind and weather play a huge factor along with the drag of the trailer. We at Pittsburgh Power have many ideas of how to improve the aerodynamics of the trailer however it takes money to implement the ideas. Everything we have developed for improvement of the tractor over the past 39 years has come from within, I think it’s time a government funded organization or a large company that owns many trailers steps to the plate and works with us. Wal-Mart came out with a concept truck a few years ago, the goal was to get 14 miles per gallon, where is it? The problem with large organizations or companies is committees, people that have trouble making decisions, and commitments can hide in committees and the answer is “We need more Testing”. Let’s build it and allow a few great owner-operators test it, we’ll know within 2 weeks if we have something.
Those of you reading this article that work for the government, and I know you read these, or a large company such as Wal-Mart or a large trucking company, let’s get together and build the ultimate tractor trailer combination. We’ll work together to increase fuel mileage and decrease pollution; and you will be amazed as to what we can do in 4 to 6 months. Great ideas and products come from people with a gifted mind, those of us who have a mind that never sleeps, right now it’s 3:30 am Sunday morning, Super Bowl Sunday, February 07, 2016, and I’m pounding on the keys of the computer. If fact, most of my articles are written around this time, my mind will only sleep 4 hours at a time, I sleep best in a two-part day, so the 14-hour rule that you owner-operators have to live by would not work for me. Thomas Edison had the same problem. His saying was ”A man should be able to work when he is awake, and sleep when he is tired”. Isn’t it amazing that the greatest inventor the world has ever had would not be able to work as a truck driver because of the current logbook rules!?!?
Let’s build some great tractor-trailer combinations and save our planet’s precious fuel!
Written by: Bruce Mallinson, Pittsburgh Power Inc., 3600 S. Noah Dr. Saxonburg, PA 16056. Phone 724-360-4080. Website: www.pittsburghpower.com