Innovations and Solutions Spotlighted at TMC Expo

From virtual reality training to aerodynamic inventions and a crucial fentanyl awareness campaign, the TMC Annual Meeting showcased industry-leading innovations and impactful social initiatives.

Innovations and Solutions Spotlighted at TMC Expo

By Bianca Prieto | Editor, The Inside Lane

NEW ORLEANS - The TMC's Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition in New Orleans recently highlighted significant advancements and efficiencies in the transportation industry, drawing over 5,100 attendees.

Hundreds of vendors showcased their latest and greatest, from the debut of the new Volvo VNL tractor to new rear-facing backup cameras by Phillips Industries.

For the first time in over three decades, TMC appointed a woman as its chairman. Amanda Schuier takes the helm as the 65th chairman, committing to amplify member engagement and focusing on the diesel technician shortage, heralding a new era in TMC leadership.

The exhibition also spotlighted the industry's commitment to safety and social responsibility, including a campaign against the fentanyl crisis and a significant investment of approximately $14 billion annually in safety technology to enhance road safety.

Bianca Prieto, editor of The Inside Lane, captured these aspects, highlighting the event's role in showcasing the evolving landscape of the transportation industry. Keep reading to find out more.

👓 VR's Role in the Fleet Industry

We know that virtual reality goggles are popular in the gaming and entertainment realm, so when I saw someone using a set on the floor show it made me do a double take.

Dan Slauenwhite demonstrates the use of VR goggles at TMC.

What could those be used for as it relates to fleets? I wandered over to find out.

A man wearing the goggles was poking the air, jabbing at nothingness. Occasionally he’d apologize for how strange it looked. He was setting up the experience that could only be seen with the specialty glasses.

When I placed them on my head and “tightened the back like a hard hat,” I was thrown into what felt like a sci-fi movie scene — a futuristic display popped up out of nowhere. The glasses were transparent so I could still see everything around me. Another dimension had popped up.

Looking left I could see a 3D image of a luxury car and when I walked closer to the virtual vehicle, it was as if walking up to an actual car.

And here's where it gets even cooler. With just a virtual "touch" of a button (now I was the one jabbing the air), I was able to pop open the car doors and, well, not exactly walk but more like phase right into the car. It was as if I'd teleported inside.

Curious about how this type of tech could be a game-changer for fleets, I chatted with Dan Slauenwhite from the Learning Network, who was showing me the ropes in this VR-created world.

Slauenwhite laid it out pretty straightforwardly: these VR glasses are a stellar teaching tool. They mean you can run through training sessions without having to take a vehicle out of commission. It makes training more accessible, he said.

Sure, getting your hands dirty on a real car is unbeatable for learning. But being able to pop on a headset and check out a 3D model of a vehicle without sidelining it? That's a pretty big win for efficiency and learning flexibility. While the tech is still developing, early adopters will find it useful.

News from TMC

📉 Trucking Costs Dip 1.4%, Efficiency Credited

Decisiv's presentation at TMC shows trucking operational costs down by 1.4%, despite labor cost increases. Savings from cheaper parts, newer trucks, and supply chain improvements offset costs. It noted the midwest and Canada as cheaper for repairs than the west U.S., highlighting service shop efficiency's role in cost management. - Read more at CCJ Digital

⚡Fuel Efficiency Through Innovation

Tucked away near the back of the giant showroom, I found Garth Magee, an inventor holding his ground with more than 20 patents to his name and a gadget he swears by for boosting fuel efficiency through aerodynamics - Null Winds.

Garth Magee, inventor of Null Winds, at this booth at TMC.

Armed with toy trucks to make his point, he walked me through axle pressure, forward motion, wind speed and mixed in a healthy dose of excitement to explain how his cutting-edge drag-reduction panels for open-wheeled vehicles could tackle the big problem of fuel efficiency. He’s put his patented tech through its paces on everything from box trucks and 18-wheelers to bicycles.

“It works,” Magee assured, with a tinge of wishful thinking about having made the discovery sooner. Hailing from California, his brainchild, the upper wheel deflectors, are a breeze to slap on and won’t break the bank.

Seeing an underdog like Magee in the mix with the big players was pretty cool in my book.

News from TMC

🚛 Amanda Schuier Leads TMC into Future

Amanda Schuier was named the 65th chairman of the TMC, and the first woman in this role since 1988, continuing a four-generation family legacy in trucking. She plans to enhance member engagement and tackle industry challenges like the diesel technician shortage. She introduced an initiative, "Chats with the Chairman," promoting education and leadership within TMC. - Read more in Transport Topics

💊Trucks Drive Anti-Fentanyl Message

There were engines, tires, batteries, breaks - all the parts that make up the vehicles were on display. And of course, there were trucks. But situated near the entrance was a trailer, owned by Bulldog Hiway Express, which was being wrapped with an important message against fentanyl use.

Bulldog Hiway Express truck wrapped in a fentanyl awareness message.

Along the length of both sides of the trailer in bold blue and white letters a message read “One Pill Can Kill.” The joint effort between Trucking Cares Foundation (TCF), Facing Fentanyl Now, and Lowen Color Graphics in Hutchinson, Kansas, aims to make a mark on the bleak topic of fentanyl overdoses.

“The ATA family and trucking at large is determined to deliver positive awareness to the growing fentanyl crisis in America,” TCF Chairman Phil Byrd, president and CEO of Bulldog Hiway Express said. “Our citizens, employees, and families are being devastated by this evil drug and I'm proud that TCF has decided to get involved in this critical need.”

Lowen is offering a steep discount for those who want their trucks wrapped in the important messaging.

Every day more than 150 people die from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adding fentanyl testing to drivers' drug testing is being considered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Editor's Note: If you or someone close to you needs help for a substance use disorder, talk to your doctor or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

News from TMC

🛡️Trucking's $14B Safety Tech Leap

The trucking industry now invests about $14 billion annually in safety technology and training, significantly up from $9.8 billion in 2014, according to an American Trucking Association (ATA) report. This commitment aims to boost road safety and comply with regulations. Dan Horvath, ATA's senior VP of regulatory affairs and safety policy, highlighted the crucial role of driver-assist technologies in protecting drivers, underscoring the sector's dedication to leveraging technology for safer roads. -Read more in Transport Topics

Photos from the TMC's Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition in New Orleans, March 4-6, 2024

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