Trailer Talk

‘Super Cube’ Rig Among Finalists for TWNA Tech Achievement Award

Editor-members of the Truck Writers of North America have nominated, debated and voted for the next recipient of their award for technical innovation. One candidate is a l-o-n-g tractor-trailer.

January 10, 2014

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Walmart Canada’s “Super Cube” tractor-trailer is among six products considered by industry journalists for the next TWNA Technical Achievement Award, with debate and voting taking place during the Christmas-New Year’s break. 

Seven editor-members of the Truck Writers of North America nominated products that caught their attention during 2013 and, after discussing them via e-mail, voted for their favorites. HDT’s Equipment Editor, Jim Park, and myself were among the TWNA committee, chaired by James Menzies of Truck News-Canada in Toronto.  

The other product finalists included Allison TC10 and Detroit DT12 automated mechanical transmissions, Eaton’s Advantage reduced-weight manual transmissions, Truck-Lite’s modular LED headlamps, and Mack’s Twin-Y lightweight tractor suspension. Seven other products were also nominated, but none won enough votes to make the finals. 

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Whether the award will go to the 60.5-foot-long, drop-deck trailer and its tractor, a Freightliner Argosy cab-over-engine chassis toting a dromedary box, won’t be known publically for another two months. As with its past awards, TWNA will announce the winner during the ATA Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting, to be held in mid-March in Nashville, Tenn. 

The Super Cube rig was built by Innovative Trailer Design, of Mississauga, Ont., for testing by Walmart. The tractor came from a Freightliner glider kit. Walmart reportedly now is running two of the tractors and four of the extra-long trailers. I wrote about the rig a year ago November (http://www.truckinginfo.com/blog/trailer-talk/story/2012/11/super-cube-rig-for-walmart-canada-might-raise-some-issues.aspx).  

Super Cube generated some lively debate among TWNA committee members, with its proponent praising its high productivity and suggesting that other private fleets could find this useful. But others argued that high-cube tractor-trailers as such are not new, and that the trailer is too long to be legal in most American states. Another charged that its EPA ’98-02 diesel produces more exhaust emissions than the rig supposedly saves by carrying more freight per truck-trip.  

Some of the other products that merited final consideration were also discussed in detail, with editors who made nominations defending them against objections and criticisms. The final vote went quickly, thanks to Menzies’ use of a ranking-and-points system. It was all done by email. 

TWNA’s membership includes trucking-industry editors, reporters, and public relations and marketing professionals. Only editors and writers participate in the annual Technical Achievement Award process.

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Author Bio

Tom Berg

Senior Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.

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