February 9, 2018 1:45 PM, EST

Technology of Tomorrow to Be Key Topic at TMC Annual Meeting

Industry Leaders Also to Discuss Last-Mile Delivery's Impact on Fleet-Maintenance Management
TMC 2017 exhibit floorA view of the exhibit floor during TMC 2017 in Nashville, Tenn. This year's annual meeting will be in Atlanta. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

Future advancements in the trucking industry will be at the forefront of the Technology & Maintenance Council’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition set for early next month.

This year’s meeting, scheduled for March 5-8, will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.


“The coming impact of automated vehicle technology, for example, is of great interest — particularly, how the pending changes will impact vehicle specification and maintenance, as well as ownership of vehicle data and the vehicle itself,” TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell said. TMC is a council of American Trucking Associations.

Also of interest is how emerging last-mile delivery services are transforming fleet-maintenance management, he said.

“It’s not just about traditional vehicles anymore, as drones, quadcopters, autonomous pods and bicycles/tricycles are all part of the last-mile delivery solution,” Braswell said.

The meeting will “explore how these new modes will be maintained and what new employee skills will be required,” he added.

The meeting is shaping up to be the council’s largest in terms of attendance, number of exhibitors and exhibit space, Braswell said. More than 400 exhibitors will showcase their wares across 450,000 square feet, an increase of 100,000 square feet from last year, he said, noting TMC is expecting about 5,000 attendees.

More than 100 task forces will meet March 5 to develop recommended practices covering a range of subjects. TMC is balloting 22 new or revised RPs in advance of the annual meeting, Braswell said.

“We also have eight new task forces that will tackle topics such as heavy-duty collision repair guidelines, guidelines for diesel particulate filter cleaning, disc and drum integration issues, smoke detection guidelines, rim flange wear, and demountable tire shop tools and procedures,” he said.

The kickoff breakfast March 6 will feature a presentation from Carlton Rose, president of global fleet maintenance and engineering for UPS Inc. Rose will share his insights on the future of vehicle maintenance and how new vehicle designs, powertrains and delivery modes and methods will impact it, Braswell said.

On March 7, keynote speaker Thomas Nichols, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, will address the importance of industry knowledge and expertise from groups such as TMC, Braswell said.

The four-day meeting geared to fleet management also is filled with technical and study group sessions.

A Freightliner Cascadia truck with a Detroit DD15 engine on display during TMC 2017 (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

“An interesting topic is the evolving career pathway for today’s fleet maintenance executives,” Braswell said. “One of our technical sessions will a feature a panel of experts discussing what fleet professionals should expect in the coming years and what different skills and strategies they need to employ to remain effective for the beginning, middle and end of their careers.”

Braswell said TMC’s electrical study group will present a session on heavy-duty vehicle electrification and how hybrid-electric and all-electric technologies will change fleet maintenance operations.

Meanwhile, TMC’s tire and wheel study group will educate attendees on complaint, cause and correction issues based on the update of its “Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide and User’s Guide to Wheels and Rims.”

“But they’ll do it in a fun, engaging game-show format which has proven to be popular with our audiences,” he said.

Another highlight of TMC’s largest annual gathering is welcoming a new council chairman for a one-year term.

Glen McDonald of Ozark Motor Lines is concluding his year as TMC’s general chairman. He will be succeeded by Jeff Harris, vice president of maintenance at USA Truck. The transition will occur during the annual reception and banquet March 7 at the Georgia Aquarium, Braswell said.

This event also includes various honors and awards. TMC will announce the newest recipients of several honors including its highest accolade — the Silver Spark Plug — as well its recognized associate awards, he said. Others are the excellence in maintenance supervision award and volunteer recognition honors for outstanding service in mentoring, membership recruitment and standards-development activity.

“Also worthy of note are the volunteers for our new ‘TMC of Tomorrow’ program, for which we have two ‘classes’ studying TMC procedures and practices with the goal of accepting leadership roles in the council’s study groups and task forces,” Braswell said.

The program is designed for those with less than five years of industry experience.