Keeping Up

As a follow-up to my last column which dealt with the need to keep up with training, there will be a flurry of new technology that will soon be coming your way.

One such technology is stability control. Electronic Stability Control or Roll Stability systems help give the truck operator increased control in times when the tractor and/or trailer can tip over. Without getting too technical, the system counteracts the tendency of a vehicle, or vehicle combination, to tip over while changing direction.

You will have to understand the new technologies and how they will affect your business. For example, brake wear will go up significantly with stability control systems due to the brakes' increased use. The same can probably be said for tire wear. And, of course, there will be more electronics that need to be serviced.

The end result of new safety technologies: What used to be repaired in the collision shop will now be maintained in the service shop. But for you to take advantage of this opportunity, you will need to keep up with the latest technologies to understand where the wear will take place and what service opportunities will exist.

While the technology may or may not someday be mandated, fleets will embrace it. To begin with, this technology increases the safety of the operator and other vehicles on the road by providing increased control. This will obviously lead to stabilized insurance costs, lower repair costs and reduced downtime. General estimates for incident reduction in the commercial vehicle industry currently vary between 10 and 60 percent.

Additionally, because there are more than one major components manufacturers (Bendix and Meritor WABCO) offering this technology, the system will remain affordable.

There will also be a significant impact from 2004/2007/2010 emissions regulations on the aftermarket. There will soon be a period of time in 2006-07 where the trucks built in 2001 (EPA implemented 2004 in 2002) will hit their peak years of parts and service consumption. The same pattern will occur for 2007 vehicles in the future. Who performs the repairs will be determined by who has the best training.

The complexity of the new vehicles will present a real challenge to technicians if they don't stay up on training. The increasing level of electronic controls, closed systems and electronic braking systems will impact the technicians. But be assured, training and technical information on the latest technology is available.

Tim Kraus is Executive Director of the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association. Prior to joining HDMA, he served as director of sales and marketing at Triseal Corp. The Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) is the heavy duty market segment association of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Associations (MEMA). HDMA exclusively represents the interests and serves heavy duty product manufacturers.