The benefits of membership in TMC

A unique tool kit is provided to individuals who join the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC). It empowers them to deliver greater efficiencies to their organizations and the trucking industry as a whole.

The key tool in that member benefit kit is access to an endless source of information about truck equipment maintenance, shop management and spec’ing, in the form of the Recommended Maintenance Practices and Recommended Engineering Practices Manuals (also known as the RPs).

TMC’s two-volume set of recommended practices (RPs) manuals is available online to members and on searchable compact disks – a handy feature since there are more than 300 individual RPs. Many of the RPs are illustrated, further enhancing their usefulness.

While TMC staff is involved in the fine tuning of the RPs, much of the development begins with the Council’s fleet and supplier members who identify an issue and then work out details of a solution in a task force or study group.

This development of voluntary engineering and maintenance practices has been going on since 1956.



Organized into 15 diverse study groups and committees that break down into 108 TMC task forces, Council members roll up their sleeves and draft the RP work product during two annual meetings. Some RP work is done in-between meetings and online at the TMC Connect website – the new member-driven, online community, but there is no substitute for the bi-annual, face-to-face discussions.

Once a draft of an individual RP is worked out, TMC members are encouraged to comment and vote on the documents before they are published. Currently, there are more than 2,110 TMC members ranging from fleet executives and supplier professionals to educators, owner/operators and technicians.



The vast amount of information contained in the RPs and offered through TMC is welcomed by seasoned fleet managers but often overwhelms someone new to the trucking industry. However, TMC has designed a way to gently introduce fledglings to the flock.

First time attendees to TMC meetings are assigned a TMC Mentor – an established TMC member – who guides the individual through the maze of task force meetings and study group educational sessions.

TMC’s Mentor Program, coordinated through TMC’s Member Outreach Committee, has successfully welcomed hundreds of first time attendees and often lit a fire in the new attendee to volunteer as study group secretaries, meeting mechanics or sergeant at arms – all positions filled by volunteer TMC members.

With a small investment of effort often come big returns to individuals and their organizations.



The plethora of information from TMC has been used by companies to implement changes and control costs, plus improve the overall environment and operation.

One TMC publication addresses a prime expense: Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide. It depicts, with photos and explanations, common tire failures and their causes. Plus, it deals with conditions found in tubeless radial tire casings and in original tires as well as in retreaded and repaired tires.

The resource also provides practical advice on how to get maximum tread life from radial tires and reduce tire costs, minimize uneven tread wear and casing damage. Illustrations help the user identify radial tire wear patterns and determine causes which can then be corrected to minimize irregular wear.

While the bulk of TMC’s information centers on the maintenance and spec’ing of heavy duty vehicles, technology pulses through each description. Individual RPs do cover the development of software applications for fleet maintenance and the security of electronic driver log systems.

For example, RP 1216, Vehicle to Office Data Communications, provides fleet members with a standard Application Program Interface they can use to write or specify their own programs to communicate wirelessly with their tractors and trailers.



Many of the RPs came about because TMC members have clamored for help to address specific challenges.

Deadly tank, bus and truck fires that occurred after highway collisions were determined to be preventable, so TMC members developed RP 168, Design Recommendations for Preventing Vehicle Electrical Fires, and RP 167, Vehicle Electrical Fires: Causes & Preventative Solutions. These RPs give straight forward advice on spec’ing the length, insulation and placement of the wiring and cable in the engine components.

TMC recently published a book, Corrosion: Complaint, Cause & Correction that has assisted many motor carriers with this insidious problem.

“There’s a power in numbers,” says Dan Umphress, TMC chairman and vice president of maintenance and fleet services for A&R Transport, Morris, IL. “If many fleets are having the same problem, we can team together and come up with a solution that will solve the problem for the industry and not just for the individual.”



TMC often acts as the conduit between members and equipment manufacturers or government agencies.

Sometimes the result is an RP that enhances equipment operations, such as RP 808, Electronic Data Interchange Transactions for Aftermarket Parts Purchasing. This RP applies to fleet purchases of aftermarket parts used in the commercial vehicle industry throughout the supply chain.

The document was developed in partnership with HDeXchange (HDX) and the Truck Applications Group of the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG).

TMC’s membership is welcome to communicate any issue they are having with their fleet maintenance facility either at one of the Council’s meetings or directly to a TMC staff member. Half of TMC’s members are from the supplier side of the motor carrier industry and their input on RPs is required as well.

TMC’s suppliers keep fleets on the cutting edge of new technologies, helping them to operate trucks more safely and efficiently, and with better maintained vehicles.

For more information about membership in TMC, or to join, go to or email


Janet Howells-Tierney serves as the director of council development for TMC – the only industry association that is focused solely on truck technology and maintenance. She is responsible for the recruiting and building of TMC membership, and acts as well as acting as the communications link for Council activity.