The trucking space looks attractive in 2021, given its stable economic position with more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the U.S. moving by truck, consistent job growth expectancy, and the promises made to boost infrastructure spending in the United States.
Earlier this month our PRECO team went to India to showcase at this year’s International Mining & Machinery Exhibition (IMME). The exhibition is a four-day event held at the New Town Eco Park in Kolkata, India, with over 300 exhibitors, 6,000-plus business visitors, and over 11 countries representing including Australia, China, and Italy.
Many fleet managers like the idea of upgrading the safety technology on their fleet. The problem is they feel there is no time to install new technology. Few managers have the luxury of pulling a truck out of service to retrofit it with new gear. If you’re a big shop with a 24/7 garage, it’s less of a problem, but if you’re running an 8-hour garage schedule, it’s hard to fit in any non-essential work. With some foresight and planning though, many fleet managers may find that there is actually ample time to make these upgrades.
A Brief History
Founded in 1947, PRECO Electronics has become a worldwide leader in heavy-duty safety innovation. PRECO patented the world’s first electronic backup alarm as a result of watching utility employees on dam sites. Ed Peterson, PRECO’s founder, noticed that accidents were frequently happening while heavy equipment was operating in reverse. The flaggers used at the time weren’t safe because the equipment blind spots were too massive.
On-the-job injuries and fatalities are rarely caused by workplace conditions alone. Rather, the vast majority of accidents happen as a result of unsafe work behaviors, usually due to complacency and workers just “going through the motions.” The good news is, behaviors can change. Molding those behaviors to follow the belief that safety is a value not a priority (priorities can shift, after all) is an essential component to cultivating a safety-driven culture.
If we think of the economy like the tide, we know that for every flow there is an ebb. Although we can’t predict the size or timing of each ebb and flow, we are better prepared to weather financial ups and downs when we anticipate both and plan accordingly.
When the economy tightens, we might live without some personal luxuries. Maybe we give up dining out, have staycations instead of vacations, and rent movies instead of going to the theater. We might shop for lower-cost services that still provide the necessities to get our must-dos done right. In business, some companies might even go through hiring freezes or discontinue low-selling products or services. Pulling back on expenditures makes sense (and dollars and cents) when the economy ebbs. Except, that is, when it comes to safety.
There is a safety arms race in progress. Advances in collision mitigation technology are being undermined by advances in personal technology that distract heavy-duty operators and people on the ground from noticing potentially dangerous situations.
Who knows what will happen in 2017, but we are hopeful that by the end of the year we will be closer to the time when man and machine are able to ensure every worker makes it home safely. When they do, we might be able to put a stop to—or at least slow down—the safety arms race.
Since mining companies gain efficiency by moving more tonnage with fewer but larger vehicles, the trend leads toward ever-larger dozers, trucks, draglines and shovels. But the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind zones around them; and these blind zones can lead to potentially catastrophic accidents.
Larger Vehicles Can Mean More Danger
The blind zones around mining equipment can be huge: Sean Martell, PRECO’s mining and construction sales manager, says that when operating large haul trucks, drivers can lose visibility to a hazard when the person or object is as far away as 150 feet from the rear of these massive machines. That’s half a football field.
In the most heavy-duty industry of them all—the military—saving lives reigns supreme and the US Army is currently working on integrating existing advanced technologies in order to enhance the safety of the modern soldier.
Improving military fleet capabilities is an ongoing operational priority for the U.S. Army. To protect soldiers and maximize their impact, the Army is making progressive strides toward the introduction of autonomous systems in tactical vehicles in an effort to remove the risk faced by soldiers in extremely hazardous and volatile missions.
Safety measures in the trucking industry mean more than common sense. With a definitive return on investment, they make business sense too. Preventing an accident saves on repair costs, insurance premium increases, legal bills, and a full ledger of other expenses.
Technology is changing the trucking scene—and what it’s like to safely navigate the working life on the road—in both big and small ways. Let’s examine a few new developments up close, and then calculate how they could save you.