The evolution of trucks and truck maintenance is apparent in key highlights on the agenda for the upcoming annual meeting of the Technology & Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations.
For one, a new Class 8 electric truck is set to be unveiled during the show, set to take place March 18-21 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. In addition, educational sessions on topics including safety and “smart” technology as well as an advanced technology pavilion are on tap at what is officially called the group’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition. The theme of this year’s show, Beyond the Frontier of Maintenance, is a reflection of new challenges that maintenance executives are facing.
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“Much of what TMC’s volunteer study groups and task forces are covering these days goes beyond our traditional understanding of vehicle maintenance,” Robert Braswell, executive director of TMC, told Transport Topics, noting that the council last year expanded into automated vehicles and electric trucks with a new study group that expects to add task forces in Atlanta. “TMC is more than just a trade show; it is an organization well-suited to collaborative efforts in finding solutions to equipment challenges.”
Among product announcements, The Lion Electric Co. is slated to introduce its all-electric Class 8 truck during a March 19 news conference. That morning, company president Marc Bédard will serve as the keynote speaker for the meeting’s kickoff breakfast. Braswell noted that Lion is a new member of TMC.
About 5,000 attendees and roughly 400 exhibitors are expected at the show, which is TMC’s largest annual gathering.
March 18 is designated as Task Force Day, during which TMC’s more than 100 task forces meet to tackle and develop standards and recommended practices in areas ranging from wheel-end thermal events to emerging onboard technologies. This first day concludes with TMC’s Town Meeting and Fleet Operators Forum, where attendees can discuss and resolve trucking equipment issues. “The council will present all of the outstanding information associated with TMC’s study groups, recommended practices, exhibits and a federal regulatory report provided by the ATA,” said Jeff Harris, TMC’s general chairman and treasurer.
The exhibit hall floor also will open on March 18, including a special pavilion for manufacturers and/or suppliers of advanced technology.
“You can experience all of the latest and greatest in equipment and technology as well as spend valuable face time with each of the vendors and resident experts in the trucking industry,” Harris said.
The four-day meeting also is filled with educational sessions covering a variety of areas in trucking equipment, maintenance and technology.
“This year, we have more than 10 educational sessions that range from implementing and maintaining active safety systems to smart trailers,” Harris said.
The educational sessions “are a good balance of today, tomorrow and the far horizon,” added Braswell, who noted that developing next-generation workforce strategies is leading TMC into new areas, such as gamification and augmented reality.
There will also be sessions on strategies for successful fleet tire testing as well as spec’ing cabs and sleepers for driver comfort and safety, among others, Braswell said.
For attendees who want to “help shape the long-term future,” Braswell noted there will be sessions on electric vehicle standardization and next-generation multivoltage electrical systems. TMC, in its meeting materials, described the systems to be discussed on a session on smart trailers as “trucking’s next information superhighway.”
In addition, the meeting will feature a symposium co-sponsored by TMC and SAE International titled, “The Coming Impact of the New 21st Century Truck Partnership Initiative.” The session will address how “government agencies are working together to take a new approach to the ongoing challenges of commercial vehicle safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness,” the meeting program says.
As is customary at every TMC annual meeting, the council will welcome a new general chairman and treasurer for a one-year term.
Harris, vice president of maintenance with USA Truck Inc., will be succeeded by Kenneth Calhoun, fleet optimization manager with Altec Industries. The transition will take place during the annual reception and banquet the evening of March 20. TMC’s other officers also will be installed for 2019-2020.
TMC will also announce the recipients of several honors, including its highest accolade — the Silver Spark Plug, which recognizes professional excellence in commercial vehicle maintenance.
In addition, the TMC of Tomorrow program will celebrate the graduation of its first class. “This is the program where we develop the next generation of council leaders,” Braswell said.