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Shell Rotella has introduced a line of heavy-duty greases for trucks, tractors and construction equipment.

Shell Rotella HD Grease is a premium multi-purpose grease for on and off-road vehicle applications with the versatility for industrial equipment use. It contains the company’s latest performance additives formulated to provide excellent high-temperature oxidation performance, corrosion resistance and extreme-pressure and anti-wear protection. The grease is suitable for bearings operating at high temperatures and under load such as disc-brake-equipped wheel bearings.

Shell Rotella SD Grease is a high-performance high-temperature grease for vehicle and equipment lubrication. Formulated with moly solid lubricant (molybdenum disulfide), the grease is designed for lubrication of vehicles and equipment in demanding applications that are subjected to high shock loads where rapid starts and stops may occur, impacting chassis points, sliding pins, trailer hitches and axle splines.

Shell Rotella MP Grease is designed for multipurpose lubrication of on- and off-road vehicles and equipment for general chassis, springs, pivot points, low-speed bearings (not disc-brake wheel bearings) and equipment such as mowers, trailers, lifts and loader buckets. The multipurpose extreme-pressure grease is based on a blend of high-viscosity index mineral oils and a lithium hydroxystreate soap thickener that contains extreme-pressure and other additives formulated to enhance performance in a wide range of applications.

Shell Rotella ET Grease is designed for the lubrication of most on- and off-road vehicles and equipment. The lithium-complex grease is based on high-viscosity mineral oils and polymers to facilitate improved adhesion and retention on exposed surfaces such as fifth-wheel plate pivots, wheel bearings, springs, trailers, open pivot joints and weather-exposed equipment. The grease is extremely tacky, water-resistant and suitable for high temperatures. It contains antioxidants and extreme-pressure and wear-preventive additives, as well as rust inhibitors for added service life and corrosion protection.

Shell Rotella, www.rotella.shell.com

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Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has extended Detroit Connect Analytics to additional truck models. The service can also be added to vehicles in the aftermarket.

Analytics is now available to order as a new truck option or in the aftermarket on the new Freightliner Cascadia, original Cascadia and Western Star 5700 truck models spec’d with Detroit engines. Detroit Connect Analytics automatically translates fuel consumption and safety data into interactive and easy-to-understand reports for vehicle and fleet performance.

“We understand data is essential to making smart business decisions in todays connected world, but the abundance of data can be time consuming for our customers to study and put into action in their fleets,” said Jason Krajewski, director of connectivity for DTNA. “Expanding the services to other models and to the aftermarket allows fleet managers to spend less time crunching numbers and more time focusing on vehicle and driver performance across their fleet.”

Depending on the truck model, customers can opt for either Fuel Performance reports, Safety Reporting or Fuel Performance and Safety Reporting. Through a dedicated section of the Detroit Connect portal, customers will have access to the performance data for a single vehicle and an entire fleet.

Fuel Performance reports interpret a variety of factors that impact fuel economy such as engine speed, idle time, cruise control usage, engine power, integrated powertrain performance and driver interaction. The automated reports highlight driving behaviors that are affecting that performance.

Safety Reporting collects data from events such as collision mitigation braking, lane departure warnings and distance violations from the safety system on the vehicle, such as Detroit Assurance, and converts it into Safety Reports. These reports visualize the events across their fleet and for specific trips or vehicles, the company says. Onboard sensors capture events 15 seconds before to 15 seconds after they occur.

“Our experts have developed algorithms that transform data into deep, actionable insights that can have a significant impact on uptime and the bottom line,” added Krajewski.

For the original Freightliner Cascadia and Wester Star 5700, Detroit Connect Analytics is delivered through the Zonar VTHU platform.

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Continental, a global supplier of systems, components, and tires to automobile and truck manufacturers, and manufacturer of the VDO RoadLog Electronic Logging Device (ELD), announced that its VDO RoadLog Office Solo ELD software is now compatible with Apple computers and laptops.

VDO RoadLog Solo customers can now perform USB key synchronization on modern Apple computers and laptops having macOS Sierra version 10.12 or higher, Apple Computer’s Mac OS X operating system for Macintosh desktop, laptop, and server computers. The customer’s computer or laptop must also have an available USB port and broadband internet access.

VDO RoadLog Office Advanced and Premium continue to be available on almost any machine running the latest version of a major web browser with internet access.

More information about the VDO RoadLog Office Solo ELD software can be found at: www.vdoroadlog.com

VDO RoadLog was one of the first stand-alone ELDs offered in North America and is offered without monthly fees for basic services. For owner operators and fleets who want advanced features, VDO RoadLog ELD Plus adds cellular connectivity for text-based messaging, driver monitoring, remote load and trip management, and fleet management capabilities for a monthly fee per vehicle.

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CCJ‘s Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.

Spot market freight volume, rates slipped again in November: Spot market freight volume in November slipped 2.5 percent from October and a whopping 24 percent year over year from November 2017, according to loadboard operator DAT.

Reefer was the lone stand out, with the segment’s freight availability climbing 8 percent from October.

However, DAT notes, volumes and rates are likely to rebound in December. “Spot market volumes and rates are likely to rise through December, as e-commerce deliveries continue to ramp up,” said DAT market analyst Peggy Dorf. “Retailers are offering nearly unlimited free shipping to online customers during the holiday season, boosting orders and adding to pressure on freight transportation and logistics.”

Cass calls November a ‘month of high volatility,” as freight shipments and expenditures dip: Both freight shipments and expenditures dipped in November from October, according to Cass’ monthly Freight Index Report. However, both were up year over year compared to a strong November 2017.  Cass called November “a month of high volatility” due to “growing uncertainty” over the U.S. and global economies.

Shipments dipped 5.1 percent from October, while expenditures fell 2.4 percent. Year over year, shipments were up six-tenths of a percent, and expenditures were up 8.4 percent, mostly likely due to the rate hikes seen this year.

“The hard data of physical goods flow, which is uninfluenced by human emotion, confirms that people are still making things, shipping things, and buying / consuming things. Although not at the scorching pace attained earlier this year, expansion is still taking place at an above average
pace,” the firm said in its report.

“The current level of volume and pricing growth is suggesting that, while it’s still growing, the
U.S. economy is simply not growing at the rate it was and that it may have reached its short-term expansion limit.”

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Drivers hauling livestock and insects can continue to run on paper logs — and without an electronic logging device — “until further notice,” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Thursday in an update on its website.

FMCSA also noted on its website that livestock transporters do not need to carry documentation about this exemption.

The move by the agency is intended to remove the lingering uncertainty surrounding whether livestock haulers need to adopt an ELD or not.

Congress, as part of a budget package for the 2018 fiscal year, exempted drivers hauling livestock and insects from ELD compliance through Sept. 30. They then extended that through Dec. 7 with a short-term, stopgap spending measure meant to ward off a government shutdown. The deadline was then moved again, to Dec. 21, when lawmakers pushed through another brief spending bill.

There’s uncertainty over whether Congress and President Trump can agree to a deal to fund the government for the 2019 fiscal year and whether that deal will include an extension of the ELD waiver for livestock and insect haulers. There were also rumors circulating on social media outlets that some roadside inspectors had been incorrectly telling livestock haulers they needed an ELD, though it’s unclear if any citations have been issued.

Due to these issues, FMCSA is allowing livestock haulers to continue to run on paper logs until the issue is sorted out long term.

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LinkeDrive has created new daily email reports that show drivers a summary of their fuel performance.

Jamie Hagen, owner of Hell Bent Express, has a fleet of three — and soon to be four — trucks leased to Viessman Trucking, a liquid bulk hauler in Gary, SD.

To help the business grow, Hagen decided to use PedalCoach, a real-time driver fuel efficiency training application from LinkeDrive. The app has helped its drivers maximize fuel savings.

The app runs on smart devices attached to the truck dashes with a wired connection to the diagnostics ports below.

Drivers know the optimal amount of fuel input at any given moment from the user interface of PedalCoach. A digital gauge has a needle that represents the flow rate of fuel. The bottom third of the gauge’s arc is a fuel target, a green zone, with yellow and red zones in the upper two-thirds.

Drivers learn quickly how to keep the needle in the green by judiciously applying throttle and shifting progressively. Drivers get a fuel efficiency score on a scale of 100 at the end of their trip, he says. Hagen uses a web portal daily to monitor how the other drivers in the fleet are performing.

Fleets in the food tanker industry typically average between 6 and 7 mpg, he says. Hell Bent Express averages more than 8 and sometimes crests 9 mpg. Hagen estimates the annual fuel savings are thousands per vehicle.

“Fuel savings are everything to me,” he says. “They have allowed me to expand.”

In addition to the PedalCoach score, LinkeDrive has daily and monthly reports that are automatically emailed to drivers. The company uses machine learning to create the reports to communicate to drivers the right things at the right times to help improve fuel efficiency, says Jeff Baer, chief executive of LinkeDrive.

“We’ve built some automations and done a lot of research in behavioral psychology,” he says.

Vnomics offers an in-cab platform, TrueFuel, that gives drivers audible tones when they exceed thresholds of fuel-efficient behaviors for speeding, idling and engine control (RPMs).

Drivers can use the TrueFuel mobile app from Vnomics to chart their progress towards achieving a fuel incentive from their fleets.

TrueFuel calculates the fuel potential of each vehicle, which is the optimal amount of fuel required to do the work at any given time. By knowing the fuel potential, True Fuel scores drivers with a fair and transparent measure of individual fuel efficiency that is independent of vehicle, load and route.

After every trip, the system tells drivers a fuel efficiency score on a scale of 100. When tying fuel savings to an incentive program, “drivers want more insight than by memory,” says Bob Magnant, Vnomics’ vice president of product management and strategy. A TrueFuel mobile app lets drivers track their progress towards a fleet fuel incentive by visually conveying feedback to drivers.

Drivers can use the app to see if they are on pace to hitting the fleet’s efficiency target and view a detailed trip-by-trip log.

To help fleets create fuel efficiency targets and incentives, Vnomics establishes a baseline by measuring the fuel efficiency of a group of drivers before and after they receive in-cab coaching from TrueFuel.

A fleet with five percent fuel waste before coaching and a two percent waste after coaching, for instance, might decide to set aside a portion of its projected three percent fuel savings for an incentive, he says.

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Steven Brain, middle, awarded the Rush Skills Tech Rode’s top prize by Rusty Rush and NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer.

Steven Brain, a medium-duty technician at Rush Truck Center’s Dallas facility, was awarded the top prize at the 13th annual Rush Enterprises Tech Skills Rodeo on Tuesday.

Brain grew up working on cars with his father, who was an automotive enthusiast and electrical engineer. He says it was those experiences that led him into a career working as a commercial truck technician and, Tuesday, probably helped push him all the way to winning his first overall Rush Enterprises’ Tech Skills Rodeo grand championship.

Brain earned first prize winner in the company’s Hino Medium Duty Division and was named the 2018 Rodeo Medium Duty Champion before being honored with the overall title.

“I’ve been very fortunate in what I do for a living comes very natural to me,” Brain said after his huge win. “I think it’s a God-given gift and I’ve done well because of that.”

Now in his tenth year with Rush Enterprises (and 14th year as a tech), Brain says this was the seventh time he has competed at the Rodeo. Previous experiences in the Hino division, which he called his “bread and butter,” had netted category wins but no overall honors.

After solving the final bug “in the last 30 seconds” of the hands-on competition Brain said he felt good entering Tuesday’s final round but acknowledged “I didn’t realize I had done this well.”

In winning the Rush Truck Center top honor Tuesday, Brain earned $18,470 in cash and prizes. Overall, nearly four dozen Rush technicians, parts professionals, aftermarket parts sales and new truck sales representatives took home more than $285,000 in cash and prizes at the 2018 Tech Skills Rodeo, an all-time event record.

Though Brain was Tuesday’s top winner, he wasn’t the only technician to leave San Antonio on a positive note. Previous overall grand champion Jason Swann, also of Dallas, earned the top Heavy Duty Technician honor at Tuesday’s event (netting $14,470), while Quintin Likely of the Rush Truck Center – Columbus, Ga., store was named the company’s top parts man Michael Box from the Lubbock, Texas, store earned the top aftermarket sales rep honor.

Reserve champions were Gary Gates (Rush Truck Centers – Houston) in Aftermarket, Eric Hauser (Rush Truck Centers – Fontana, Calif.) in Parts, Johnny Mendez (Rush Truck Centers – San Antonio) in Medium Duty and Nicholas Misch (Rush Truck Centers – San Antonio) in Heavy Duty.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General announced last week that it will investigate concerns surrounding the agency’s use of research by Tennessee Tech University. The school last year produced a study claiming that gliders do not produce greater emissions of greenhouse gases or particulate matter than new trucks.

However, officials from the university have since determined that the study was flawed, and that EPA should ignore its conclusions, particularly as the agency evaluates whether to roll back Obama-era emissions regulations that limit the manufacturing of glider kit trucks.

By opening this investigation, announced Dec. 3 by EPA, the agency’s inspector general now has two active investigations into studies regarding glider kit emissions.

EPA’s OIG in September announced it was investigating a competing study, performed by EPA, that concluded that gliders do produce emissions of GHG, NOx and particulate matter at greater levels than new engines equipped with emissions control components. However, that study came under scrutiny over alleged improper contact between EPA researchers and representatives from Volvo Trucks. Volvo is a proponent of limiting production of glider kit trucks, as are Daimler Trucks and Cummins.

The inquiry into the Tennessee Tech study was requested by four members of the U.S. House in October. They asked the EPA’s OIG to launch an investigation into how and why the study was used in a 2017 proposal by EPA that sought to rescind regulations that cap glider kit manufacturers to building just 300 glider kits annually. The EPA has, for now, tabled that proposal, and the annual 300-truck limit, which took effect in January of this year, remains in place.

The lawmakers cited the university’s financial relationship with Fitzgerald Glider Kits as a key reason for the inquiry.

Fitzgerald, whose headquarters is located about 40 miles from TTU, is the country’s largest glider kit manufacturer and a major donor to Tennessee Tech. The company helped fund construction of a new research facility at the college.

Fitzgerald paid $70,000 to TTU to complete the study. It isn’t uncommon for companies to pay colleges to perform research, but the lawmakers and faculty members cited other contributions from Fitzgerald to the university as creating a conflict of interest.

Fitzgerald has maintained that it did not sway the study’s results. The company told Overdrive this year that it “has every confidence in the integrity of the Tennessee Tech study and the personnel who conducted it. The results were not predetermined. Fitzgerald Glider Kits employees had no involvement in the monitoring or testing performed in connection with the study, nor were they involved in compiling the test data.”

Trudy Harper, TTU Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, said in an Oct. 23 letter to EPA that the school’s review “determined that the data does not support the statement” that remanufactured engines used by Fitzgerald in its glider builds produce the same or fewer emissions than new engines.

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Nationwide, one of the largest insurance organizations in the United States, announced a partnership with Lytx to offer its DriveCam safety program to long-haul trucking companies. With fatalities up nearly 5 percent in 2018 and distracted driving on the rise, Nationwide says the key to creating a safer driving environment is to instill safer driving habits.

Nationwide will provide fleets with a three-month paid subscription for the Lytx DriveCam safety program and the Lytx Fleet Tracking program enhancement.

“This partnership exemplifies our commitment to safety and innovation by leveraging technology to protect business owners and their employees,” said Gary Flaherty, vice president of commercial auto for excess and surplus specialty at Nationwide. “We’re confident that providing our members with solutions like the Lytx DriveCam program will help our members improve safety on the roadways by improving the driving standards within their fleets.”

The Lytx DriveCam safety program delivers video and telematics capabilities that combine machine vision and artificial intelligence designed specifically for the transportation industry with video-based driver coaching to improve driving habits to help reduce risk. The windshield-mounted DriveCam event recorder collects driving data inside and outside the vehicle and works to distinguish normal driving from driving that could be risky, such as hard braking, sudden acceleration, swerving, cornering and excessive speed.

“We’re delighted to be chosen by Nationwide’s excess and surplus specialty commercial auto team to partner with them in supporting their insured fleets to reduce claims, and keep their drivers, cargo and our roadways even safer,” said Eliot Feldstein, Lytx senior vice president, Corporate and Business Development.

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