Vocational Truck & Trailer

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March Theme: Cab & Chassis

Creature Comforts

Marek Krasuski

By Marek Krasuski

In 2010 the NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry – established an affiliate division entitled the Green Truck Association (GTA). The initiative was to respond to the growing interest and demand for environmentally friendly products in the work truck industry. To this end the GTA serves as a resource for green truck development, supplies relevant data, and shares news on further initiatives. It also showcases green trucks and technology development. Its latest products and equipment will be featured this year at the Work Truck Show in Indiana, March 15 – 17. The Green Truck Association reflects the need for sleeker, lighter and more efficient trucks that are required to meet In 2010 the NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry – established an affiliate division entitled the Green Truck Association (GTA). The initiative was to respond to the growing interest and demand for environmentally friendly products in the work truck industry. To this end the GTA serves as a resource for green truck development, supplies relevant data, and shares news on further initiatives. It also showcases green trucks and technology development. Its latest products and equipment will be featured this year at the Work Truck Show in Indiana, March 15 – 17. The Green Truck Association reflects the need for sleeker, lighter and more efficient trucks that are required to meet ever higher fuel economy standards and stringent regulations, so much so that some experts predict that future truck cabs and bodies could be constructed with carbon fiber weighing no more than a few hundred pounds.

With an eye focused on the future, manufacturers are building truck bodies and chassis with such parameters in mind while taking stock of driver comfort and safety. International’s Durastar series, for example, offers a variety of applications from construction, sanitation, utility, landscaping, towing, dump, delivery and emergency vehicles. The Durastar is equipped with the Diamond Logic integrated system that monitors critical systems and ensures the safe and efficient operation of vehicles. International explains the benefits to users: “Featuring nearly 200 factory available body integration and driver efficiency features, plus the ability to further customize to address specific application needs, Diamond Logic’s programmable system allows for automation of tasks and interlocks to protect the equipment from inadvertent damage due to operator error. While at the same time, its on-board diagnostics self-monitors all vehicle components to reduce downtime and keep you informed of your vehicle’s status.”

Several configurations are available. Interior space is assured in the Day Cab with a width of 82 inches, 40 inches of head room and 30 inches of leg room for driver and passenger comfort. The extended cab, with similar dimensions, provides an extra 26 inches for extra passengers and bench seating. The Durastar Crew Cab, conversely, comes with a 44 inch extension and rear cab doors that open to a full 85 degrees. Durastar cabs are designed to mitigate against rollovers and are made of high strength, low alloy, double-sided galvanized steel. Chassis, too, have been designed for optimal strength with huck-bolted design and with frame rails that range from 50,000 to 120,000 psi. Frame extensions and reinforcements are available for heavy loads and severe duty applications.
New, last year, to the International family is the HX620 that comes with an aluminum cab and spring loaded hood for easier opening. Aluminum is a key advantage in reducing vehicle weight and improving fuel economy, so much so that aluminum in truck cabs and bodies is gaining increasing market penetration. As a rule of thumb, 10 percent reduction in body weight amounts to a 6 to 8 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Less body weight means more loading capacity which results in fewer trips and less fuel and vehicle wear and tear. Lighter vehicle weight also translates into reduced maintenance costs as lighter vehicles put less stress on tires and brakes. See www.internationaltrucks.com for more information.

To be sure, driver comfort is no less of a priority, and Volvo Trucks meanwhile has configured cabs with this in mind. Standard equipment includes back and lateral support, cushion adjustment, and air lumbar support for a comfortable ride. Volvo says air suspensions and outboard mounted air springs, shocks, and stabilizers assure drivers a smooth ride and a quiet place to work, thanks to a thick layer in insulation that mitigates engine noise. Doors are more than 3 feet wide and 4 feet high with an open range of 70 degrees. Ergonomically placed grab bars make entry and egress easier and safer. Instruments are clustered in one place for a quick visual review of important data readings. A full range of models in all series is available at www.volvotrucks.ca.

Mack Truck’s Pinnacle, Granite, LR and TerraPro series cover a wide range of applications. The Pinnacle cab is spacious with an ergonomic design that offers plenty of leg and headroom. A cab air ride makes for a smooth ride even on rough roads and sound noise mitigating features keep the cab quiet. A large interior provides plenty of storage space, and a full sized mattress, fridge, and plenty of outlets maximize driver comfort both on and off the job.

Mack’s Granite series is described by the company as the gold standard of toughness and suited to harsh work environments with a cab designed for comfort. Improved visibility and aerodynamic improvement is guaranteed by the cab’s sloped hood. The steel cab is mounted on airbags that absorb much of the shock driving on rugged surfaces. The Co-Pilot driver information displays all essential information as well as supplemental sensor readings. Mack equipped the Granite with a chassis capable of withstanding rugged conditions with maximum wheel cuts that allow for easy maneuvering in tight areas. The chassis is lightweight, like the Pinnacle’s, yet capable of carrying heavy loads.

Mack’s LR model is for refuse applications. With a view to comfort the LR has tilt and telescopic steering column, multiple seat positions, knee bolsters and arm rests for maximum comfort. Various door and driving options are available, and the company says the LR has some of the largest doors in the industry for quick and comfortable entry and exit. A centrally located storage platform keeps paperwork in one spot.

Designed for the refuse and vocational industries, Mack’s TerraPro cabover series also comes with large doors and can be spec’d according to job demands. Like the LR series, the TerraPro also has right hand steering for curbside use, delivers a comfortable interior and maximum visibility.

For Vocational truck operators, Kenworth’s T880 offers a compelling choice. A bolt-on hood can be quickly changed up when damaged on the job site. The lightweight cab is made of aluminum for optimal weight reduction, and reflector headlights maximize visibility. Tight fitting doors insulate against outside noise. The T880 cab offer enhances visibility with a panoramic windshield, extra large side mirrors, and optional triple rear windows for wider viewing. Interior amenities include air suspension seats that adjust to the driver’s weight. An intuitive dash layout provides easy reading of truck status, and a 23 inch space between seats optimizes storage capacity. A full listing of Kenworth’s models is available at www.kenworth.com.

Freightliner’s New Cascadia competes for creature comforts in cab design, beginning with a sleek and stylish body and interior features engineered for ease of driving. The new Cascadia cab features optional 3M Thinsulate insulation and third door seal to reduce noise. A dual seat/dinette option makes for a kitchen-like eating experience. The seats and table fold in and down to allow for a folding swing down, Murphy-style full size bed. A double bunk arrangement is available with a new ladder rated for 400 pounds. More controls have been mounted on the steering wheel to allow the driver easier access to the instrument cluster menu. More information on Freightliner’s multiple applications and models is available at www.freightliner.com.

With the age of drivers exceeding the national average, many retiring or leaving the industry and the driver shortage reaching critical proportions, maximizing driver comfort is one significant approach that may slow the exodus from the profession. Of the many complaints by drivers one of them is back pain and related musculoskeletal disorders. All improvements in cab comfort, both on and off duty, that make driving a more pleasant experience stand to enhance the profession, making it more attractive to newcomers and hopefully incentivizing existing drivers to stay.

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