Trucking Again Shows It Is a Resilient Industry

The entrance to the exhibit hall floor for TMC 2021 at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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As of September, it has been 18 months since industry members were face-to-face at a Technology & Maintenance Council meeting. This year’s Fall meeting in Cleveland showed, just as the trucking industry did last year, how resilient it is.

The focus of the event, as always, was on forward-looking incentives as companies premiere their products and services to better accommodate fleet providers. It was also a time where auto technicians compete with knowledge and skill at the annual TMCSuperTech.

There was no shortage of information provided through the array of study groups held during the conference.


Namely, the thoughts on the future of braking technology remained an issue foremost on the minds of many of the attendees and speakers. Arguably, the intersection of technology and equipment is most evident when seen through the spectrum of brake-related equipment. The ramifications of ADAS, greenhouse gas emission regulations — and let’s not get started on brake dust — are becoming clearer as the industry puts its collective head around what is coming in the next decade.

I was fortunate enough to get some detail on where brake technology is headed in the future with Bendix Vice President of Engineering and R&D Richard Beyer. His enthusiasm about the upcoming advances was palpable during our conversation as well as the study group where he spoke about the path ahead.

Also, any challenge will bring in a new generation to face those uncertainties. Trade schools are well aware of those opportunities for future technicians, as some are sweetening the pot with scholarships and other incentives to attract young talent and others that are looking for a new career path.

In addition, during the TMC Fall meeting, I had the chance to speak with TMC Chairman Stacy Earnhardt about the search for tech talent and what the industry and groups like TMC are doing to raise awareness of the opportunities that are out there for prospective students and others interested in a career in auto technology.

The conversation remained optimistic; however, he acknowledged there is still more work to be done in inspiring the next generation of techs. You’ll have a chance to hear more of our discussion, along with my conversation with Beyer, in upcoming episodes of our podcast, RoadSigns, later this month.

Speaking of the future, we at Calibrate plan to dive deep into the future of braking as well as all things technical in the next year. As for TMC, it was nice to be face-to-face with so many knowledgeable people. The overflow of ideas and concepts from the industry was refreshing to hear in person versus a virtual backdrop last year. As we move to a new normal, may the equipment and parts sector of the trucking industry continue to be as resilient in recovery as it was in our lockdown.


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