There’s no shortage of innovative products introduced yearly to the fleet market. The editors of Heavy Duty Trucking attend a lot of news conferences and scrutinize hundreds of press releases on the latest products. Then, at year’s end, we work through a process that aims to identify the very best of the introductions to showcase as our exclusive Top 20 products.
First, HDT Editor in Chief Deborah Lockridge, Executive Editor David Cullen, Senior Editor Tom Berg, and Equipment Editor Jim Park choose their top picks, selected from products that appeared in HDT’s editorial pages between December 2014 and November 2015 and/or appeared in editorial coverage on our Truckinginfo.com website through the end of October in 2015.
Each product is 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 get input from a panel of experienced fleet executives and maintenance managers, including HDT’s Truck Fleet Innovators.
Products need not be available at the time of their announcement, but there needs to be a reasonable expectation that they will be widely available within a year of introduction. No “concept” or “prototype” products are looked at and entire vehicles are not considered. No company may appear more than once in our list each year.
This year’s Top 20 are listed in alphabetical order by company name:
1. Alcoa Dura-Bright EVO
Alcoa says its new Dura-Bright Evo wheel is highly resistant to corrosion caused by road salts, weather, and cleaning chemicals. Dura-Bright is not a coating, but a surface treatment that penetrates the aluminum surface and becomes an integral part of the wheel. Dura-Bright Evo wheels are available in North America for Alcoa’s LvL One in 22.5- and 24.5x8.25-inch sizes. All Alcoa wheels are made from one piece of forged aluminum, making them lighter and stronger.
2. Bendix Wingman Fusion
Wingman Fusion is Bendix’s new driver assistance system that combines several safety functions in a single package. These include radar, camera, brakes, and SafetyDirect. The sensors and systems share situational data to enable stationary vehicle braking as well as overspeed alert and action. Wingman Fusion integrates Bendix ESP, Wingman Advanced collision mitigation technology, and AutoVue Lane Departure Warning system. It makes stationary vehicle braking possible by combining radar and camera data to detect vehicles ahead.
3. Denso PowerEdge Alternator
Denso’s new PowerEdge is a high-amperage alternator for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that achieves higher efficiency in a compact, lightweight design, which translates into improved fuel economy. The PowerEdge handles increased electrical requirements for trucks. The alternator can be up to 10 pounds lighter than the industry’s competition, according to Denso. The alternator uses Denso’s Segment Conductor, which incorporates a square wire copper stator. The Segment Conductor is designed to be efficient and produces more amps at idle.
4. Eaton AMT Low-Speed Enhancements
Eaton has added two optional features to the company’s UltraShift Plus and Fuller Advantage automated manual transmissions designed to enhance low-speed maneuverability. Urge to Move allows the vehicle to automatically start moving when the transmission is in gear and the service brakes are released. After the vehicle has launched it will creep at a constant speed while the engine is at idle without needing to apply the accelerator. Blended Pedal lets a driver directly control clutch engagement at engine idle through accelerator positioning and enables movement at varying speeds. The feature allows for a finer level of control that was previously exclusive to manual transmissions, according to Eaton.
5. Goodyear Fuel Max RSA
This tire offers improved fuel economy in regional driving with good durability and traction in urban environments. The Fuel Max RSA has SmartWay-compliant features such as cool-running compounds to lower tire rolling resistance and improve fuel efficiency. A tri-layer compound runs longer, curbs impact resistance and lowers rolling resistance. The RSA has super-tensile steel belts to add stability and enhance toughness, plus Goodyear Unisteel casing construction for good retreadability and long tread life. It features Goodyear’s IntelliMax Rib Technology which provides a stiffer tread area for lower rolling resistance, higher mileage and reduced wear.
6. Hendrickson Maxx22T Trailer Air Disc Brakes
Hendrickson Trailer Commercial Vehicle Systems has released Maxx22T Trailer Air Disc Brakes, the only air disc brake system optimized for North American trailer applications, according to the company. This integrated suspension/axle/air disc brake system saves, on average, 100 lbs. per tandem axle trailer. This weight savings improves vehicle fuel efficiency and enables increased payloads. Maxx22T combines Hendrickson-designed wheel-end and brake technology with Wabco’s bi-directional, single-piston design for higher reliability, reduced weight and installation efficiency. Wabco’s single-piston design uses approximately 25% fewer parts compared to other systems on the market today, and the bi-directional adjuster minimizes the risk of hot running brakes.
7. Lytx ActiveVision
Lytx says its new driver safety solution ActiveVision is designed to help detect, analyze and correct distracted and drowsy driving. It uses advanced analytics to identify behavioral patterns, such as lane departure or following too close, that often indicate distracted or drowsy driving. Combined with video monitoring, the service can help pinpoint possible root causes. The ER-SV2 Event Recorder collects video feeds from the outside and inside the cab. It also collects data from components, such as the engine control module and third-party ADAS systems, to provide a broad prospective on what is happening in the vehicle and how performance can be improved.
8. Mack mDrive HD
Mack’s mDrive HD automated manual transmission will handle most vocational duties with three programmable operating modes – Easy Shift, Enhanced Construction and Heavy Haul. The on/off-road heavy duty product has extra-tough gears and synchronizers and uses higher-viscosity synthetic lube oil than the on-highway mDrive that came out in 2010. It’s rated for up to 2,060 lb-ft, and is available only with Mack MP7, MP8 and MP10 diesels.
9. MTIS Tire Inflation System for Trucks
Tire inflation systems for drive axles are still a rarity. The Meritor Tire Inflation System for Tractors is a two-part system that consists of an electronic control module and up to six proprietary wheel-end seals. Meritor had to develop a proprietary seal that rides on the polished surface of the axle spindle. It will see limited availability to OEs this year.
10. Meritor Wabco Automatic Trailer Lift Axle Control System
Meritor Wabco’s SmartTrac automatic trailer lift axle control system monitors suspension load and manages lift axles for trailers. The system automatically raises or lowers an axle based on cargo weight. It is fully automated and can control multiple trailer lift axles. It integrates with Meritor Wabco’s trailer roll stability support and anti-lock braking systems. It reduces fuel costs and tire wear, and increases wheel-end brake life. The automatic trailer lift axle control system is compatible with any air ride-equipped lift axle suspension on a trailer and can be configured in multiple ways. Axles can be lowered automatically when a trailer is parked and a manual switch can be added to give drivers the ability to lower an axle.
11. Michelin X Multi Energy D Pre-Mold Retread
The X Multi Energy D Pre-Mold retread provides high mileage, fuel efficiency and scrub resistance for regional and super-regional applications, according to the tire maker. The retread complements the previously launched Michelin X Multi Energy D drive tire. Michelin says the SmartWay-verified retread is guaranteed to deliver 25% longer tread life than competitive retreads,while providing exceptional fuel efficiency and scrub resistance.
12. Paccar MX-11 Diesel
The 10.8-liter MX-11, based on a successful model in Europe, weighs 400 pounds less
than the MX-13, and has ratings as high as 430 hp and 1,550 lb-ft of torque. The MX-11 is freshly engineered and not a scaled-down version of the MX-13. It is designed to be a high-performance alternative to larger engines that will still meet the demands of weight-sensitive pickup and delivery and linehaul fleets as well as vocational customers.
13. PeopleNet ConnectedFleet
PeopleNet’s ConnectedFleet platform integrates software and mobile technologies with real-time predictive analytics. It connects people, equipment and devices, converting data into actionable information in near real-time. Fleets will be able to subscribe to specific data based on their needs. The platform includes the PeopleNet Mobile Gateway, which replaces older-generation onboard computers and serves as a wireless access point within the vehicle. In addition, PeopleNet Mobile Software for Android operating systems gives fleets greater access to a range of commercial-grade mobile devices, with the framework to support and allow some personal enablement.
14. Phillips Industries Lite-Sentry
This trailer-chassis light monitoring system alerts a driver when a light has gone out on a trailer, helping to cut down on CSA violations involving faulty trailer lights, one of the most common violations given during a roadside inspection. Lite-Sentry is for trailer chassis only, but Phillips says that more will be introduced for other trailer configurations.
15. Rush Enterprises Momentum CNG Fuel System
Rush Enterprises’ Momentum Fuel Technologies introduced what it says is the industry’s first complete compressed natural gas fuel system solution for Class 6-8 trucks. The company plans to offer both side-mount and back-of-cab mount systems. Side-mount systems include a 40-diesel-gallon-equivalent system with a range of 176-220 miles and a 45-DGE system with a range of 198-248 miles. Fuel flows straight from the manifold to the individual tanks using a parallel-flow fill system. The temperature-compensated fuel-level system reflects accurate gas and pressure levels so drivers won’t feel the need to make continual fuel top-offs on the road. The electronic control module converts the tank readings through a fuel level interface module and outputs the signal to the factory-installed fuel gauge.
16. SAF-Holland Atlas FastGear
This landing gear, with a speed of 1.8 turns per inch of travel in high gear, cranks quickly to the ground to increase driver uptime by minutes instead of seconds, according to the company. It weighs 156 pounds with a 140,000-pound load capacity and a 27,000-pound side-load capacity. A FloatingNut protects the gear from damage during excessive side loading and a Twin-Bulkhead placed above and below the FloatingNut increases structural resistance to side-load force when gear are fully extended.
17. Spectra Products Arrow Logger
The new Arrow Logger from Spectra Products works with the company’s Brake Safe visual brake-stroke indicator to improve and simplify brake-adjustment inspection. It indicates that a brake is in or out of adjustment without the need to maintain foot-pedal application using a pedal depressor or a second person while completing the inspection. Brake-adjustment monitoring is simply a matter of parking the truck and checking the position of the Arrow Logger. Since the longest stroke is logged from prior brake applications, adjustment status is evident without completing a full service-brake application. The Arrow Logger consists of a nylon indicator and a self-lubricating, acetal housing. These two inexpensive parts are added to the existing Brake Safe stroke indicator to create the logging capability.
18. ThermoKing ThermoLite Solar Power
Thermo King’s ThermoLite solar panel provides an alternative power source for refrigerated and trailers and offsets battery drain from parasitic loads. ThermoLite allows Thermo King’s TracKing and other telematics systems to monitor assets over long periods of time, even when the refrigeration unit is off.
19. Volvo Adaptive Loading 6x2 Suspension
A liftable forward axle automatically adjusts to load weight changes and offers 4x2 operation in certain conditions. Adaptive loading is designed for bulk haul or general freight operations where a truck goes out loaded and returns empty or for diminishing load applications. The axle can provide better fuel efficiency (saving up to 300 pounds vs. a 6x4), improved traction, and reduced maintenance costs.
20. Wabash Refrigerated Truck Body
With its first foray into the truck body business, Wabash says it is using the experience it gained as a trailer manufacturer on the refrigerated truck body, and is using a bonding assembly technology that can provide up to 25% improvement in thermal efficiency compared to conventional designs. The design also reduces weight by 15%, while still maintaining strength and durability. In addition to DuraPlate composite panels, the bodies use semi-trailer grade components and designs that Wabash says add performance and longevity.