Each year, Heavy Duty Trucking’s editors spend a lot of time going to press conferences and combing through news releases on the latest new products for trucking. Then at the end of the year, we embark on a process to identify the very best of the past year’s introductions for our Top 20 Products.

First, HDT Editor in Chief Deborah Lockridge, Senior Editor Tom Berg, Equipment Editor Jim Park and Technology Editor Jim Beach chose their top picks, selected from products that appeared in HDT’s editorial pages between December 2013 and November 2014 and/or appeared in editorial coverage on Truckinginfo.com through the end of October in 2014.

Each product was selected based on its level of innovation, whether it addresses significant industry issues or concerns, and its potential to improve a trucking operation’s bottom line.
Then we got input from a panel of experienced fleet executives and maintenance managers, including HDT’s Truck Fleet Innovators and leading fleet equipment and maintenance executives.

Products need not be available at the time of the announcement, but do need to have a reasonable expectation of being widely available within a year from the introduction. No “concept” or “prototype” products are allowed.

Entire vehicles are not included, and no one company may appear more than once in our list each year.

The resulting Top 20 products are listed on the following pages in alphabetical order by company name.

1. Alcoa Ultra ONE Wheel with MagnaForce alloy

Alcoa rolled out what it says is the world’s lightest heavy-duty truck wheel. The new 40-pound wheel is said to be 47% lighter than steel wheels of the same size. To take 5 pounds out of its lightest heavy-duty truck wheel, Alcoa invented a new alloy, known as MagnaForce. On average, it is 17% stronger than the industry standard, Alcoa’s 6061 alloy, in similar applications.

2. Allison Transmission FuelSense

Allison Transmission says a new series of FuelSense fuel efficiency features can deliver 5-15% savings for certain truck applications compared to its current base-line fully automatic, “constant power” products. Options include electronic calibrations and mechanical improvements that operate the automatic transmissions more efficiently, especially in frequent stop-and-start applications. FuelSense features automatically adapt shift schedules and torque, maximizing transmission efficiency based on load, grade and duty cycle.

3. Aperia Technologies Halo Tire Inflator

The Halo Tire Inflator, which uses the wheel’s own rotational motion, is the first complete automatic tire inflation solution to serve both tractors and trailers with either dual or wide-base tires, according to maker Aperia Technologies. Halo is an easy-to-install system that operates on a similar principle to a self-winding watch. The device uses a wheel’s rotational motion to pump and maintain optimal tire pressure. The system does not require any connection to a compressor and can be installed in five to 10 minutes per wheel end.

4. Clean Energy NGV Easy Bay

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. introduced a separation and vapor containment system designed for maintenance and storage facilities with natural gas vehicles. NGV Easy Bay is a code-compliant fabric barrier system using an industrial curtain that’s more affordable than installing a concrete, masonry, or dry wall barrier in a maintenance garage. The product was developed through Clean Energy’s facility modification group, and can be installed in several days, according to the company.

5. Detroit Assurance Safety Systems

Detroit Assurance Safety Systems, Daimler Trucks North America’s new active vehicle safety suite, includes Active Brake Assist for collision mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead. Customers also have the option of adding a lane departure warning system. The system uses radar pulses to detect metallic objects ahead of the truck. It can track up to 40 objects up to 660 feet away, DTNA says, while the Video Radar Decision Unit refreshes its speed, distance, and time calculations 200 times per second. Data from these two sources feed the Active Brake Assist and the Adaptive Cruise Control functions.

6. Eaton Procision Transmission

Eaton is bringing a new transmission to the medium-duty market that boasts car-like drivability with full-manual performance and 8-10% better fuel economy than a torque-convertor-equipped automatic transmission. The new 7-speed transmission, called Procision, features a dual-clutch design and electronic shifting that uses grade, vehicle weight and throttle input to provide optimal fuel efficiency and smooth, continuous delivery of torque to the drive wheels under all shift conditions.

7. Fontaine Fifth Wheel Dual Assist Camera System

The Dual Assist Camera System features two video cameras that work together to give the driver a clear picture of both the fifth wheel and approaching trailer. The two cameras are mounted back-to-back behind the truck’s fifth wheel and wired to a display in the cab. They automatically turn on when the truck is shifted into reverse. As the tractor begins to back up to couple with a trailer, the in-cab monitor displays video from the rear-facing camera. As the camera setup passes under the kingpin, the video feed in the cab automatically switches to the camera facing the fifth wheel, assisting in the coupling process.

8. Goodyear Fuel Max LHD G505D Tire

Goodyear says this is the most fuel-efficient long-haul drive tire in North America, a dual-type tire virtually equal to wide-base single tires in low rolling resistance and fuel efficiency. The new tire uses a combination of rubber compounding, casing construction and tread design to achieve low rolling resistance while retaining good traction.

9. Hendrickson OptiMaax 6x2 Forward Axle

Hendrickson says its OptiMaax is a revolutionary new liftable forward tandem axle 6x2 system with automated controls. In comparison with the traditional 6x4 tractor configuration, the OptiMaax eliminates over 350 pounds by replacing the forward tandem drive axle and suspension with an integrated liftable non-drive axle and suspension which is automated with weight sensing controls. This control module eliminates driver intervention and training and allows the tractor to adapt to the requirements of the load; raising the axle when the additional capacity is not needed and lowering the axle to distribute the load evenly when required.

10. Mack MP8 505C+

For customers seeking a powerful high-performing 13-liter engine, Mack offers the MP8 505C+. Built on the 13-liter MP8 engine platform, the MP8 505C+ offers 505 horsepower and 1,860 pounds-feet of torque so it can manage heavy loads across rigorous terrain while saving fuel. The MP8 505C+ delivers the maximum amount of torque in all gears to maximize fuel efficiency.

11. Meritor Heavy-Haul Planetary Axles

Meritor’s P600 Series planetary axles are engineered for heavy-haul, oil field, logging and mining applications globally and are ready for production. The P610 and P614 axles, available in tandem and tridem configurations, use common components from other Meritor axles, allowing for reduced lead times and quicker customer deliveries. They feature tandem axle maximum gross axle weight rating at 84,000 pounds and tridem axle maximum gross axle weight rating at 126,000 pounds for carrying higher-capacity loads.

12. Michelin X Multi Energy Z tire

Michelin X Multi Energy Z is aimed at “super regional” applications such as package delivery, dry van LTL, food and beverage delivery and P&D operations. The product claims low rolling resistance and high durability for long tread life and retreadability. The Z tire joins an X Multi Energy D drive tire introduced last year, so Michelin now has a total power-unit tire package for regional use, says the company. X Multi Energy Z claims a 15% reduction in rolling resistance compared to previous Michelin products.

13. Phillips 4-in-1 Electrical & Air Assemblies

Phillips Industries introduced 4-in-1 combination electrical and air assemblies with liftgate and auxiliary cables with multiple plug and seal options. The new Phillips 4-in-1 spiral wrapped assemblies with hanging clamp and clip keep cables kink free and organized for a clean look. They combine the Phillips straight ABS Lextraflex cable, two rubber air lines and the option of a second electrical cable to operate a liftgate (single or dual pole) or other auxiliary equipment (Isoflex cable).

14. Prime Transport Solutions PTS50 Pneumatic Landing Gear

The PTS50 is a pneumatic landing gear product that replaces hand-cranked gear and promises to eliminate injuries and save time and money. It uses compressed air from the tractor-trailer system to raise or lower its legs in about 5 seconds and with little physical effort by the driver. The PST50’s two legs can support 220,000 pounds, and its design includes a locking pin that prevents each leg from collapsing.

15. SAF-Holland SAF P89 Integral Air Disc Brake

The SAF P89 Integral Air Disc Brake is a durable, long-life system that is easily maintained and is ideal for SAF air suspension systems, according to the company. The P89 accommodates up to 2-inch offset wheels for application and maintenance flexibility, allowing fleets to choose the wheel end offset desired. The P89 can accommodate both industry-standard single wide-based wheels with up to 2-inch offsets and dual wheel configurations. This wider bearing configuration helps distribute the load between the bearings.

16. SmartTruck Systems’ TopKit

SmartTruck Systems’ new TopKit system aerodynamic device is a “nearly invisible” system for improving fuel efficiency on dry-van and refrigerated trailers. It consists of an aero rain guard component that runs along the top rear-edge of a trailer as well as two side fairing components on the rear-side edges. The company says it provides a SmartWay-verified 5.5% fuel savings and provides a nearly invisible alternative to side skirts, boat tails and other devices that extend far from a trailer’s outside edges, and create durability concerns and block access to the trailer for routine inspections and maintenance.

17. Supreme Corp. FiberPanel HC

A lightweight honeycomb sidewall design on straight truck bodies allows increased payload and promises long life and low maintenance, Supreme says. FiberPanel HC is a fiberglass-reinforced, gelcoated honeycomb product based on designs used in aerospace and automotive applications that require a high strength-to-weight ratio. A 14-foot-long body with FiberPanel HC side walls weighs 288 pounds less than a comparable size truck built with a composite roll-up rear door and standard fiberglass-reinforced plywood walls.

18. TrakLok International Cargo Security

TrakLok International has enhanced its integrated lock, alarm and tracking system, improving monitoring and alerts for lock and latch status changes, enter and exit fences, and low battery issues. New alarm and alert features include four new user-selected alerts for locked/unlocked and latched/unlatched status changes, a configurable alert notification if unknown or invalid codes are entered into the device, an alert notification when the battery charge falls below a preset level, and support for international address formats.

19. Transtex Composite’s Edge Cone & Edge Tail

Transtex Composite’s lineup of aerodynamic improving solutions is expanding to include the Edge Cone gap reducer and Edge Tail rear fairing. Together the new products can provide fuel savings of up to 10% and qualify users for the EPA’s SmartWay Elite program. The Edge Cone reduces air turbulence by filling the gap between the tractor and trailer, which Transtex says can improve fuel efficiency by up to 3%. The Edge Tail is a fairing that extends from the rear of the trailer to reduce drag and can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 4%.

20. Webb Vortex Unlimited brake drum with CRT Technology

Webb Wheel Aftermarket released a new Webb Vortex Unlimited brake drum featuring patent-pending Cool Running Technology vents that increase air flow, producing 15% cooler operating temperatures for better braking performance and adding 25% to brake drum life. External cooling ribs conduct heat away from brakes.