April 11, 2011 5:45 AM, EDT

Mid-America Trucking Show Attracts More Visitors, Vendors

Editor’s Note: Click here to see this week’s cartoon, ‘Sold Out at MATS’

By Jonathan S. Reiskin, Associate News Editor

This story appears in the April 11 print edition of Transport Topics.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 40th Mid-America Trucking Show here grew by more than 7% from 2010 in terms of visitors and exhibitors, but fell short of establishing new records in either category.

North America’s largest annual trucking show was staged March 30-April 2 in 1.2 million square feet at the Kentucky Exposition Center with 1,039 exhibitors showing products to 76,169 visitors, MATS operator Exhibit Management Associates, stated April 7.

The number of visitors in-creased by 7.8% over last year, while the roster of exhibitors expanded by 7.7% from 2010. The MATS records are 1,174 exhibitors in 2008 and 80,291 visitors in 2006.

For the first time since 2008, all heavy-duty North American truck makers had display booths at MATS. Volvo Trucks did not participate last year and Paccar’s Kenworth and Peterbilt did not attend in 2009.

Among major vendors exhibiting, two major component manufacturers introduced higher technology systems, one to lighten the weight of drivetrains, axles and wheel hubs, the other an advanced safety system.

Dana Holding Corp., Maumee, Ohio, presented a new line of “lightweight, one-piece aluminum driveshafts” for the heavy-duty truck market, named the Spicer Diamond Series.

Ralph Polehonki, Dana’s vice president, global engineering, said that the aluminum driveshafts will be up to 100 pounds lighter than “traditional” two-piece steel drive shafts.

“Until today, the commercial vehicle truck industry has been unable to gain the significant weight and efficiency advantages made possible by aluminum drive shafts,” Polehonki said. “Dana developed a process to join industry proven steel U-joints to a robust aluminum tube.”

He said that the Diamond series “meets or exceeds the truck industry’s strength and performance requirements.” He also said the new process of welding the aluminum to steel caused “no intermetallic formation” and that the bimetallic product has the same reliability as all-steel driveshafts.

Polehonki declined to disclose the retail price of the line, which he said will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

Steve Slesinski, Dana’s director of product planning, introduced the Spicer Pro-40 tandem axle, described as a “new family of heavy-duty 40,000-pound tandem axles.”

The axle is more than 120 pounds lighter than the nearest competitive axle and 100 pounds lighter than the current Dana Spicer DS404, a Dana statement said.

Slesinski said that Dana developed the axle for “the majority of line-haul applications.”

He stated that 95.8% of Class 8 tandem distributions are less than 40,000 pounds per axle and said “the majority of professional linehaul, regional haul and city delivery segments are ‘over-spec’d’ and overweight by today’s 40,000-pound tandem axle offerings.”

“Significant fuel economy benefit can create a four-year savings of $685 to $890 [per axle], depending on haul,” Slesinski said.

Dana also presented the Spicer LMSi hub system for commercial tires, an update of its “Low Maintenance System.”

Dana said benefits include “improved retention clamp load for more reliable performance” as well as reducing maintenance and repair times.

Slesinski said that the new system is 20 pounds lighter than “the nearest competitor’s offering” with the standard aluminum hub and had an optional iron hub.

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, Elyria, Ohio, introduced its “Wingman advanced” collision mitigation system.

“Using a radar sensor mounted to the front of the vehicle, Bendix Wingman Advanced delivers both warnings and active interventions to help drivers potentially avoid rear-end collisions or, at least, help reduce their severity,” Bendix said March 31.

“The system provides following distance and stationary object alerts which are always available — whether or not cruise control is engaged,” Bendix stated.

Another vendor, Rand McNally, Skokie, Ill., introduced two truck-specific global positioning system units with several new features, including real-time and predictive traffic features designed to help drivers anticipate where they might encounter road congestion.

The company launched the Intelli-Route TND 510 and 710 models, which succeed the company’s TND 500 and 700 models, respectively. Both have a “virtual dashboard” that displays speed, odometer and sunrise and sunset times.

The devices also feature four multi-stop route-planning screens, two more than the earlier models, allowing drivers to drill down from a map overview to a summary of the day’s stops, or to highway and turn-by-turn views.

The devices can provide real-time traffic updates via a plug-in accessory from navigation data supplier Navteq. The add-on collects data from 98 regions across North America and can be updated with fresh information every 15 minutes. The plug-in retails for $89.99 and includes lifetime traffic updates.

Unique to the TND 710 is a traffic ‘predictor’ that relies on historic congestion patterns in an area to help drivers anticipate potential delays. The data is updated every three months so drivers are working with recent information, said Dave Marsh, vice president of development for Rand McNally.

Among the units’ other new or enhanced features are information on truck-specific interest points such as truck repair, wash facilities and towing services and voice warnings that alert drivers to upcoming sharp curves, speed-limit changes, border crossings or construction zones.

The TND 510, which features a five-inch screen, retails for $349. The TND 710, has a seven-inch screen, will sell for $449.

Staff Writers Joe Howard and Frederick Kiel contributed to this story.