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October 9, 2020 12:00 PM, EDT

Adapting to the Virtual Environment

vehicle damageIn TMC's study group, Vice Chairman Chris Sterwerf described the impact that minor vehicle damage can have on an ADAS system. (Chris Sterwerf)

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Societal changes — accelerated by technology and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis — are transforming the way fleets specify and operate equipment in both intentional and unintended ways.

Staying ahead of the learning curve is paramount to maintaining and securing fleet operations. That’s why it was appropriate that the theme of TMC’s 2020 Fall Meeting was “Reliable Answers for Uncertain Times.”

TMC’s 2020 Fall Meeting, our second and largest virtual event this year held Sept. 15-17, showcased industry approaches to integrated powertrains, supporting education to resolve technician shortages, and many other technically focused topics including electrical/electronic, tire, engine, cabs/controls, management, chassis, trailer and sustainability issues.

Robert Braswell

Braswell

The educational content of the event was delivered on par with that typically featured at the Council’s in-person events — albeit this year in a completely online venue.

What was equally impressive was the way TMC’s membership adapted to this new medium to conduct its important voluntary standard- setting activities without missing a beat. On Sept. 15, TMC task forces held more than 100 virtual meetings in an eight-hour period, moving forward their work on Recommended Practices (RPs), Information Reports (IRs) and other technical information pertaining to commercial vehicle maintenance and specification.

Five years ago, this likely would not have been possible. At that time, TMC was just launching its social media and collaborative work platform — TMC Connect — which made much of this smooth transition possible. And the videoconferencing technology that’s become so commonplace now — practically unheard of in trucking then — made delivering our educational content practical and effective.

This all-virtual alternative to our usual in-person event allowed TMC members and nonmembers alike the chance to experience all the content of TMC’s Fall Meeting while still being sensitive to the health- and economic- related pressures that we all are facing in 2020. We’re excited to have been able to offer attendees our full complement of sessions and opportunities to participate in industry recommended practice development.

TMC was unfortunately not able to hold its National Technician Skills Competitions in 2020, but we were pleased to introduce, with American Trucking Associations, the first-ever National Technician Appreciation Week Sept. 21-25, during which the Council offered special online training sessions aimed at technicians and shop supervisors in our annual PDTC Technician Training Fair, as well as other media activities that showcased commercial vehicle technicians.

While we are pleased our virtual events in 2020 have been successful, we still look forward to a return to business as usual as we head into next year, with TMC’s 2021 Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition, scheduled for March 8-11 in Orlando, Fla., at the Orange County Convention Center. Exhibit sales have been brisk thus far, and the Council anticipates better times and strong attendance in the spring.

How to Spell ADAS: New TMC Task Forces Address Advanced Technologies

At TMC’s 2020 Fall Meeting, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) were a frequent topic of conversation across various study group, task force and technical sessions. As a result, several new task forces were established in order to pursue the development of TMC RPs and IRs to facilitate more widespread adoption, specification and maintenance of these important safety enhancing technologies.

As an active partner in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Tech-Celerate Now program, TMC is developing technical materials to aid in the selection, specification and maintenance of ADAS. Specifically, TMC has identified more than a dozen target projects for creating new or revising existing RPs to address these topics.

Other efforts include:

  • A new S.18 task force to develop resource documents to assist in the selection and spec’ing of ADAS technologies, with regard to equipment type, operational and vocational applications, and other fleet- specific factors.
  • A new S.5 task force to develop recommendations for training of technicians who maintain ADAS systems.
  • Expansion of the scope of the S.18 Automated Truck Inspection and Enforcement Task Force, to include examination of ADAS technologies in terms of safety inspection and determination of out-of-service conditions. TMC has invited the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to participate in this task force to bring the law-enforcement perspective to the table.

In addition to these, Legler said TMC’s S.17 Collision and Corrosion Study Group has begun work on collision repair standards for ADAS-equipped vehicles. During its Study Group Session, S.17 leaders led by Second Vice Chairman Chris Sterwerf, chief operating officer/chief financial officer, Fairfield Auto & Truck Service Inc., of Fairfield Ohio, described in detail the impacts that even minor vehicle damage can have on the proper functioning of ADAS systems, and why it is critical to properly account for all ADAS components in repair functions, particularly as the result of a crash.

vehicle damage

In TMC's study group, Vice Chairman Chris Sterwerf described the impact that minor vehicle damage can have on an ADAS system. (Chris Sterwerf)

Sterwerf, who also chairs the S.18 Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Task Force, relates that most post- repair problems with ADAS systems are traced to two frequent sources — improper windshield/glass replacement and improper bumper repair and reinstallation. Many other factors come into play involving frame alignment, use of proper replacement frame and crossmember components, painting techniques, resetting systems to the proper operating parameters, and other repair-related replacements and modifications. Glass and bumper repairs frequently are attempted even in a routine shop setting and should be approached only with proper research and techniques.

This technical session also stressed that technicians need to be alert during repair to potential intentional disablement of ADAS components. As illustrated in Figure 1, a technician performing a bumper alignment check noticed that the reflective tape on the radar emitter connector was not visible as it should have been. Further investigation revealed that the emitter had been deliberately turned backward (facing inward), shown in Figure 2, which had the same effect as the emitter being blocked by ice or mud, thereby disabling the Automatic Emergency Braking system (AEB). To cover for this the fault codes were routinely purged prior to the truck being brought in for its preventative maintenance cycles to hide this from fleet operations.

TMC continues to champion the role that ­proper maintenance practices play in the successful widespread adoptions of ADAS technologies throughout the industry, but more subject matter experts and fleet maintenance man­agement leaders are needed. S.18 Automated Vehicle Task Force Chairman Ananda Pandy, technical specialist — ADAS and Autonomy, ZF TRW, put it best: “I encourage people to come to TMC where you come to interact with everyone in the industry. It’s a great opportunity to get involved with task forces and help to shape recommended practices.”

For more information on how you can lend your expertise and experiences to TMC’s Study Groups and Task Forces, visit tmc.trucking.org or contact TMC Technical Director Jack Legler — email: jlegler@trucking.org.

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