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Roto Fasco Canada Opens New Facility
Trucking News

Roto Fasco Canada (RFC) Inc. recently celebrated an expansion with a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new building in Mississauga, Canada. According to the company, this latest investment shows that there is continuous support toward future development of North American markets.

From left to right, are: Adrian Steenson, Dr. Eckhard Keill, Marcus Sander, Chris Dimou, Jens Busse and Robert Furgiuele

Roto executives from the company’s corporate headquarters present at the celebration included Dr. Eckhard Keill, global CEO; Marcus Sander, incoming CEO of the door and window division; and Jens Busse, director of the western hemisphere.

“This is the next step in an exciting time at Roto Fasco Canada,” said Chris Dimou, Roto Frank Group president and CEO. “We have significantly invested in the company and have seen the rewards of everyone’s hard work. Roto Fasco has doubled in growth after the 2012 acquisition, and as we look toward the future, I strongly believe that our greatest accomplishments lie ahead of us.”

The new building provides RFC with 58% more space and is equipped to sustain the growth patterns that the company has experienced over the last seven years, officials said. Meanwhile, the company expects the improved layout to lead to a better workflow and an improved logistic efficiencies.

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'I'm out around $3K': Drivers surprised by licence suspension
Trucking News

Traffic tickets from the 80s come back to haunt drivers as Toronto moves to collect outstanding fines

Truck driver Garry Prentice doesn't remember running a red light in Toronto 30 years ago, but the Toronto courts definitely do. He's one of two people who've had their licences suspended because of an unpaid traffic ticket from the 1980s.

Prentice was on the road about a week ago when his girlfriend called to tell him he got a letter saying his licence was suspended.

Prentice said he immediately thought: "I have no fines, what's going on?"


It was in an Ontario courthouse where he found out the suspension was due to an unpaid $87.25 traffic ticket from 1988.

No prior warning

What puzzles Prentice is that he was able to renew his driver's licence and plates from three decades without a problem and then suddenly he's hit with the old ticket and forced to fork out $275 to have his licence reinstated.

"I didn't receive anything in the mail, any notice about an outstanding ticket. It just went straight to suspension," said Prentice. "That's not fair."

Noreen Frank says a ticket from the 80s has also come back to haunt her. She lives in Minden, three hours northeast of Toronto, and was shocked when she received a similar suspension letter. 

"It's for failing to stop at a stop sign in 1987," said Frank.

Frank says she remembers paying the ticket immediately, but can't prove it because she doesn't have the 32-year-old receipt. 

"I went to the Toronto courthouse the day it happened and paid it even though it had the wrong birthdate on it. I didn't want it to come back at me when I went to renew my licence. Yet here we are 32 years later."

Toronto going after unpaid tickets

Paralegal Daniel Jenner says "they follow you till death and live through bankruptcy." 

Just in the last week, Jenner says he's received three calls from people saying their licences were suspended from outstanding Toronto tickets they didn't know they had.


"Years ago most of the fines just went into default, some went into suspension status. What they've realized is that if you suspend someone's licence, they're much more motivated to pay the fine," said Jenner.

The City of Toronto admits that it's changed the way it tracks down unpaid traffic tickets. Following an Auditor General's report in 2018, it now uses four different methods to collect outstanding Provincial Offence Act fines: adding them to property taxes, licence suspension, plate denial and applying civil enforcement measures through the Superior Court of Justice.

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Zero-emission transport trucks set to hit Alberta roads
Trucking News
A new type of heavy transport truck will soon be on the road in Alberta and its drivers won't be fuelling up at gas stations.

The truck will run on electricity powered by hydrogen — and produce zero emissions.

Transport trucks are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, which are scientifically linked to contributing to climate change. So researchers and industry want to know if electric power can move the heavy vehicles — and how much

 So they're running a pilot project, led by the Alberta Motor Transport Association, to see if the power from hydrogen fuel will be enough. It will be a first for Canada.

"We're really testing the ability of this new innovative technology to actually meet the needs of the trucking sector," said David Layzell, director of the Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research Initiative (CESAR). 

The project will develop two heavy-duty, 64-tonne hybrid trucks with hydrogen fuel cells. Over three years, they'll move freight year-round between Edmonton and Calgary.

The $15-million project is scheduled to run until 2022.

Although the trucks don't produce emissions themselves, their overall cleanliness depends on how the hydrogren is produced.

The cheapest way to get hydrogen currently is by converting it from natural gas, a technique that does produce emissions. That's what these trucks will use for the pilot product.

However, Layzell said the trucks will be producing fewer emissions than if they were powered by diesel.

Freight transport contributes nearly 70 per cent of diesel fuel use in Alberta, his organization estimates. That contributes, it says, roughly 12 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

In the future, the hope is that the cost of producing hydrogen from renewable sources will likely come down, said Pembina Institute clean energy analyst Vincent Morales.

"Investing in hydrogen trucks with fossil fuels now still brings important benefits," he said.

The pilot, he said, is a big step forward to cut emissions on the road.

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Hydrogen trucks to get road-tested in Canada’s oil country
Trucking News

Bison Transport will operate one of the Freightliner trucks equipped with hydrogen fuel cells.

Two tractor-trailers powered by hydrogen electric fuel cells will hit the highways of Alberta in a pilot program to test the viability of doing heavy-hauls over long distances in the western Canadian province.

Freightliner trucks outfitted with three 70 kilowatt Ballard Power Systems (TSX: BLDP) fuel cells will be able to travel up to 430 miles before refueling. The 64-metric ton b-train tractor trailers will enter service with Alberta-based carriers Bison Transport and Trimac Transportation, as part of the Alberta Zero-Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC.)

“This initiative is primarily about moving freight on Alberta’s highways with zero emissions, but it is also about the future of the Alberta economy. Alberta is in the transportation fuel business, and that business is changing,” said Chris Nash, President of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, which is leading the AZETEC program.

The C$15 million (a Canadian dollar equals US$0.74) program received about half of its funding from the provincial government’s Emissions Reduction Alberta agency.

Unlike the forthcoming Nikola Motors hydrogen fuel cell trucks, the Alberta pilot program involves assembling Freightliner glider kits with Ballard FCmove-HD cells. Nordresa in Quebec is integrating the fuel cells into the Freightliners.

If this works, it could be expanded into something bigger. Maybe a hydrogen corridor with hundreds of trucks, with carriers and shippers involved.”Jessica Lof, analyst, Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research Initiative, University of Calgary

The trucks are being paired with the double b-train trailers in line with the needs of Alberta’s transportation industry, said Jessica Lof of the University of Calgary’s Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research Initiative, which helped conceive the AZETEC program.

“There are unique demands in Alberta. We wanted a technology that would work for that,” said Lof, an energy systems analyst.

Lof said she hopes it will lead to a larger hydrogen-based transportation initiative in Alberta.

“If this works, it could be expanded into something bigger. Maybe a hydrogen corridor with hundreds of trucks, with carriers and shippers involved,” Lof said.

Hydrogen also is potentially more palatable in the heart of Canada’s oil sands country. The province’s newly elected premier, Jason Kenney, plans to scrap its carbon tax by the end of May.

In her research, Lof has noted the viability of using existing oil and natural gas supplies for hydrogen conversion.

“If there is an energy transition away from diesel to zero-emissions fuel, it would be in Alberta’s economic interest to be able to supply this new market, while continuing to supply oil for the remaining diesel fuel market,”  wrote Lof and Professor David Layzell, who heads the Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Initiative.

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Truckers satisfied with jobs, but 1 in 4 still looking
Trucking News

TORONTO, Ont. – Those who work in Canada’s trucking industry appear relatively satisfied in their jobs, according to a monthly reader poll conducted by Today’s Trucking.

Forty-one percent of those who participated in the Pulse Survey said they were satisfied in their current job, while 39% were very satisfied, and 13% were relatively neutral. About 62% have been in the same job for more than a decade.

Still, 26% have actively searched for a different job in the last 12 months.

Other than higher pay, the top thing that would attract people to another employer would be a positive workplace image, cited by 15% of those in the poll. That was followed by better benefits (13%), opportunities for advancement (11%), different work (10%), and predictable pay (9%).

Not surprisingly, the same issues top the list of things that attracted respondents to their current job including a positive workplace image (20%), different work (16%), opportunities for advancement (13%), and predictable pay (11%). Flexible work hours or dispatching options (6%) were in a statistical tie with better benefits (5%).

More than one third (35%) said they would most likely turn to industry peers to find their next job, with 18% relying on recruiting adds.

The Today’s Trucking Pulse Survey is conducted through email and social media every month.

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Mack Trucks makes battery refresher standard across lineup for extended life
Trucking News

To maximize uptime and significantly extend the life of electrical charging system components, Mack Trucks is making a battery refresher standard on all Mack models. The battery refresher helps reduce and reverse the effects of sulfation, giving lead-acid batteries longer life and superior performance. Mack made the announcement during ExpoCam 2019 April 11-13 in Montréal.

“Sulfation is one of the top causes of lead-acid battery failure,” said Roy Horton, Mack Trucks director of product strategy. “With the addition of the refresher, we can increase the life of a battery by up to two times and help prevent unplanned no-starts.”

Sulfation occurs when sulfate crystals, a byproduct of normal battery operation, build up on the battery’s lead plates. As more sulfate crystals build up, the battery loses its ability to accept energy and reach a full charge, shortening its life.

The refresher emits high-frequency pulses of energy to remove the sulfate crystals and allow the batteries to once again accept a full charge, resulting in significantly improved life and performance. In addition, fully charged batteries reduce the wear and tear experienced by other electrical system components, such as the alternator and starter, helping extend their service life.

The battery refresher becomes standard on all Mack models beginning in the second quarter of 2019.

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Man trying to transport meth in Canada busted when navigation takes him to Port
Trucking News
PORT HURON, Mich. - A man who was allegedly attempting to transport meth from Montreal to Calgary was busted when his iPhone navigation took him to a border checkpoint - Port Huron's Blue Water Bridge.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspected a Canadian vehicle at the bridge on Wednesday, driven by a Canadian citizen, Constantine Xethalis. Two others were in the vehicle.

After they were unable to provide proof of citizenship, the vehicle was searched. Officers found approximately 10 pounds of meth in tablet form.

Xethalis told police he has a $2,000 gambling debt. In exchange for waiving the debt, he agreed to transport "something" to Calgary. He said he was also asked to drive two others from Toronto to Calgary.

Xethalis made the pickups in Toronto. The group then used navigation to get to Calgary, according to the criminal complaint. The navigation guided them to the Blue Water Bridge.

Officers believe there is probable cause Xethalis did knowingly and unlawfully possess with the intent to distribute approximately 4.4 kilos of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of meth. He will face charges.

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Gravel truck flips over on Highway 1 west of Cochrane
Trucking News

Police are at the scene of a single-vehicle crash that took place on Highway 1 west of the Town of Cochrane on Wednesday morning.

Officials say a gravel truck, heading eastbound, lost control on the road at about 9:30 a.m. near the Ozada overpass. The vehicle entered the centre median and flipped onto its side.

Police say the driver was taken to hospital in non-life threatening condition.

All westbound traffic was closed on Highway 1 for most of the day, with drivers being detoured off the route. Eastbound traffic was also reduced to one lane.

The scene was cleared at just after 5 p.m.

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Truck insurance costs on the rise — when coverage is available
Trucking News

BRAMPTON, Ont. – Many Toronto-area aggregate haulers are angry, and there’s no mistaking the target of their wrath. A recent protest in the form of a slow-moving truck convoy included signs that proclaimed “commercial insurance sucks,” and “honk if you hate your truck insurance.”

They’re among the growing list of Canadian fleets and owner-operators facing higher premiums as insurers re-evaluate the risks they’re willing to cover. And that’s when businesses can even find someone to take their money. Some insurance companies are simply stepping away from industry sectors thought to represent an unacceptable risk — like the aggregate haulers operating in densely populated urban areas.

Jagroop Singh, an owner-operator and president of the protesting Ontario Aggregate Trucking Association (OATA), confirms his members’ typical insurance rates have increased by double digits in recent years. It’s why the group is now looking for a political solution, and formed the convoy to apply some public pressure.

But the truck insurance sector is under pressure of its own.

The performance of transportation-related insurance portfolios has been “less than stellar,” says Todd MacGillivray, vice-president of transportation at Northbridge Insurance. “The performance of aggregate haulers has been worse.” Some of that sector’s challenges can be linked to a condo building boom, leading to frequent trips along city streets where trucks are more likely to interact with cyclists and pedestrians, he says.

Truck insurance claims have generally been rising above original projections because of factors such as pricey legal settlements and technology-laden trucks that can be costly to repair. Average claims in Northbridge’s transportation portfolio increased 9% between 2014 and 2018, while average physical damage costs were up 28.5%.

To compound matters, rates that were charged to aggregate haulers were lower than they should have been, MacGillivray adds.

Insuring the ‘weird and wonderful’

Challenges are not limited to the aggregate haulers, either.

“Anything that’s basically weird and wonderful is difficult to insure,” says Patti Corbishley, senior account transportation executive and project manager with Bryson and Associates Insurance Brokers in Ajax, Ont. Such examples tend to fall outside the realm of 53-foot van trailers and include the likes of livestock trailers, auto haulers, and fuel haulers. Even the commercial haulers of travel trailers can find it harder to secure coverage these days.

“This is the hardest market that I’ve seen in 33 years,” she says of her time in the business.

But history has a way of repeating itself. The ebb and flow of trucking insurance rates tends to follow a cycle of aggressive rate cuts by insurers who want a piece of trucking-related revenue, an unexpected surge in claims, decisions to step away from unprofitable businesses, and the higher rates charged by those who remain.

One of the most notable examples came with 1985’s abrupt collapse of the United Canadian Insurance Company, which at the time was one of the trucking industry’s largest insurers.

Three years’ experience

As the market tightens, insurers are also taking a harder line on the rules established to minimize risk. For smaller operations, this can mean limits on things like hiring new drivers with less than three years’ experience.

That was an unwelcome surprise for Peter LaRocque of JPL Storage in Haileybury, Ont. His 29-year-old son, Clyde Earl, is training to take over the family’s portable storage operation that uses a pair of tractor-trailers to deliver containers to driveways and construction sites.

The family invested $8,000 in a 200-hour truck driver training course, well beyond Ontario’s mandatory minimum, and Earl secured both an 89% average grade and a Class AZ licence. They even secured a $6,000 tax credit to offset the cost.

The only trouble is that Earl is essentially uninsurable if he wants to drive one of JPL’s trucks.

“We’re now up to 12 companies that have declined to insure him,” says a clearly frustrated LaRoque. Each company has said the only option is Facility – essentially an insurer of last resort funded by the insurance industry itself.

Truck insurance on both JPL tractors and a pickup is scheduled to renew for around $7,500. Allowing Earl behind the wheel of a 2010 International would cost about $20,000 under a Facility policy, and even that would only allow less than 80 km of travel per month. It won’t even cover the container, trailer or load. Full coverage would push annual premiums above $30,000.

Traditional insurance would be limited to larger businesses that might be willing to hire him.

There is simply more support for younger drivers in a fleet environment, Corbishley says, explaining why larger fleets might have more flexibility than an owner-operator or small business. “You typically have a safety manager on board. It’s not just an owner wearing five or six different hats.”

“Why did I pay to train him so he can work for someone else?” Laroque asks. “We need him in our business. We need him to be able to drive the trucks.” He’s particularly frustrated at the limits now that Ontario has established mandatory entry-level training for any would-be truck drivers. What’s the point of setting the limits at 103.5 hours if the new drivers can’t be ensured by small businesses that have jobs to fill?

“Somebody needs to step up to the plate and change the regulations so that some of these new trainees with the proper training or whatever can become insured,” he says.

There’s no mistaking the higher risks that come with newly minted drivers, however.

Risky new drivers

“The propensity for a claim is drastically higher than it is with someone who has three years’ or five years’ experience,” says Northbridge’s MacGillivray. “The bell curve is quite steep in those early stages … it’s quite substantial.”

Winnipeg-based Rick Geller of Claims Pro says the three-year benchmark was originally established in the 1990s, when he was on the North American Equipment Dealers Association’s insurance committee. Actuaries poured over 115,000 commercial driving records at the time, looking to the likelihood of crash involvement in the next 12 months. They found that drivers with less than three years of experience were three times more likely to have a crash, he says.

“But it was never, ever intended to be a laser pointer as to whether that’s a safe driver or not. It was to be a best practice guideline,” Geller says. “You need to do a deeper dive on exactly who you’re hiring, and maybe a little more stringent road test, and maybe some sort of training – defensive driving training – before you hire them.”

That’s why larger fleets are able to hire those with less time behind the wheel.

“It’s no secret that the results on the trucking industry in terms of insurance haven’t been good, and they haven’t been good for awhile, and the insurance companies are struggling to find that laser pointer in terms of is this a safe carrier or not,” Geller says.

“I think there’s an element of the normal cycle that the insurance industry goes through, but I think there’s a larger element – that this becomes a matter of survival for the insurance industry, and I don’t think you’re going to see a relaxing any time soon.”

Says Corbishley: “Insurance is all about money. It’s money in and money out … you need them to make money to be there.”

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Erb driver makes Mother’s Day memorable
Trucking News

An Ottawa-area woman gets the ride of a lifetime, and checks an item off her bucket list

OTTAWA, Ont. – Professional truck drivers may take for granted the view through the windshield from the seat of a big rig, but for an Ottawa woman, riding along in a semi was a lifelong dream.

That dream became a reality thanks to Erb Transport, and its Ottawa, Ont.-based driver Lyoness Woodstock, who hosted 86-year-old Shirley Barkell for a 75-kilometer journey on May 11. The trip was a surprise for Barkell, arranged by her daughter, and timed to coincide with Mother’s Day Weekend. Barkell said riding in a big rig was on her bucket list.

Shirley Barkell

“She was so excited about this, she was like a kid in a toy store,” Woodstock told “Erb was good enough to allow me to use the truck and the trailer and we did a Mother’s Day ride for her. They said ‘Absolutely, do this.’”

When Barkell arrived at Erb’s Ottawa terminal, she still didn’t know what was in the works. Lyoness gave her the full experience, even enlisting her help during the pre-trip inspection.

“I got her to do a complete walk-around with me,” he said. “She took the hammer to the tires; I wanted to give her that kind of experience.”

The route went from Nepean to Kanata and back to the southern part of Ottawa.

“She enjoyed every moment of it,” Woodstock said.

He admitted to being surprised by the level of enjoyment Barkell exhibited on the drive.

“I asked her, ‘Why would you want this on your bucket list?’ She has no connection to trucking in her family. She said it’s because she’s so short, every time a truck passes her, she thinks about how much she wanted to be up there with them,” Woodstock recalled. “It definitely puts a different spin on what trucking and truck drivers are all about. I’m tired of hearing all the bad stuff.”

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Transport truck driver charged with careless driving in rollover
Trucking News

The driver of a transport truck that rolled over and halted traffic onto the eastbound Highway 401 on-ramp from Highway 400 for several hours Monday morning has been charged with careless driving, according to police.

The fully loaded tractor trailer was heading southbound on the 400 exit just before 6 a.m. when it flipped over on its side, said Sgt. Clayton Brown, a spokesperson for Ontario Provincial Police's highway safety division.

Northbound and southbound traffic trying to exit the 400 onto the eastbound 401 was diverted for nearly five hours due to an investigation. The ramps reopened around 10:45 a.m. after police cleaned up a small fluid leak and towed the truck away.

Two occupants of the truck were taken to hospital with minor injuries, said Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

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55 lbs. of meth seized from truck in Canada near Port Huron
Trucking News
Twenty-three packages of methamphetamine and two envelopes with $126,000 were seized May 2, 2019, by Canadian authorities at the Blue Water Bridge, in Point Edward, Ontario.

Twenty-three packages of methamphetamine and two envelopes with $126,000 were seized May 2, 2019, by Canadian authorities at the Blue Water Bridge, in Point Edward, Ontario.

More than 25 kilos, or 55 pounds, of methamphetamine were seized earlier this month by Canadian authorities from a semi truck after it entered the country via the Blue Water Bridge, officials said Thursday.

A Canadian man was also arrested, according to officials with the Canada Border Services Agency-Southern Ontario Region and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The truck got on the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron and entered Canada. Officials there referred the truck for a secondary inspection, the agency said.

During the examination, border services officers used an X-ray machine to examine the truck and found something suspicious. Officers then performed another search with a drug-detecting dog, which found 23 clear-wrapped packages which tested positive for methamphetamine.

During the inspection, officers also found two envelopes with U.S. $126,000 in the vehicle.

The mounted police were contacted and they seized the drugs and money and arrested the driver, Branislav Barac, 42, of Mississauga, Ontario.

Officials said Barach has been charged with several crimes and is scheduled to appear in a Sarnia, Ontario, court on May 21.

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Trucking welcomes trade deal
Trucking News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An end to tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. was welcomed by the trucking industry late last week.

“Trucking and trade are synonymous, and this decision by President Trump is a huge step toward achieving a vital national priority – ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” said Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Associations “The more than seven million Americans in the trucking industry cheer this decision and will work hard to see ratification of this critically-needed modernization of trade policies with our neighbors to the North and South.”

The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA) was equally pleased with the resolution. “The members of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA) greatly appreciate the perseverance of the Canadian government and its partners to reach an agreement to address steel and aluminum tariffs,” the organization said in a release.

“Resolving this trade issue is very important to support the competitiveness of the Canadian automotive manufacturing industry and its suppliers.  We are hopeful it will also encourage continued progress towards approval of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement. Today’s announcement is a positive step forward and we will look forward to learning more about the details as they become available.”

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Small trucks can present big maintenance challenges
Trucking News

The techs working on medium-duty trucks face the added challenge of gathering information from customers who might treat trucks as an afterthought.

MONTREAL, Que. — Don’t let the size of a truck fool you. Medium-duty trucks are dwarfed by their Class 8 counterparts, but such equipment can present some of the biggest challenges for a repair facility.

Chief among them is the fact that many of these trucks are owned and operated by businesses that often treat trucks as an afterthought. The people at the wheel might be bakers, carpenters, electricians or landscapers. They don’t think of themselves as truckers. The trucks are simply seen as a way to deliver tools of the trade.

It’s up to technicians and mechanics to be able to draw out the information they need, even if the customers are not as familiar with truck components.

“The more skilled the technician is and understands our truck, the easier it is for him to work with the customer to diagnose what the issues are. The key thing is really communication,” says Andy Craig, director of Canada operations for Isuzu commercial trucks, stressing the importance of continuous training.

Still, the discussions that lead to accurate diagnostics can be complicated by the fact that many medium-truck users are not dedicated to the trucking business at large. They can struggle to explain how a vehicle feels when they’re behind the wheel.

“Their core business isn’t making deliveries. They purchased something to help get the product there,” says Robbie McLellan, director of service operations at Altruck, a multi-store International dealer headquartered in Guelph, Ont.

The lack of familiarity with the truck can also be the source of trouble, says Fred Lafleur, owner of four Mecamobile multi-brand service shops, operating in the Montreal area under the TruckPro banner.

“It’s common that the medium-duty user doesn’t really know what his truck can and can’t do,” he says, referring to weight capacities that can be stretched to the limit by an occasional excessive payload.

Weight-related truck damage

Extra weight takes a toll on components including the suspension, tires and steering system alike. And those already face unique stresses in the midst of urban routes where potholes and tight turns are part of the daily routine, compounded by regular contact with curbs.

Even a reasonable payload can lead to maintenance challenges if the weight is badly distributed. Think of a plumber who carries all his pipes and fittings on the same side of a cube or panel truck. In a case like that, maintenance teams will need to pay special attention to the suspension and uneven brake wear.

“Brakes would be a big one for sure,” McLellan says, observing how Class 3-7 trucks usually find themselves in a constant stop-and-go environment.

While some medium-duty equipment can come with exhaust brakes to help preserve service brakes, their bark tends to be silenced in the urban areas where these vehicles tend to operate.

Steering systems present another maintenance challenges since many of the front ends in these vehicle classes are non-greaseable, Lafleur adds.

Other components such as wheel bearings can be serviced more easily, but are too often neglected on medium-duty trucks, he says. “These trucks are not built to run 200,000-plus  kilometers without the wheel bearings being disassembled, adjusted, lubricated or replaced if needed. That can be a real problem for a truck driven mostly in urban settings.”

Lack of maintenance awareness

“Awareness of the importance of preventive maintenance is the big issue within the segment,” says Isuzu’s Craig. Thoughts about a truck’s condition often take a back seat to other business demands.

It’s why many medium-duty truck dealers focus on coaching customers about preventive issues – particularly when it comes to the warning lights linked to complex aftertreatment systems. For a non-trucker who ignores the check engine light in their car for weeks on end, just how important is the regen supposed to be?

“You can do it for a couple of hours until you get to a shop, but if you ignore it for a week,” Lafleur says. “You probably have damaged all your DPF system and you get stuck on the side of the road because regens didn’t occur, and everything [in the aftertreatment system ] got clogged.”

Excessive idling tends to be common in many medium-duty applications as well, causing its own harm to the aftertreatment systems. It’s why McLellan thinks technicians should pay particular attention to them. “You create soot, dirt, and things like that internally that you wouldn’t create if you were running down the highway,” he says.

That’s one of the reasons why Isuzu dealers often focus on operating hours rather than mileage when assessing a truck’s health.

“The truck maybe starts up at 8:00 and goes until 6:00 and never shuts off,” Craig says, referring to long idle periods.

Some buyers dodge the need for diesel exhaust fluid by selecting a gasoline-powered model. There are no regens in those. But you still have emissions-related issues to manage, and maintenance needs for components like injectors, Lafleur says.

“Gasoline engines have been using EGR valves forever and still do. They also need to calculate fuel pressure, they have a canister system for gasoline fumes, and they also have a catalyst. It’s not as advanced as on a diesel, but it’s still there.”

Maintaining electrical connections

While electrical malfunctions can be a nightmare to address on any truck, medium-duty models also introduce the added challenge of bodies or vocational equipment that was introduced by a body builder after the truck rolls off the assembly line. If the body wasn’t properly connected to the chassis, there will be wiring issues to address.

Most truck manufacturers have addressed such challenges by adopting plug-in, ready-to-use harnesses rather than requiring splices. “We provide all the body builders with wiring diagrams and information on alterations, what to touch, what not to touch,” Craig says.

“The old style was, you searched through the dash and found a power wire and you found a ground wire and you found the signal wire,” McLellan says. “All manufacturers have done a really good job for the body builders.”

Fighting grime and corrosion

But even the best connections will face attacks from de-icing compounds and the repeated splashes of standing water on city streets. To compound matters, urban driving tends to expose the units to plenty of road dust and airborne particles that might otherwise blow off a Class 8 tractor at highway speeds. It means rads can require regular cleaning to keep the cooling system operating as it should.

Lafleur notes that some pick-up based medium-duty trucks are equipped with as many as seven different radiators that all need to be taken care of. “A tiny leak is enough for oily matter to accumulate on radiators and dust to stick to it, potentially leading to engine overheating issues and premature wear,” he says.

All that dust and road grime can also play a role in shortening the lives of fuel filters, requiring careful attention for the equipment that tends to run at low speeds in heavy city traffic.

Many truck owners adopt rust-proofing treatments as a barrier against the corrosive threats, and Lafleur recommends the work.

“We can see by the floor, lower body panels or radiator supports’ level of corrosion if the owner had it treated. The difference is huge. After 10 years, rust hasn’t eaten away the vehicle,” he says.

Spare parts and know-how

Given their low mileage, it’s not unusual for medium-duty trucks to stay in service for 10-15 years, sometimes more. This means shop managers need to secure access to a particularly wide selection of spare parts, and ensure technicians are trained in equipment with a wide range of model years.

It’s one of the reasons why some shops that service medium-duty trucks like to hire personnel from the car business. “If you’re a truck guy, you may not have worked on hydraulic brakes for the last 10 years. It might have always been on air brakes,” McLellan adds.

In the meantime, they require some of the earliest training on advanced technologies, since the trucks travel distances that are more likely to support alternative fuels or battery-electric operations.

But technicians know that a truck is more than the powertrain. Eliminating the internal combustion engine still leaves plenty of maintenance demands, Lafleur says. There are still the brakes, the suspension, steering and lighting to contend with. That will all need a level of specialized repair.

And that will require savvy truck techs.

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OTA working with Facility Association on insurance matters
Trucking News

TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) says it is working with the Facility Association (FA) to work out problems with the system and to review its national strategy.

The FA insures commercial fleets that are unable to get insurance through traditional insurers. It operates in nine jurisdictions, including Ontario

The OTA wants to know why there’s a growing number of trucking fleets being insured with the FA. It has also learned that there is some abuse within the system, which raises the costs for other fleets.

“When applied for and issued properly, insurance with Facility Association has a legitimate and important role in supporting the trucking industry,” said Stephen Laskowski, president of OTA. “Our goal in partnering with the Facility Association is not to eliminate these legitimate uses, but rather to review with insurance regulators the existing Commercial Residual Market insurance policy framework and ensure the proper rating of carriers that reflects road safety and fleet responsibility in this market. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Facility Association and insurance regulators to address such matters.”

The OTA says the Facility Association has expressed shared interest and support for OTA’s goals.

“The trucking industry looks forward to working with the Facility Association Insurance Working Group to ensure all fleets are properly assessed and rated from a road safety perspective and that a level playing field is maintained in the commercial insurance industry,” said OTA chairman David Carruth.

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Record number of trucks in Canada’s spot market
Trucking News

TORONTO, Ont. – There were more trucks chasing loads in Canada’s spot market in April than an any other month in history, according to TransCore Link Logistics.

Meanwhile, load postings took an expected turn down compared to March, but the last week of April saw a 14% jump in loads compared to the previous week. April load volumes were 17% off March levels, according to TransCore, and down 41% year-over-year.

Intra-Canada loads accounted for 33% of load volumes, but were down 3% from March and 26% year-over-year. Cross-border load postings dropped 16% in April, with loads leaving Canada down 31%.

Truck postings were up 13% from March, and were up 68% year-over-year, marking an all-time high. There were 3.78 trucks per load in April, a 36% increase over March’s 2.70 truck-to-load ratio. Year-over-year, the truck-to-load ratio was up 185% from 1.32 last April.

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Nova Scotia Mounties to roll out checkpoints as part of Road Safety Week
Trucking News

Drivers across Nova Scotia may encounter police checkpoints on the road over the next week.

It’s part of a national campaign to improve road safety during Road Safety Week, which runs from May 14 to May 20.

The Mounties will be conducting strategic checkpoints across the province as a way to create awareness and remind people that all drivers have a role to play in making roadways safe.

Each day of Canada Road Safety Week will be dedicated to a different aspect of road safety.

  • May 14: Launch of Canada Road Safety Week
  • May 15: Alcohol-Impaired driving
  • May 16: Fatigue-Impaired driving
  • May 17: Distracted driving
  • May 18: Drug-Impaired driving
  • May 19: Aggressive driving
  • May 20: Seat belts

Corp. Lisa Croteau says whenever you see any emergency vehicle pulled over on the side of the road to “Move over and slow down.”

“During the road safety week that we have going on right now, our main point is to drive sober, drive slow, try not to be distracted and wear your seat belt,” said Croteau.

Between Jan. 1, 2019 and April 30, 2019 Nova Scotia RCMP reported 10 collisions in which someone was seriously injured or killed. During that same time frame, 139 people were charged with an impaired driving-related charge.

This week is meant to remind drivers stay safe while on the roads.

“There will be some enforcement during Road Safety Week. You will see checkpoints in some locations to try and get the public more aware of this week,” said Croteau.

Drivers who come through a checkpoint may encounter sobriety test for alcohol and drugs and failure to participation a sobriety test could result in criminal charges.

The Canadian Automotive Association (CAA) says drivers should also slow down and move over for emergency vehicles, including tow trucks helping other drivers.

Julia Kent is the public and government affairs director at CAA and says no matter who is pulled over on the side of the road, it’s important to remember to give them space.

Kent says this includes tow truck drivers.

“This is where they work,” she said. “They deserve to be safe on the side of the road and we really need to slow down give them space and move over to ensure they get home safely.”

The CAA says that tow truck drivers know firsthand about the consequences of unsafe driving.

“Our drivers report frequent near-misses and almost every single one of them have a story that was really scary,” said Kent.

“On the side of the road in the last two and a half years we’ve actually had three instances where drivers have been injured.”

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Mustang gets wedged under moving semi, drivers uninjured
Trucking News

The Mustang’s driver was able to exit the vehicle by himself and refused medical treatment. (Image Courtesy of Indiana State Police)

Mechanical failure reportedly led to the driver of a Ford Mustang finding himself wedged underneath a moving semi on I-69 Sunday, May 12, around 12:10 p.m., according to the Indiana State Police.

A 1989 Ford Mustang, being driven by 40-year-old Ryan Lawson, was driving northbound in the passing lane alongside a 2017 Volvo tractor-trailer when Lawson lost control and veered under the tractor-trailer. The Volvo’s driver, 59-year-old Ivan Stovburn from Montreal, Canada, didn’t immediately realize Lawson and his car were wedged underneath his trailer and continued traveling for another one-half mile before stopping in the driving lane.

Police are attributing the crash to mechanical failure on the part of the Mustang. Lawson was able to exit his Mustang on his own. He refused medical treatment. Stovburn was uninjured. The accident caused traffic on I-69 to be at a standstill for about 30 minutes.

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Boost driver performance with in-cab coaching systems
Trucking News

PedalCoach’s gauge display represents fuel consumed at a given moment. The more time the driver spends in the green zone, the better his fuel economy will be.

TORONTO, Ont. — How do you coax drivers to operate more fuel efficiently? Is it enough to encourage them to reduce idling or use progressive shifting techniques? If not encouragement, then how about coercion using idle-shutdown timers, speed governors, or engine-rpm limiters? Such devices effectively take away control from the driver — and drivers hate them. Paying fuel bonuses can be a one-way ticket to a toxic workplace depending on how they’re managed. Drivers respond well to incentives when they are seen as fair, but it’s almost impossible to manage a fuel incentive program based solely on fuel consumed.

Drivers will argue, rightly, that there are too many variables at play to compare even two identical trucks on identical routes. Factors such as traffic density, weather, schedules and even tire tread depth come into play. Fleets that have tried such programs can give up in frustration, and drivers come away feeling the fleet is pitting driver against driver on a very unlevel playing field.

But what if drivers were rewarded for driving the truck properly, coaxing every last meter out of a liter of fuel rather using an mpg-based bonus system?

“What’s 7 mpg anyway?” asks Jeff Baer, founder and CEO of LinkeDrive, developer of the PedalCoach in-cab coaching application. “Without some context, the mpg gauge doesn’t know if 7 mpg is good or bad. Would you bonus a driver that gets 7 mpg with a load of ping pong balls? How about a load of bricks?”

PedalCoach is an in-cab application that provides drivers with visual cues to help them drive more efficiently by constantly calculating the optimal fuel rate at a given moment. It gives drivers a moving consumption target that doesn’t penalize them for heavy loads, old trucks, headwinds, or traffic density. It simply encourages proper operation of the truck.

Isaac Instruments takes a similar approach with its Isaac Coach application, bundled into its fleet management devices. It uses visual indicators to coach drivers on proper throttle management and gear selection while providing a performance-based scorecard for realistic comparison of the drivers’ eco-driving skills.

“When fleets monitor fuel economy, they tend to group drivers in similar operations for easier comparison: U.S., heavy-haul, city, etc.,” says Isaac Instrument’s vice president of marketing Jean-Sebastien Bouchard. “Isaac Coach takes the actual fuel mileage out of the equation, and instead monitors how efficiently the driver operates the truck. You could score any two drivers in the world accurately and fairly.”

Vnomics uses only an audible signal in the cab to indicate when certain thresholds have been exceeded. Reports can be produced showing driver fuel and shifting scores as well as fuel burned and fuel wasted.

The True Fuel application from Vnomics takes a similar approach, but uses an audible alert to warn drivers when they are straying outside the envelope. Using algorithms developed in-house, True Fuel calculates the maximum potential fuel economy at a moment in time and compares it precisely to the actual fuel consumed. If the driver is operating correctly, nothing happens. If drivers accelerate too hard, take engine revs too high, or exceed a set speed limit, they hear the beep of an alert.

“We feel that feedback in the cab should be exception-based and audible rather than visual for safety reasons,” says Vnomics’ chief technology officer Lloyd Palum. “True Fuel is a low-drag, easy-to-understand tool that gives drivers the ability master fuel-efficient driving for themselves.”

While these tools might deliver their messages in slightly different ways, they share several things in common. They all tap into the truck’s data port and draw fuel consumption numbers and vehicle parameters directly from the ECM; they provide drivers with indications of how well they are driving, to encourage better performance rather than taking something away; and they provide feedback and score drivers based on technique, independent of actual fuel consumption.

“PedalCoach is as much a driver engagement tool as it is a fuel-saving device,” says Baer. “We don’t make assumptions on the amount of fuel used, just that the driver is using the minimum amount of fuel possible to maintain speed. For every mile drivers keeps the gauge in the green, they get a point. When the trip is over, the number of points over miles is the PedalCoach score. It really just indicates how hard the driver is trying to conserve fuel regardless of what they have to work with.”

Isaac Coach uses colored dots to represent throttle pedal position and fuel input, along with words like “coast” or “accel” to encourage certain driver behaviors.

What the truck driver sees

Who hasn’t heard of the old piano teacher who would rap students’ knuckles with a ruler for improper technique? That’s no way to teach a new skill. Fortunately, apps like Isaac Coach, True Fuel, and Pedal Coach are kinder, gentler, and way more effective than a figurative rap on the knuckles.

True Fuel, on the surface, has the least intrusive interface. The black box connected to the data port can be hidden anywhere. The driver sees nothing, but hears a tone only when he or she is exceeding some parameter. At the end of each leg of the trip, whenever the key is turned off, the system announces the driver’s score. A score of 100 would be perfect. Such near-immediate feedback for the driver is a better coaching tool than sitting down with a supervisor a week or two after the fact to review reports, says Palum. By that time, the driver will have forgotten the incident, and it will be of no value as a teaching tool.

“There are two prongs to what we do for a teaching experience,” Palum says. “The first is the audible feedback at the moment in time you’re doing something inefficient. The other is a ‘game-film’ approach where the driver can review a previous run and get detailed information about the truck he or she was driving, where the waste was sneaking in, and under what conditions.”

A visual report shows actual fuel economy for a trip as well as potential fuel economy — an estimated number based on sticking with best operating practices — as well as a “gallons lost” field. This shows how much fuel was wasted. In addition to an overall 0-100 driver score, a gear shift display shows truck and engine speed as well as gear choices, and the time at certain engine speeds in certain gears. This is a clear reminder of whether drivers are using progressive shifting.

The Isaac Coach interface is visual. On a tablet screen, the driver sees three green or yellow circles. Data on the truck’s weight, speed, and terrain come from the ECM, while the algorithm calculates potential fuel savings compared to actual fuel used based on inputs like which gear the truck is in, and the percentage of the throttle pedal input.

Three green circles indicate more throttle can be safely applied. Three yellow circles means the driver is close to the throttle input limit. If the word “accel” appears, the driver has exceeded the throttle input and should back off a little. If the driver removes his or her foot from the pedal and coasts, the word “coast” appears in the display, and this earns extra points toward the Isaac Score. The word “shift” appears when the driver exceeds a certain rpm in a certain gear, or when traveling faster than 90 km/h when not in top gear.

“Even if all the fleet’s trucks are doing different operations — city, highway, heavy or lightly loaded — they are all scored the same way with Isaac Coach,” says Bouchard. “It’s not the actual fuel consumption that matters, it’s how well the driver operated the trucks by following the prompts on the tablet. The fuel economy follows when the driver is driving properly.”

With PedalCoach, the driver interface is more visually oriented, displaying what looks like a speedometer with numbers from 0 to 100. The gauge is shaded green (0-45), yellow (25-75) and red (65-100). Essentially, it displays the relationship between the fuel going into the engine, the vehicle speed coming out, and the rate of change between those two signals. “We’re also looking at pedal position and what they are doing with the brakes and everything else,” says Baer. “It’s very simple for the driver. All they have to do is keep it in the green and they are operating in the most economical range of the engine under a certain set of conditions, uphill, into a headwind, or on flat ground.”

If the driver encounters a hill or a sudden change in wind direction, trying to maintain the same speed will require more throttle. So as he or she steps on the pedal, the gauge creeps upward toward 100. Staying in the green might require giving up a bit of road speed to maintain efficiency.

At the end of each day the driver is emailed a daily summary report called MyDrive, showing details from the trip including miles driven (at highway speed and in the city), weather conditions along with wind direction and speed at various points along the route, and a few other useful summaries. “Drivers get instant feedback from the gauge display and report from which they can learn from the day’s driving,” Baer says.

All of these tools work equally well with automated transmissions, by the way. More emphasis is placed on throttle use, such as sudden acceleration; choice of performance, economy or manual mode; as well as throttle position and speed control. But the basic concept of managing throttle and road speed still apply.

“Use of these tools lines up with how the fleet is already doing in terms of a culture of performance and cooperation with its drivers,” says Palum. “If the fleet feels that it doesn’t have a constructive relationship with its driver pool, then introducing something like this, where there’s already a lack of trust, can be counterproductive. The fleets that do the best are those that have a culture of trust.”

Palum went on to describe a such a fleet, where the drivers are saying, ‘Hey, please give us another decimal point in the score so we can break a tie.’

“They have moved beyond the bickering and mistrust and they are really trying to master driving for efficiency,” says Palum. “We work with the customers to help build that sort of culture. It’s the carrot versus stick approach. Coaxing and coaching versus coercion.

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Manitoulin buys B.C. logistics company
Trucking News

SURREY, B.C. – Manitoulin Transport has purchased Trident Freight Logistics, marking its first logistics acquisition in B.C.

The company says the purchase strengthens the national scope of its logistics operations, with five operation centers across Canada. Trident focuses on the mining, heavy machinery, steel and pipe and railroad industries.

It’s also strong in the overdimensional and temperature-controlled segments, Manitoulin announced.

“Bringing Trident into the group enhances the flexibility of our ground transportation offerings,” said Jeff King, president, Manitoulin Transport. “This enables us to accommodate the bigger, more complex and highly customized moves. We will continue to expand our logistics division through acquisitions and organic growth in keeping with our commitment to always anticipate customers’ needs and find new and better ways to provide them with convenience, quality, and choice, wherever they may be.”

“Joining Manitoulin is an exciting opportunity for Trident’s customers,” added Mike Davies, founder and president, Trident Freight Logistics. “We are thrilled to become part of a company that we feel sure will continue to provide the degree of care and service that we have provided over the years and which can also provide our customers with easy access to many additional service offerings which can greatly benefit their business.”

Trident will continue to operate under its existing name.

“We are always looking to build out our supply chain services to ensure Manitoulin Group of Companies provides a national scope with all of our offerings,” said Gord Smith, CEO, Manitoulin Group of Companies. “Trident is an excellent fit and we are very pleased to bring into Manitoulin an organization that demonstrates a commitment to their customers and quality service. We are looking forward to introducing Trident’s customers to the many additional services that Manitoulin Group of Companies offers. I have great confidence that we will be able to help them reach their supply chain goals and be their partner for any future growth that they are anticipating.”

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Big Story of Today

Today's most read Story is:

Roto Fasco Canada Opens New Facility

Old Articles

Wednesday, May 08
· World’s first electrified roadways enter operation in Germany
· Ballard fuel cell modules to power 64t B-train tractor-trailers
· Pilot Flying J Offers Free ‘Mid-Trip’ Inspections in Preparation for Roadcheck
· Beer truck accident highlights need for rural cell coverage
· Canadian truck driver faces 2 infractions in Indiana crash that killed 2 kids
· Cyclist hit by truck near Civic hospital
· Peace Bridge Project Complete; Oversize-Overweight to Resume
· Transport Canada Amends TDG Regulations for Emergency Response Assistance Plans
· Petition seeking stricter driver training regulations closes May 14
· MTO posts proposals to consider smart lift axles, other advancements

Older Articles


(USA) State-by-State Idling Regulations


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