Even in a year disrupted by a global pandemic, trucking industry suppliers kept up a flow of new product announcements in 2020.
To choose the Top 20 Products, each year, HDT’s editors keep an eye out for innovative products that might be worthy of honoring. At the end of the year, we also go back through everything we reported about new (or significantly improved) products, whether in print or digitally, and evaluate them in three areas:
- Ability to address industry issues
- Potential to help fleets’ bottom lines
Not eligible for the Top 20 awards are full powered vehicles or concept/demonstration vehicles or products. Products must be commercially available or expected to become commercially available in 2021. Companies are limited to having one award in a year.
The following Top 20 products are listed in alphabetical order by company name.
Anthony Liftgates — MRT-XL
Because the increased demand for last-mile delivery isn’t just about small boxes, Anthony Liftgates created the MRT-XL liftgate to help a long-time customer whose drivers were struggling to safely offload extra-large items such as hot tubs. In theory, railgate liftgate platforms can be made very large, but you lose full access to the rear door. Anthony’s solution was the MRT-XL, which features a tri-fold platform that opens up to an 86- by 96-inch load area. The patent-pending liftgate features a hydraulic platform open-close function, with a spring-assisted third section, and it can handle up to 5,500 pounds. It can be stowed at bed height or in fully raised position during transit.
BorgWarner — Delco Remy Smart Starter
BorgWarner combined two of its existing technologies to create a smart starter that offers extra protection to reduce downtime. The Smart IMS (integrated magnetic switch) plus integrated over crank protection was launched on Delco Remy 38MT+ and 39MT heavy-duty gear reduction starters. IOCP – a built-in circuit breaker that protects the starter from thermal damage while also eliminating wiring harnesses – has been in service for many years. The Smart IMS, introduced to the aftermarket in 2017, ensures the solenoid receives the maximum available voltage by reducing voltage drop. Pairing these two technologies delivers extra layers of protection across a wide range of starting conditions, reducing damage due to excessive cranking, low battery voltage cranking issues, high circuit control resistance issues, starter click-no-crank, solenoid prolonged power, overruns, pinion and ring gear teeth damage, and more. It also encompasses driver/system protection features, such as time-limited crank, running engine lockout, and auto-disengage at engine start.
Carrier Transicold — TRU-Mount Solar Charging System
Carrier Transicold’s newest solar charging system for transport refrigeration unit batteries features an innovative design that conveniently
fits on top of the unit. The new TRU-Mount Solar Charging System delivers 2.0-amp power delivery by combining ultrapure silicon cells with a high-performance charge controller, according to the company. With a significantly smaller footprint than the company’s prior solar panels, the new system provides up to 18% greater power delivery for faster, more complete charging of a 12-volt TRU battery, helping ensure uninterrupted performance. Solar panels can help conserve fuel by minimizing the need to run the TRU engine to charge the battery. The panel design provides a custom fit on the narrow, curved top surface of Carrier Transicold X4 and X2 series trailer refrigeration units and Vector 8000 and 6000 series units. The charge controller is integral to the panel, simplifying installation.
Cummins — Acumen
Cummins Acumen is an advanced engine computing and connectivity module that connects to Cummins’ technology platform for direct access to digital apps, over-the-air product enhancements, and future service integrations. Acumen offers customers another path to the Cummins suite of connectivity features and can provide the lookahead data needed for the fuel-efficient EX ratings. Engines with Acumen will be able to securely communicate information through cellular connectivity and provide a deeper understanding of how vehicles operate in different environments and varying duty cycles. It first appeared in the X15 in the Freightliner Cascadia, where the new smart powertrains with Acumen allow improved fuel economy and drivability through industry-exclusive EX powertrain ratings. The Acumen brand will designate Cummins products that include their own connectivity hardware, with both first-fit or aftermarket solutions expected to come to market.
Daimler Trucks North America — Detroit DD15 Gen 5 engine
The latest generation of Detroit’s DD15 engine has almost 50% new componentry and features increased downspeeding and improved combustion. Combined with fine-tuning by Detroit’s engineers, it delivers up to a 3% improvement in fuel efficiency from propulsion alone, according to the company. A new ball bearing simple geometry turbocharger reduces friction and allows peak power and torque to be reached faster. Modified inlet ports in engine cylinders and a new piston bowl shape combine to create a swirl effect that creates a fuel spray pattern for better atomization. A new EPA GHG21-compliant aftertreatment system cuts weight by more than 60 pounds while increasing nitrous oxide conversion and, dependent on duty cycle, allowing increased diesel particulate filter service intervals. ThermoCoasting is a new feature that prevents aftertreatment cool-down during a driving regen to keep the system at the optimum regen temperature. ThermoCoasting will engage engine brakes when necessary between 900 and 1,500 rpm while the engine mimics coasting by maintaining zero torque at the flywheel to balance power delivery.
East Manufacturing — Narrow Spec Dump Trailer
East Manufacturing’s Narrow Spec Dump Trailer, the NST, was designed for hauling sand and gravel or commodity loads. According to East, it maximizes payload with lighter-weight components while still delivering strength and durability. The NST offers fleets up to one half-ton additional payload compared to a standard aluminum dump trailer and uses aluminum alloys for flooring and side material for improved durability. East incorporates lightweight and longer-lasting components into the narrow spec dump, including its smooth-sided Genesis sidewalls. The 2-inch-thick, double-wall extruded aluminum panels are robotically welded together vertically inside and out for longer life and improved durability. The ¼-inch-thick rear corner posts on the trailer wrap completely around the top and bottom rails and interlock to add strength and to reduce side-to-side distortion.Ê
ERoad — Clarity Dashcam
ERoad’s Clarity Dashcam can be used in front-facing or dual front/driver-facing modes and captures high-definition video. The connected device sends 20-second video clips (10 seconds before and after the triggering event) back in real time when triggered by safety events or by the driver and is integrated with the ERoad fleet management solution. Clips are made available for review in a new video review center, MyERoad Replay, and are displayed with speed graphs and safety event data to make incident investigation easier. Each clip can be shared within the organization for review and training, and with third parties for incident investigation and resolution.
Hendrickson — Haulmaax EX
Haulmaax EX is Hendrickson’s next-generation heavy-duty rubber suspension. To address the growing demand for rubber suspensions across all vocational applications, this suspension is optimized to provide increased site rating, expanded capacity ranges and improved durability, according to Hendrickson, with up to a 70,000-pound site rating for the 46,000-pound-capacity suspension. Haulmaax EX offers capacities of 40,000 pounds, 46,000 pounds and now 52,000 pounds. At the same time, the company said, the suspension is designed to minimize maintenance requirements and is the lightest weight vocational suspension on the market. The Haulmaax EX made its debut on two new vocational truck models last year, the Western Star 49X and the International HX Series.
Mack Trucks — Command Steer
The optional Mack Command Steer system is an advanced active steering system that adds an electric motor to the existing hydraulic steering system, reducing driver effort by up to 85%. Sensors mounted throughout the truck monitor road conditions, along with driver inputs and environmental elements, at a rate of more than 2,000 times per second. The electric motor then applies extra torque to the steering as required. Under normal conditions, Mack Command Steer helps to ease the driving experience in the face of potholes and other road irregularities, and drivers won’t have to fight the wheel on rough roads or in poor weather. At very slow speeds, it’s very easy to turn the wheel – a one-handed turn. As you go faster down the road it tightens up, so you get the road feel. Mack Command Steer also features a return-to-zero feature that automatically returns the steering wheel to the center position, helping with maneuvers in tight spaces.
Michelin — X One Line Energy T2 tire
Michelin reiterated its commitment to the wide-base single tire market with its X One Line Energy T2 wide-base single tire, which it said is the company’s most fuel-efficient trailer tire to date and also boasts improved tread wear. The company said it can increase fuel savings through an 11% lower rolling resistance when used in the trailer position and can increase revenue by carrying up to 287 more pounds of payload. The tread design helps prevent irregular wear and incorporates compounds designed to improve resistance to late-life tire aggression. Michelin notes the X One Line Energy T2 was launched at an opportune time, providing an improved product for truckload and refrigerated truckload carriers who experienced increased demand in 2020. It is the latest update to an evolving X One product line, with a new drive tire targeted for launch in 2022.
Mitchell 1 — TruckSeries
Mitchell 1’s TruckSeries truck-repair software now features interactive wiring diagrams. This will allow technicians to more quickly and effectively diagnose electrical problems using complicated wiring diagrams, which often span multiple pages and are expected to get only more complex as new technologies emerge. Technicians can now click on any component within a diagram to reveal a pop-up menu, offering choices for more information about specs, component location, connector views, and guided component tests. Hidden wires appear faded but don’t disappear entirely. This makes diagnostics simpler for technicians who are challenged by increasingly complex electrical and electronics systems, speeding the diagnostic process and minimizing downtime.
Noregon — NextStep Repair
Noregon’s NextStep Repair interactive maintenance guide offers step-by-step repair instructions and guidance for all engine makes and models. NextStep Repair improves technician efficiency by empowering them to quickly locate the correct repair information for a wide range of component manufacturers. It contains detailed removal, inspection and installation instructions, scalable images and diagrams, cautionary details, step-by-step repair instructions, and testing procedures. These intuitive features give technicians all the information necessary to manage complicated repairs using a single site with a common look and feel, according to the company. NextStep Repair is offered as an add-on solution with Noregon’s JPro Professional or available as a standalone option.
Phillips Connect Technologies — Smart7 Remote Precheck
The ability to remotely conduct pre-check inspections on an entire trailer fleet at the touch of a button is now a reality thanks to Phillips Connect Technologies. With the Smart7 Remote Precheck, fleets can push a single button and light up their entire fleet, test their PSI automatic tire inflation system and check tire pressure, all remotely before the driver even pulls out. Other items that can be checked include liftgate battery power and lighting. Healthy units can be dispatched, while those needing attention can be scheduled for maintenance. PCT’s user interface was designed to give fleets all the data they need, in the formats they want to see. It can be highly modified and can generate easy-to-read reports.
Premier Manufacturing — Saf-T-Latch
Premier Manufacturing’s Saf-T-Latch pintle hitch will close automatically if a driver forgets to do the job manually. The mechanism is activated when the emergency brake is released, drawing on the air from a small auxiliary air cylinder. It was developed in response to fleets looking for a solution to trailer separation events. Rated for a maximum gross trailer weight of 100,000 lbs., it has an ultimate latch capacity of 60,000 lbs. and a maximum tongue weight of 20,000 lbs. It weighs 48 lbs.
Proterra — Fleet-Scale EV Charging Solutions
Proterra’s high-powered charging solution, developed in partnership with Power Electronics, offers a customizable electric vehicle charging solution that can be configured at a broad range of power levels. For large fleets, where customers need to address the challenge of charging dozens or hundreds of vehicles in a single fleet yard, Proterra’s new charging systems can be configured with up to 1.5 megawatts to power up to 20 vehicles simultaneously. The new Proterra 1.5 megawatt fleet-scale charging system can also tie directly into higher voltage utility power lines (up to 35kV), which avoids the footprint and complication of costly switchgear. The chargers will also be able to meet the needs of smaller electric vehicle fleets, with 75-kilowatt, 150-kilowatt, 250-kilowatt, and 500-kilowatt power levels. The new chargers use interoperable, universal charging technology and are equipped to power a diverse range of battery-electric vehicles, from passenger vehicles to delivery vans and commercial vehicles.
Skybitz — SkyBitz Kinnect
SkyBitz Kinnect is a next-generation GPS tracking solution that integrates sensor data from trailers and containers through one device, allowing customers to access asset data like cargo visibility and increase the ability to respond in real time. It combines increased processing power, wireless technology, a large-capacity solar-rechargeable battery, and an optional tether capability. SkyBitz Kinnect currently supports wireless sensors to provide cargo and door status, as well as cargo images and the ability to support additional wireless sensors. It is designed for installation on multiple asset types, including dry van trailers, flatbeds, tankers, intermodal containers, and chassis.
Snider Fleet Solutions — WheelRight Drive-over Inspection System
The WheelRight drive-over vehicle inspection system from Snider Fleet Solutions measures tire pressure, tread depth, vehicle weight, sidewall damage and tire temperature, flagging problems before the vehicle leaves the lot. Commercial vehicles drive over a ground-installed sensor and camera system, recording key data in just 6 seconds. The system works with the help of artificial intelligence technology. Alerts and data are sent instantly wherever needed — or even printed for driver reference — and become part of the vehicle’s maintenance record. Aggregated data becomes a resource for analytical tools to improve maintenance forecasting and budgets.
Valvoline — Premium Blue One Solution Gen2
Valvoline’s latest premium engine oil works in diesel, natural gas, and gasoline engines and provides extended oil drain intervals for diesel and natural gas vehicles. Premium Blue One Solution Gen2 is approved for use in multiple heavy-duty, medium-duty, and light-duty engine types. It provides improved oxidation and thermal stability, in addition to extended drain intervals for both diesel and natural gas engine platforms. The latest product of Valvoline’s 25-year relationship with Cummins, the new oil is the recommended product for Cummins’ current portfolio of products in North America. Premium Blue One Solution Gen2 is approved for oil drain interval extensions for specific Cummins diesel and natural gas engine platforms: a 5,000-mile drain interval extension in Cummins X15 and X12 diesel platforms across most duty cycles, and a 500-hour drain interval extension in Cummins ISL G and L9N natural-gas platforms.
Wabash National — Wabash MSC Refrigerated Trailer Powered by eNow Solar Energy
Wabash National, using technologies from eNow and Carrier Transicold, now offers zero-emission composite refrigerated trailers. The Wabash MSC refrigerated trailer with a solar-electric transport refrigeration unit uses molded structural composite (MSC) technology. The thermal efficiency of the MSC trailer allows fleets to either downsize the batteries required or increase the run time on a battery setup. The eNow Rayfrigeration System, a solar-electric power system that enables a full 12-hour route duration without the need of a diesel engine, powers the TRU and can reduce operating costs by more than 50%. The Carrier Transicold engineless Vector 8100 unit, which is an all-electric trailer refrigeration system, offers reduced maintenance and noise, as well as a reduction in emissions and fuel consumption.
ZF — Wabco Connected Trailer Platform
The Wabco connected intelligent trailer platform from ZF is built on four key technologies and an open software architecture to facilitate cooperation with key industry players. It not only provides fleets with actionable intelligence from the trailer, but also opens up opportunities for third-party system integration and allows fleets more spec’ing and diagnostic flexibility. Not only does it generate brake system information from the Wabco system components, but it also can now bring in third-party inputs. This means systems such as wheel-end sensing technology can flow data on the status of the wheel-ends, such as temperature and vibration levels or brake lining condition and tire pressures. The intelligent trailer platform is built on the Wabco Intelligent Antilock Braking System, Trailer Antilock Braking System, Intelligent Trailer Program, and TrailerCast trailer telematics. Wabco said simplicity is one of the key differentiators of its intelligent trailer platform compared to other telematics systems.