Meritor said Friday that it has entered into an agreement with Siemens to acquire its commercial vehicles business for approximately $200 million in cash. Cummins, which is set to acquire Meritor later this year, has consented to and is supportive of the deal.
Siemens' commercial vehicles business develops, designs and produces high-performance electric drive systems with product offerings that include direct drive and transmission-based remote mount electric motors, inverters, software and related services, which Meritor expects to be critical elements in the next generation of electric powertrains.
Meritor's CEO and president Chris Villavarayan said these capabilities will enable Meritor to offer global customers a wider array of electrified product solutions across the commercial vehicle, transit, off-highway and specialty markets.
"As the urgency grows for zero carbon solutions, this highly talented and skilled team, and leading electric product portfolio, strengthens Meritor's business as we move toward the anticipated acquisition by Cummins," he said.
The Siemens deal ultimately will be yet another tool in the box for Cummins, which recently has been on the hunt for acquisitions in the emission-friendly space, having in 2019 closed a deal to acquire fuel cell systems provider Hydrogenics and earlier this year picked up a 50% interest in Momentum Fuel Technologies, a natural gas (CNG) fuel system solution for Class 6-8 vehicles co-owned by Rush Enterprises. Cummins this month also acquired Jacobs Vehicle Systems – the grandfather of the Jake Brake – bringing onboard its engine braking and cylinder deactivation technologies.
Debuting a hydrogen engine is one thing. Having the fuel infrastructure in place to support it is another. Cummins is feeling bullish about both.
Not long after introducing their first hydrogen engine, the 15-liter X15H that’s part of Cummins new fuel agnostic platform, CCJ sat down with Cummins’ general manager of hydrogen engine business Jim Nebergall to learn more.
The 15-liter engine and a smaller 6.7-liter version are both part of Cummins’ new fuel agnostic platform where each fuel type’s engine has largely similar components below the head gasket. The components above the head gasket will dictate fuel use during Cummins’ roughly 30-year journey to zero emissions which will also include propane and gasoline variants.
But it’s the clean hydrogen-burning 15-liter that got the spotlight recently at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, Calif. where Cummins introduced the heavy-duty workhorse that offers power comparable to a diesel while running on the most abundant element in the universe which, ironically enough, is in very short supply at America’s fueling stations.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center currently shows only 48 public hydrogen stations in the U.S., all of which are confined to California. Hydrogen’s greatest competitor and current zero-emission champion, all-electric, offers 48,000 Level 2 D.C. fast-chargers and 6,200 Level 3 D.C. fast-chargers across the U.S.
Tom QuimbyWhat the DOE doesn’t make clear are the number of 1 to 2 megawatt chargers which Class 8 trucks need for D.C. fast-charging. The vast majority of EV chargers on the road are intended for light duty passenger cars and pickups like the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning.
As Cummins and other hydrogen players know only too well, this Class 8 charging gap is where hydrogen can gain ground particularly as heavy-duty transportation continues to bear the burden of being the biggest contributor of vehicle-based emissions. Not only that, but as Nebergall pointed out, a hydrogen engine versus all-electric offers a less costly entry point and greater efficiency at a time when company sustainability plans continue to come under scrutiny by both independent investors and major investment firms like BlackRock.
“The hours of operation limit driver time, the weight, what we’re used to hauling on the trailers—those things are just really hard for battery electric with weight limits, charge time and the initial cost is just so high and also the future of battery replacement is such an unknown, I think there’s just more recognition that we need something that feels more like diesel from a fill-time perspective,” Nebergall said.
With a 10- to 15-minute fill-time, Cummins’ 15-liter hydrogen engine can easily outpace an electric charger while providing 500 miles of range. The latest Freightliner eCascadia offers roughly 230 miles of range while Volvo’s newest VNR Electric provides up to 275 miles. Average charge times for either of those trucks from virtually dead to full charge will easily exceed an hour with more time needed for larger batteries.
“With the fuel tanks that we’re targeting, we feel 500 miles is just the right amount for what people will be doing especially to start because they’ll still need to think about access to fuel and infrastructure,” Nebergall said. “We’ve gotten positive feedback from customers. There’s a really strong portion of the market where that will work really, really well in both regional and long haul.”
And while hydrogen stations are few and far between, Cummins sees that changing soon enough to support the engine’s 2027 production launch. (Nebergall didn’t offer an exact production year for the 6.7.)
“We’re encouraged by the infrastructure bill that the senate passed last year that put 8 to 9 billion towards hydrogen hubs and green hydrogen,” Nebergall said. “That’s really going to help accelerate infrastructure across the nation and because of the focus on green hydrogen and the need for it, the cost is going to come out really favorably.”
Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, a process that relies on electricity to produce hydrogen from water. When powered by renewable energy like wind, solar or hydropower, the fuel’s well-to-wheels carbon intensity score drops considerably.
Not zero emissions but still ‘a dramatic improvement’Though a hydrogen engine may offer a lower cost of entry over all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell, it can’t beat either powertrain on emissions.
Nonetheless, the numbers Cummins is seeing so far represent a big drop from today’s standards.
The byproduct of hydrogen combustion according to Nebergall is water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
“From a CO2 perspective, it’s a 99-plus percent reduction in carbon,” Nebergall explained.
Why not a 100% drop in CO2? As Nebergall pointed out small amounts of oil in the crankcase still make its way to the combustion chamber where it’s burned and a result, “a little bit of carbon comes through the tailpipe.”
NOX levels drop substantially in hydrogen combustion versus conventional diesel.
“We’ll easily see a 75% reduction in NOX from today’s standards,” Nebergall said. “That’s a dramatic improvement especially considering that NOX is already down 90 percent over the last 20 years. That’s active research right now to see how low we can go in NOX.”
NOX gets even better when the 15-liter is running under a load at a steady rate of speed. That’s something that Cummins is currently taking a closer look at through testing.
“It’s almost like no NOX at all when it’s at steady state,” Nebergall continued. “You’re only getting NOX during transient. So when you’re getting accelerations, the transient behavior, that’s when the NOX is created. At steady state, it’s extremely low but I can’t quantify that number yet. I’d like to get that because I think it’s going to be quite compelling.”
What’s also compelling is capability. In addition to offering 500 miles of range, the 15-liter hydrogen engine will offer a level of power that Cummins’ customers have come to rely on with their popular oil burners.
“On the 15 liter [hydrogen]we’re going to overlap our current diesel ratings for our efficiency series, which is the key, mass market, high volume, 15-liter engine that meets all the fleet needs from 400 to 500 horsepower,” Nebergall said. “We’re really excited about that.”
Though the X15H offers advantages over all-electric, it's still not zero emissions. To that point, Cummins continues development in zero-emission powertrains and brought its fuel-cell electric truck to ACT Expo last week in Long Beach, Calif.
"There’s obviously a lot of interest in battery electric," Nebergall said. "That smaller, lesser asset utilization and when they return to base—there are certain situations where if you don’t push the asset a lot, electric can make a lot of sense. And that's the case for a lot of our medium duty trucks. They have a line of sight towards battery but then there’s still aggressive duty cycles and where they have limited access to infrastructure from electric where fuel cells and engines can make a lot of sense."
CCJ sister publication Overdrive is seeking entries for its annual Small Fleet Champ award. Overdrive this year will recognize two fleets based on size: 10 trucks and fewer and more than 10 trucks. The contest is open to any fleet that operates between three and 30 trucks, and there's still time to enter the first round of the competition.
The National Association of Small Trucking Companies is sponsoring this year's Small Fleet Championship program. Finalists receive a year's worth of membership in the association, with access to a myriad of benefits from NASTC's well-known fuel program to drug and alcohol testing services and much more. All will be recognized at the association's annual conference, where the winner will be announced in October. Find more about the association via their website.Put your fleet in the running by filling out the initial entry form at this link by June 30. Four finalists will be selected and recognized at the National Association of Small Trucking Companies' annual conference Oct, 20-22 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Each finalist will receive a year's membership from NASTC (winners will receive two years' membership) and travel stipends and lodging in Nashville.
Winners will have demonstrated growth, above-average profit and adherence to trucking best practices, all pointing to long-term stability and further growth potential.
After filling out the initial entry form for Round 1, be on the lookout for a follow-up email from Overdrive Editor Todd Dills, to kick off the Round 2 semi-finalist selection process.
Do you have what it takes? Enter today, and good luck.
I was driving on the packed streets of Long Beach, California, heading to the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo when KNX News reported a tough story over the radio: California was going to be hit with a big power shortage this summer.
How big? Roughly the equivalent of losing one power plant, or 1,700 megawatts of power. Water levels have dropped so low in an ongoing drought that hydropower is losing critical water volume needed to turn massive turbines.
Other tough factors are emerging. The Sacramento Bee reported that sweltering heat and wildfires also “pose threats to the fragile power grid.”
Hey! Sounds like a great time to saturate the state with megawatt hungry electric trucks.
Sorry kids. The lawn’s been turned into prickly cacti and jagged rocks and your mother’s beloved flat iron has been banned but the electric trucks are running in Long Beach. Who’s up for a cheer?!
Climate change is being blamed for tough weather, which can trigger power losses. But in a tortuous paradox of sorts the cure for climate change advocated by influential alt fuel proponents is to eliminate internal combustion and roll out more all-electric vehicles. (Geez…I smell a Chinatown redux a la electric truck proponents versus the flat iron society, Xbox warriors or other such groups that desperately need the grid up and running. Okay, I need it too for my ancient and amazing plasma big screen.)
Seriously, how often do you hear media pundits, politicians or even OEMs advocating for any other clean powertrain solutions besides all-electric? It’s actually pretty rare.
Tom QuimbyI first became aware of the great green disparity about six years ago at ACT Expo when natural gas advocates made it known how upset they were with funding in California being mostly marked for all-electrics.
You may recall a few years back when then-presidential candidate Joe Biden kept leading the charge for EV proliferation and a massive charger rollout. It was crickets for other emissions fighting fuels like hydrogen, natural gas and propane.
While President Biden’s rhetoric and alt fuel test drives still remain largely centered around all-electric, it’s worth noting that hydrogen fueling infrastructure got a big federal boost late last year. Feeling the love, Cummins rolled out their new 15-liter hydrogen engine at ACT last week with a 2027 production date.
“We’re encouraged by the infrastructure bill that the senate passed last year that put 8 to 9 billion towards hydrogen hubs and green hydrogen,” Cummins general manager of hydrogen engine business Jim Nebergall told me. “That’s really going to help accelerate infrastructure across the nation and because of the focus on green hydrogen and the need for it, the cost is going to come out really favorably.”
Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, a process that relies on electricity to produce hydrogen from water. When powered by renewable energy like wind, solar or hydropower, the fuel’s well-to-wheels carbon intensity score drops considerably even below electric.
Cummins is, of course, continuing its work on fuel cell development and brought along its fuel cell Kenworth T680 to ACT. It’s also no secret that Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger has said that he believes fuel cell will prove to be an ideal fit for zero-emission long haul.
But along the way, there are other solutions that can sharply reduce emissions while still providing the capability and time-saving efficiency that Class 8 demands. Enter hydrogen internal combustion. Cummins is not the only manufacturer working on this. As CCJ Chief Editor Jason Cannon reported recently, Westport has also been busy in this space with its hydrogen HPDI fuel system. Read more about that here.
I think what really stands out most during my talk with Nebergall was his point about the importance of having access to a variety of clean powertrain solutions.
Most everyone on the planet can recall the terrible and deadly ordeal millions of Texans found themselves up against during severe energy outages in early 2021. The grid in the second most populated state in the nation was brought to its knees. Severe winter storms were to blame.
Nature has and will continue to wipe out power systems elsewhere. In 2018, I was personally reminded of the fragility of energy systems and the need for a variety of powertrain fuels. Besides mangling so many businesses, churches, schools and homes, including our own, category five Hurricane Michael devastated the grid here. The Teslas, Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts that the kids and I had been seeing more of, were now nowhere to be seen because the grid was blown away. Even diesel fuel became scarce thanks to an order from Uncle Sam that made the fuel available for government use only. Losing power for two weeks really reminds you not only how quickly life can change but also how dependent we are on electricity and various fuels for internal combustion including our generators.
Tom QuimbyDespite the setbacks, we all made adjustments, helped each other out a lot and pushed forward — once again — as a storm-weary community. And there were plenty of lessons left behind. One big one for me is the importance of fuel diversity.
With diesel being sequestered, we had to travel outside of town roughly 45 minutes to fuel up. Law enforcement monitored long lines to help keep tempers in check.
Thankfully, not everyone had to make that long trip. Waste Management leaned on compressed natural gas at a local station in Panama City. A driver there told me that while their diesel trucks had been grounded for lack of fuel, they could still run quite a few trucks on CNG. That came as a nice surprise at a time knowing that even though Panama City and neighboring cities — especially Mexico Beach — had been trashed, you could still count on Waste Management in places to collect the trash. (Keep in mind that several roads were impassible for a while thanks to fallen trees, power lines, collapsed structures, etc.)
But now it’s not just nature we have to be concerned about when it comes to interrupting our fuel supplies, it’s also supply chain challenges as Nebergall reminded me.
“If you think about the supply chain issues that we’ve had globally and for other reasons, having engines in parallel with other technologies, it adds choice to even the commercial powertrain industry,” Nebergall said. “If we put all of our eggs in one basket and we have cobalt issues or some other precious metal you bring the whole world to a halt. And so we need to have options and having low carbon, zero carbon engines can help provide that balance of supply and competition and just let the best technology win.”
Nebergall is so right. The prices of critical elements used in EV battery production like lithium, cobalt and nickel have not only doubled over the past year, their availability and sourcing has also raised concerns. You may recall Tesla CEO Elon Musk taking to Twitter to ask folks to get involved in lithium mining.
Currently, China leads the world in lithium consumption largely through the world’s largest EV manufacturer BYD which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China. Musk’s involvement with the Chinese, which includes a Tesla manufacturing plant in Shanghai, has apparently not helped enough in his eager pursuit for lithium which he and other EV manufacturers must have for battery production.
Really, at a time when geopolitical tensions continue to crank up and call international relationships into question, suddenly hydrogen, the world’s most abundant element, doesn’t look so bad.
While I’m not so sure where Musk stands on hydrogen engines, he’s made it repeatedly clear what he thinks of fuel cells with memorable descriptions like “mind boggingly stupid” and “extremely silly.”
Of course, that was a few years before the lithium hit the fan. And Musk could very well change his mind. After all, this is the same guy who once dubbed himself a socialist on Twitter and this week announced that he’ll be voting Republican. It really doesn’t come as a big surprise. All power structures, in terms of politics and energy systems, can change in a heartbeat.
Trucking news and briefs for Friday, May 20, 2022:
CH Robinson names 2022 Carriers of the Year
C.H. Robinson this week named the winners of its 2022 Carrier of the Year Awards.
Selected from the company’s network of over 85,000 contract carriers, the program recognizes 17 outstanding companies for their exceptional quality of service and operational excellence, including timeliness, reliability and adoption of technology to increase efficiencies for their business and customers.
The fifth annual celebration includes an event that will bring together both 2021 and 2022 winners for an in-person ceremony at C.H. Robinson’s Eden Prairie, Minnesota, headquarters on May 22-24. Honorees will be awarded prizes and further recognized through C.H. Robinson’s ongoing carrier appreciation initiatives.
The full list of the C.H. Robinson 2022 Carrier of the Year Winners includes:
New Kenworth T680 up for grabs with Transition Trucking award
Kenworth, Fastport and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative again are teaming to find America’s top rookie military veteran truck driver who made the successful transition from active duty to driving for a commercial fleet.
Under the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” recognition program, Kenworth will provide the top award for the seventh consecutive year. For the first time, that award is a Kenworth T680 Next Generation. The T680 Next Gen is equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and the Paccar Powertrain featuring the Paccar MX-13 engine, Paccar TX-12 automated transmission, and Paccar DX-40 tandem rear axles.
“We urge fleets in America to nominate their best drivers who have served our country and encourage those transitioning from military service to consider the trucking industry as their future career,” said Genevieve Bekkerus, Kenworth director of marketing. “We look forward to presenting the Kenworth T680 Next Gen keys to a well-deserving veteran as America’s top rookie military veteran in our industry.”
The top driver will be determined by an expert panel of judges. To qualify, drivers must meet three eligibility requirements:
The nomination period begins June 10, and the final deadline is July 31. Full criteria and online nomination forms will be available in June.
Fox Logistics acquires freight automation platform
Asset-based third-party logistics provider Fox Logistics announced this week the acquisition of freight automation platform Boxton.
The acquisition of the platform marks Fox Logistics’ global expansion into air and ocean freight services. Fox Logistics will acquire more than 150 global customers and will expand freight offerings for small and medium-sized businesses, as a result.
Boxton automates the freight quoting process, so customers can work directly with carriers to obtain immediate access to freight rates. Artificial intelligence (AI) enhances the robust API connectivity to offer customers complete visibility into the shipping process with fast quotes and pricing.
“Boxton’s freight automation platform increases associate capacity by fivefold and elevates our customers’ user experience by meeting them where they already work, whether that’s Slack, Microsoft Teams, or email. The result is faster, smarter, reliable shipping that’s better for our planet,” said Matt Lawrence, CEO of Fox Logistics. “We’re excited about the relationships Boxton has with ocean and air freight carriers, and we’re going to continue to expand those relationships. This is the future of freight.”
Due to Fox Logistics' direct relationships with carriers, Boxton’s customers will benefit from competitive freight rates in all modes of transportation. Fox Logistics’ commitment to building strong relationships with the industry’s top carriers will help protect Boxton’s customers from the volatile swings in pricing and lack of capacity in difficult markets.
Wabash launches new parts distribution network
Wabash this week announced the creation of a new tech-enabled Wabash Parts distribution network that will unify and expand Wabash’s parts distribution capabilities across all product lines and provides immediate scale to grow.
This single channel distribution network will, over time, include the entire Wabash aftermarket portfolio as well as a wide range of transportation parts with increased inventory and faster shipping, the company said.
“As an end-to-end solutions and service provider, we’re able to offer customers the convenience of working with a one-stop-shop through the entire product lifecycle,” said Nick Adler, vice president of Wabash Parts and Services. “We’re excited to bring our customers best-in-class parts and services including a simplified experience, an extensive selection of well-stocked parts, and faster deliveries -- all through Wabash.”
Wabash Parts distribution will leverage the company’s extensive network of equipment dealers’ service capabilities, as well as the infrastructure of industry-leading partners of national wholesale distribution for aftermarket heavy-duty truck and trailers parts, utilizing multiple distribution centers across the country.
Cummins North America has implemented its Planet 2050 initiative that includes multiple targets to reach by 2030 in reducing its Co2 footprint with a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Many other companies, like Walmart for example with its aim for zero emissions by 2040, have implemented sustainability goals.
And trucking companies are stuck in between – from a Cummins engine in a truck to dropping a load at a Walmart dock – having to find ways to reduce emissions while being part of the largest single source of greenhouse gases generated in the U.S.: transportation, representing 29% of total emissions.
Steve Hueser, transportation director at Cummins North America, which specializes in diesel and alternative fuel engines, said any efforts trucking companies make toward reducing their emissions will give them a competitive advantage.
“Electric, natural gas, hydrogen, it's definitely going to be the wave of the future. As with anything, we will measure that performance. We have targets specific to transportation operations to reduce the Co2 footprint that we use, and so … understanding what different types of power vehicles you have in your portfolio to help us reach our targets for 2030 is important,” Hueser said during a panel at the recent TCA Truckload event in Las Vegas. “I think the ESG-type carriers will be a competitive advantage as we have global targets that we're trying to hit as a business. So I think sustainability is a differentiator, especially in certain lanes.”
Technology that helps with things like driver coaching and route optimization to reduce emissions from fuel use has enabled trucking companies to better meet their ESG goals, but there’s only so much software can do.
Trucking companies have been investing in software technology to help reduce their emissions, and there are many options on the market.
One of those technology providers is Shipwell, which recently released a load optimization feature within its transportation management system that it claims helps customers significantly reduce the time it takes to plan and route shipments, the costs associated with moving them and the carbon emissions produced by the carriers hauling them.
Shipwell said in a news release that its efficient routing tool helped one beta customer reduce more than 10,000 pounds of carbon emissions by slashing the distance driven by more than 2,700 miles for just one shipment batch.
“Packing multiple customer orders into the most ideal mode allows a greater quantity to be dispatched at once, greatly reducing both the costs for the shipper and the number of miles those shipments need to travel before reaching their destination,” said Shipwell Co-founder and CEO Greg Price.
Samsara is another tech provider that offers fuel management tools that track fuel use and report on vehicle and driver behavior, allowing companies to reduce fuel consumption by identifying wasteful driver behaviors such as engine idling, speeding and unnecessary acceleration, as well as report and maintain IFTA compliance.
Illinois-based trucking company GP Transco (CCJ Top 250, No. 163) said it reduced idling by 35% and saved an estimated 205,000 gallons of fuel during a one-year time period using Samsara’s technology. In 2021, the company announced it reduced its carbon footprint by 30 million pounds of emissions.
“There are a lot of factors that affect fuel use, but the main ones are driving habits and unnecessary idling – that is where Samsara is irreplaceable,” reads a quote from Jonas Bidva, GP Transco’s vice president of operations, in Samsara’s recently released inaugural ESG report.
The technology also offers bespoke coaching for drivers on how they can improve fuel efficiency by making good use of cruise control, reducing idling and other fuel-saving habits.
Samsara also provides detailed, real-time reporting and metrics to help carriers reach their sustainability goals. Customers can monitor carbon emissions, identify fuel and energy waste, reduce paper and food waste and find the best way to transition to electric vehicles (EVs).
Alexander Stevenson, vice president of product at Samsara, said better data can help carriers understand the changes they need to implement to reach their ESG goals.
“ESG initiatives are often stuck at the spreadsheet stage. Many organizations have goals, but understanding the changes that need to happen in their daily operations to reach these goals is challenging. This is where new technology can help,” Stevenson said. “The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, cloud computing and AI is making it possible for organizations to get the insight they need to drive safer operations and advance sustainability initiatives. Better data also helps measure the magnitude of these improvements, so they can double down on what’s working and focus efforts in the right place.”
He said Samsara is helping its customers make small operational improvements that increase fuel economy, which can drive big change for an entire fleet. But small is the scale for what trucking companies can do to reduce emissions as they wait in limbo for hydrogen and EVs to become more readily available.
Matt McLelland, vice president of sustainability and innovation at Covenant Transport (No. 38), said there isn’t a whole lot trucking companies can do to improve their ESG scores. While social and governance are part of the equation, he said the focus of ESG for trucking companies lies with the environmental piece as diesel trucks pollute the planet.
“We've all, at this point, kind of picked all the low-hanging fruit. We all get about seven, eight miles to the gallon. We've all done trailer skirts; and we've all done aerodynamics; and we've all invested in a newer fleet that allows us to take advantage of the incremental changes in diesel technology that happen every year to reduce emissions,” McLelland said. “If you're going to drive 700, 800, 900 miles a day, electrification doesn't work and hydrogen is not really available … so there's not a lot that we can do.
“Technology and software, we can use a little bit of that to optimize routes, but we all have been doing that for a long time. From a technology perspective, software, things that involve computers, there's just really not a lot that you can do to reduce your emissions.”
Sustainability isn’t cheap, he said.
But it’s the trend that is putting trucking companies in a tight spot as their customers make big public statements about net-zero initiatives.
McLelland said before sustainability became popular, shippers only cared about which carriers could give them the best price, the best customer service and safe, on-time delivery. Now, they’ve added green to the list.
Soon, companies like Covenant could be held accountable to their shippers that may begin requiring a greenhouse gas report with every bill for that shipper’s carbon accounting.
The Security & Exchange Commission in March issued a 534-page proposal to require publicly traded companies to produce ESG reports. Currently, McLelland said, about six of the top 50 carriers by revenue issue ESG reports with a handful more releasing corporate social responsibility reports.
“The reason that (proposal) has public companies scared, and particularly companies like Covenant and our competitors, is because it's just something we've never done before. It's expensive. It's complicated. It's going to require lots of new processes and investments in technology and probably two or three extra people just to keep track of all of this because it's very complicated,” he said. “So we're all watching to see whether or not this proposal is actually going to be turned into a requirement.”
But Covenant is already working to reduce its carbon footprint. The company recently put an electric vehicle on the road in Atlanta and is looking into renewable diesel made from feedstock that is better for engines, significantly reduces carbon emissions and doesn’t violate the engine warranty. McLelland said renewable diesel is one of the most encouraging things as trucking companies wait on mass EV options, but even it isn’t very available.
Stevenson said Samsara research shows that 77% of operations and fleet leaders believe fleet electrification is important for their organization to meet sustainability goals. And while those goals have been pushing trucking companies to adopt technology in recent years, today’s rising fuel prices are urging increased interest in EVs.
“Electrification of an entire fleet takes time, but our solutions can kickstart electrification plans and better manage EVs once they are rolled out,” he said.
When a trucking company or owner operator sends emails to brokers with their truck availability, oftentimes those emails go into a black hole and are never seen. That’s bad news for the broker and the hauler.
But Parade, a software provider that helps freight brokers digitize operations, reads all those emails automatically for its broker customers, enabling them to process that carrier into their system. One of the company’s primary goals is carrier reuse, and while its focus is on the broker side, carriers can benefit as well.
Parade pulls data – a driver’s location, description of equipment, preferred lanes, etc. – from its more than 20 capacity management integration partners, including Trucker Path, DAT Freight & Analytics and, most recently, 3PL Systems. The data is used to build carrier profiles based on the carrier’s preferences so a broker can select the right carrier for a load. Better carrier profiles let brokers personalize a list of loads available to each carrier, saving the carrier time and effort.
Parade Co-founder and CEO Anthony Sutardja said the software offers carriers new business leads, helping them keep their trucks on the road making money, and helps brokers build relationships with those carriers so they can book more loads.
“That reuse – once there's an established relationship – really enables this trust between the broker and carrier to work together and enable them to move more freight together but in a way that doesn't add friction to the process and doesn't result in a truck having to be moved empty,” he said. “We think that by enabling the brokers to establish more relationships, that is better business for the carrier. That's better business for the broker as well and really helps the industry move along more efficiently,” which is much needed amid supply chain issues and driver shortages.
As brokers ship more freight with a certain carrier, Sutardja said it saves carriers and brokers time that they’re not spending on the phone negotiating and onboarding, which comes at a cost on both sides. He said the “pre-baked trust” that comes with carrier reuse accelerates communication and enables carriers to self-book freight.
He said the broker-carrier relationship also benefits carriers’ uptime because brokers can negotiate on behalf of the carrier to keep freight moving.
“The more you do freight with a carrier, the more trust you have … If they've worked together before, they already have established that trust on understanding the procedures … but also the broker is there to help their end customer as well in driving towards a smooth fulfillment operation,” Sutardja said. “What I mean by that is some of the brokers know acutely well that the dock hours at this specific facility are flexible, and they can call the docking appointment manager to really push and give with the carrier because maybe the carrier is running behind, and they really need to get rescheduled, and they don't want to wait another 24 hours for the dock to reopen.”
And once those relationships are built, he said carriers have more certainty in receiving freight opportunities, allowing them to better plan.
That includes small, lesser-known carriers and owner operators. Sutardja said Parade helps its broker customers find new carriers wherever they do business. For example, the company reaches owner operators via its integration partner CloudTrucks.
“Parade drives towards carrier reuse in two angles: for the (brokers) that already have a great, healthy relationship with their core carriers, we help automate that and drive it towards more efficiencies so that these carriers can do more freight with their existing trusted broker partners; and for the carriers that the broker doesn't know well, we enable the broker to more quickly develop relationships with these carriers and help to turn them into a long-term recurring relationship.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has effectively shut down Pennsylvania-licensed truck driver Eric G. Burke after he continued operating despite being in prohibited status in FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
According to FMCSA, on May 18, 2020, Burke submitted to a pre-employment controlled substance test while seeking employment with Lentzcaping, Inc. On May 29, 2020, the Medical Review Officer notified Burke that he had tested positive for marijuana metabolites and that he was prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle. Burke was also referred to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for evaluation, education and treatment.
Burke allegedly ignored his operating prohibition and the requirement to undergo an evaluation and continued to drive in interstate commerce.
According to FMCSA’s imminent hazard order, on Oct. 11, 2020, Burke underwent a roadside inspection after a single-vehicle crash and was placed out-of-service for possession of marijuana while operating a commercial vehicle. He was also in violation for not completing the SAP evaluation and return-to-duty process.
Then, on June 14, 2021, Burke was subject to a roadside inspection while driving for Philadelphia-based, nine-truck Sinop Trucking and was placed out-of-service for performing a safety-sensitive function while prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. He was also placed out-of-service for possession of alcohol while on-duty.
He was again placed out-of-service while driving for Sinop on Dec. 15, 2021, during a roadside inspection for operating while prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
The imminent hazard order states that Burke’s CDL was suspended by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on Jan. 24, 2022, because he was prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle, but he continued to operate, making at least seven more trips in interstate commerce between March 12 and April 21.
On April 21, Burke was subject to a roadside inspection and was once again placed out-of-service for operating, still for Sinop, while prohibited in the Clearinghouse, as well as for operating without a CDL.
Thomas Vasquez, a manager for Sinop Trucking, confirmed Thursday that Burke used to drive for the company, but that the company was not aware that he was listed as prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Vasquez added that he only recently started working at Sinop and was not aware of the three out-of-service orders Burke received while driving for the company.
According to FMCSA's Safety Measurement System, Sinop Trucking has a 57.7% driver out-of-service rate -- approximately 10 times the national average (5.8%), with most such OOS violations citing truck operation without an ELD when required.
FMCSA said Burke “failed to exercise an appropriate duty of care to the motoring public while operating a CMV. Specifically, [he] ignored FMCSRs relating to alcohol and controlled substances use and possession, medical certification, and the safe operation of a CMV.”
Governor Laura Kelly this week signed into law Senate Bill 313, enabling the deployment of fully autonomous trucks on public roads in the state.
Thursday, autonomous middle mile logistics startup Gatik announced that it would expand its operations to Kansas. The company worked closely with Walmart and the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Governor’s office, leadership in the House and Senate and the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association to develop and propose legislation that prioritizes the safe and structured introduction of autonomous vehicles in the state.
Prior to commencing operations, Gatik will work closely with state and local authorities to provide education and training sessions to law enforcement and first responders as part of the company’s industry-leading stakeholder engagement strategy.
Gatik and Walmart have a history of working jointly with state legislators and regulators across multiple jurisdictions. In 2019, Walmart and Gatik proposed legislation in Arkansas to pave the way for commercial operations to commence and in 2020, the companies received the first approval ever granted by the Arkansas State Highway Commission to remove the safety driver from Gatik’s autonomous trucks, following the completion of 18 months’ successful operations.
Since commencing commercial operations in 2019, Gatik has achieved a 100% safety record across multiple operational sites in North America – including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Ontario – and last year became the first company to operate fully driverless commercial deliveries on a middle mile delivery route anywhere in the world with Walmart, in their home state of Arkansas.
Not all transportation stakeholders were thrilled, however. Members of the Teamsters have worked for months opposing the measure, calling out the bill’s "dangerous language" that would put future autonomous vehicles on the road without human safety operators.
“This bill was rushed through the legislature over objections from Republicans and Democrats alike,” said Daniel Avelyn, Teamsters International Vice President for the Central Region and President of Joint Council 56. “The Teamsters will continue fighting back nationwide against the implementation of any new technology that abandons public safety and destroys good-paying, quality jobs.”
Conversely, Gatik Head of Policy Richard Steiner noted that unfurling commercial autonomy would create "a wealth of new jobs," while "delivering essential goods to Kansans with speed and efficiency.”
Kansas Teamsters built bipartisan opposition to the bill and stressed the need for human safety operators, evidence-based liability dollar amounts, and transparency from autonomous vehicle companies regarding safety and crash data.
“We understand that autonomous vehicle technology is progressing, but we are facing a crossroads as a nation,” Avelyn said. “This technology can either be implemented responsibly to complement and supplement the work that our members do every day, or it can be done recklessly, risking the lives of our friends and neighbors, and upending the workforce as we know it.”
Eaton has introduced a family of 48-volt DC-DC converters for diesel-powered commercial vehicles that can be used to power accessories such as antilock brakes and lights. Unlike competitive offerings, Eaton’s DC-DC converters are operational in ambient temperatures up to 85 degrees Celsius and boast 97% design efficiency.
Many commercial vehicle manufacturers are transitioning to 48-volt architectures, said Ben Karrer, director, Technology Development, Eaton’s eMobility business, "so having the ability to efficiently convert power from high to low voltage is critical."
Eaton’s DC-DC converter takes power from a 48-volt system and reduces it to 24 volts. The bi-directional unit then further reduces the power to 12 volts for use in low-voltage systems and charges a 12-volt battery that stores power in case of a fault in the main power supply.
Eaton offers a family of DC-DC converters that adhere to Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) B functional requirements and can be optimized to work seamlessly with a manufacturer’s alternator specifications. The converters can also be tuned for specific duty cycles via advanced digital control architecture, enabling flexible control modes through firmware adaptation.
The DC-DC power converter also features specialized high-power lock box (HPLB) power connectors. The HPLB connectors are designed by Royal Power Solutions, a leading manufacturer of high-precision electrical connectivity components that Eaton acquired earlier this year.
The DC-DC power converter’s HPLB terminals provide superior efficiency and reliability as well as protection against the elements. Additionally, the HPLB terminals are waterproof up to one meter deep and strong enough to withstand high-pressure water spray.
Eaton’s DC-DC converter includes noise reduction and rejection technologies, so the unit is unaffected by and does not interfere with vehicle electronics. Additionally, unlike competitive technologies, the design efficiency of Eaton’s air-cooled DC-DC converters reduces power loss over a wide operating range, while the innovative die-cast design features a fin pattern that delivers optimal thermal performance.
Commercial vehicle 48-volt architectures also create the potential for the mild hybridization of drive systems. Additionally, the higher power systems can be used to power electrified heaters to quickly heat a vehicle’s aftertreatment catalyst to help reduce emissions.