New Year's Survival Kit

In my 30 years in the work truck industry, I thought I'd seen it all --ups, downs, highs, lows, the evolution of equipment, the influence of technology, environmental concerns and the impact of an ever-expanding global economy.

But I was wrong. Never before in our history have so many forces combined to create such a state of turmoil. Companies are immersed in a tough U.S. economy while facing mounting operating pressures.

Budgets are tight; jobs feel at risk and managers are continually challenged to do more with less. These next few years will be fraught with challenges indeed.

Fleet managers face the daunting task of effectively managing one of their organization's biggest assets, with a mandate to continually improve efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and navigate the ever-changing landscape of government regulations, along with tighter budgets and stricter corporate oversight.

In addition, regulatory compliance will require significant attention and effort for the work truck industry and will place increased demands on fleets and businesses. Active governments at the federal, state and even local level are passing laws and developing regulations in efforts to make trucks safer, more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Quickly approaching are the requirements for integrating the 2010 emissions standards into our industry. Effective January 1, 2010, new diesel emission requirements will take effect, which have forced diesel engine manufacturers to modify their engines and exhaust systems to meet lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission requirements.

There will be two technologies which achieve the same environmental goal: enhanced Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) technology and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology. Both systems will require thorough analysis from the fleet perspective with regard to planning for vocational applications and equipment upfitting decisions.

Enhanced EGR will require the engine to have greater cooling capacity and will necessitate additional hardware between the engine and exhaust system. The SCR systems require an additional tank for Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) which is injected into the exhaust system to reduce NOx emissions.

Both solutions will require the addition of new components to the trucks and could impact equipment configurations typically utilized in certain applications. A thorough understanding of how vehicle specifications could be impacted will be critical to maximizing the productivity of your fleet.

The NTEA had been on the forefront of the upcoming changes and has worked with the truck chassis manufacturers to help prepare the industry for the necessary changes to truck configurations for meeting the 2010 requirements.

At the association's upcoming Work Truck Show 2009, a half-day session is dedicated to helping the industry prepare for these developments. Hear firsthand from Daimler Trucks North America, Dodge, Ford Commercial Truck, General Motors Fleet and Commercial Operations, Hino Trucks, International Truck and Mack Trucks, Inc. on how their specific solutions will impact upfitting and specific vocational applications.

At the event you will also be able to see more than 500,000 square feet of the newest products available in the industry as well as have direct unlimited access to the professionals who have designed them. On hand will be some of the best and most knowledgeable technical experts in the work truck industry, answering your questions regarding setting specifications and ensuring your equipment is optimized to your specific application.

The National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) applies 44 years of industry expertise to create The Work Truck Show® as the "one-stop-shop" for vocational fleet professionals.

This year's show will be held March 4-6, 2009 at McCormick Place in Chicago, in conjunction with the NTEA's Annual Convention and the Green Truck Summit. Exhibitors and speakers all come prepared to work directly with attendees to develop solutions, explore applications and address operational issues.

In today's challenging business climate, understanding the changes shaping this industry and how they can impact your fleet's operations will save you time and money in the long run.