Chairman Kenneth Calhoun cuts the ribbon to open the trade show floor at this year's TMC Annual event. - Photo: Jack Roberts

Chairman Kenneth Calhoun cuts the ribbon to open the trade show floor at this year's TMC Annual event.

Photo: Jack Roberts

Once upon a time, TMC stood for The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations. Then during an ATA reorganization in 2001, TMC took over many of the functions that were previously addressed by the former Information Technology and Logistics Council, which was eliminated during ATA’s reorganization.

At the time, it seemed to me like an odd mash-up of the two councils. And in 2007, ATA brought back the Information Technology and Logistics Council, citing the growing importance of information technology and logistics to the trucking industry. The resurrected IT council was to focus on automatic data capture, satellite tracking, customs automation, logistics and supply chain technologies, and other issues.

TMC never went back to just being “The Maintenance Council.” By this point, technology was starting to become a much bigger part of what the folks tasked with taking care of a fleet’s rolling stock needed to think about.

Just look at the TMC educational agenda this year for the annual meeting, which took place last month in Atlanta, Georgia. Sure, we still have task forces working on recommended practices for nitty-gritty maintenance topics such as diesel particulate filter maintenance and fifth wheel ground strap maintenance procedures, and the opening technical session was on shop scheduling for maximum uptime.

But then we had sessions such as The Combination Vehicle as a Connected Whole, focusing on the “interconnected automated, connected, electric and safety future for combination vehicles.” Another session looked at the return on investment of in-cab vehicle technologies such as lane-departure warning systems, video-based onboard safety monitoring systems, and other collision avoidance and mitigation technologies. Yet another explored the ins and outs of customizing parameters, the settings on the electronic control modules on trucks, engines and components.

Interestingly, ATA no longer has a specific IT council. I suspect that’s because technology has become so much a part of everything the trucking industry does, these topics are covered in all the councils and in ATA’s main activities.

We faced this question ourselves in Heavy Duty Trucking a number of years back. At one time, the magazine had a special section devoted to computer stuff. We don’t anymore. That’s not because it’s not important – just the opposite. “Technology” today is simply a part of life in every aspect of trucking.

In fact, nearly every article we write has the potential to include examples of how technology, such as telematics and data analysis, can help fleet managers do their jobs better. It could be how artificial intelligence is being used to bring true predictive maintenance to the shop. Or how today’s “smart” powertrains save fuel and make drivers’ lives easier (see page 48). Or how critical event information from the truck’s ECM is combined with video to help fleets identify drivers who need safety coaching. Or how data analysis helps fleets determine which lanes are truly profitable – and which aren’t.

Not every technology is right for every fleet, but in this competitive industry, you can’t afford to not integrate technologies like these into your operations. That’s why TMC will keep exploring them, and HDT will keep reporting on them.

P.S. – Want to learn more about TMC and how it’s changed? Check out this 2006 article on its first 50 years.

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