Thursday, November 24, 2005

Don't roll, roll, roll your truck...

eTrucker: Wide single tires may lower rollover risk

One of the study leaders, H.E. "Bill" Knee, said researchers put a tractor-trailer with traditional duals, dynamic sensors and outriggers through a series of tests to emulate three events that lead to rollovers: evasive maneuvers, driving around curves with a constant radius, and running off the road. The same tractor-trailer was re-equipped with singles and a wider slider trailer suspension in various configurations and put through the same paces.

The result? In most cases, new generation single tires and slider suspensions reduced rollover propensity, at least in van operations. In evasive maneuvers, the new-generation combination decreased the maximum trailer roll angle per lateral acceleration ratio by 45 percent, a significant amount, Knee said.


Some anomalies need further investigation, Knee said. For example, a truck equipped with duals coupled to a trailer equipped with singles and a wider slider suspension performed best in the evasive maneuver test. That may have something to do with driver feel from having dual tires on the tractor, Knee said.

My theory would be that the tractor's suspension width did not change and so the wide based singles didn't have much of a positive effect. Now what would be real interesting would be to see a tractor custom built with wider rear suspension attachment points and Super Singles, my hunch is it would perform very well. Of course another theory could be that the tractor suspension/ tread width is a relatively unimportant rollover factor, since the typical turn rollover starts with the trailer tandems tipping and then the trailer pulls the truck over.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

But do they know where the money comes from?

Univ. of Kansas Takes Up Creation Debate

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Creationism and intelligent design are going to be studied at the University of Kansas, but not in the way advocated by opponents of the theory of evolution.

A course being offered next semester by the university religious studies department is titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies."

"The KU faculty has had enough," said Paul Mirecki, department chairman.

"Creationism is mythology," Mirecki said. "Intelligent design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not."

Earlier this month, the state Board of Education adopted new science teaching standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory, defying the view of science groups.

The Universities go out of their way to belittle the folks who ultimately pay the bills and wonder why they can't get any traction in the funding debates. Talk about willful ignorance about how the world works.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

But the FMCSA said it was safe!

Risk Higher for Truckers in the 11th Hour

The crash risk for truck drivers in the last hour of a now legal 11-hour day behind the wheel is more than three times higher than during the first hour, a Penn State research team has found.
For 60 years, federal rules limited truckers to driving 10 consecutive hours. However, in January 2004, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration raised the limit to 11 hours and reaffirmed the change in October this year.
Dr. Paul Jovanis, professor of civil engineering who led the Penn State study, says, "Our analysis of data from three national trucking companies during normal operations in 2004 shows that the crash risk is statistically similar for the first six hours of driving and then increases in significant steps thereafter. The 11th hour has a crash risk more than three times the first hour."
Jovanis notes, "Our findings, using data from 2004 and from the 1980s, establish a consistent pattern of increased crash risk with hours driving, particularly in the 9th, 10th and 11th hours."
In their most recent study, the researchers also found that multi-day driving schedules, over 7 days, were associated with significant crash risk increases similar in magnitude to extended driving time.
In addition, separate analyses of the records of drivers who operate trucks that have sleeping compartments with those that don't have sleeping compartments show that there is a strong association of crash risk and driving time for sleeper operations, especially in the 8th, 10th and 11th hours. Non-sleeper operations associate crash risk with multi-day driving somewhat more strongly than with driving time.
Jovanis says, "Considered as a whole, these results reveal important differences in crash risk associated with the two different types of trucking operations. One tentative conclusion is that the rigors of sleeper operations appear to result in a greater decline in performance at extended driving hours than for comparable non-sleeper operations."
The study was supported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) but represents only the views of the authors.

Amazing that working more hours makes you more tired.....

Monday, November 14, 2005

Interesting tidbits from the Fuel Economy front

Transport News Network (UK): Happy Trucking

A further enhancement of the I-Shift box is Eco-roll. With cruise control selected, if the truck is maintaining the set speed under the effects of gravity, Eco-roll will disengage the drive to the rear bogie allowing the engine revs to drop to tick-over. If power is required, the drive instantly re-engages and revs zip back up. The same happens if the brakes are applied or the set retardation speed is exceeded. The system is designed to save fuel and reduce wear and tear.
The Scania P340 8x4 tested in August had a nine-speed manual box and although it was noticeably slower around our route it did return a route average of 9.21mpg.

The truck tested here, with its 12-speed I-shift box, returned 8.83mpg as an overall average, the lowest sectional figure being 6.98mpg recorded on the testing A339 rural route between Basingstoke and the A34 at Tothill. But 7mpg is not bad in the heavy going and was compensated for by a high of 9.42mpg on the motorway.

So on balance, driving as ever for economy, we achieved better fuel results from a slightly lower powered manual 32-tonner but paid the penalty in terms of journey time; so critical for most tipper operators. But if your drivers are heavy with the right boot, racing to get in that extra load, we believe the evidence is now overwhelmingly in favour of the auto. Recent reports that Summerfield has asked Volvo to lock out the manual override on its I-Shift-equipped trucks speak volumes. In fuel economy terms, this truck's performance at the pumps is among the best we have encountered from an automatic, which must make it a serious contender for consideration.

Just a word about Eco-roll. We had no way here of proving the benefits of this system, but in theory it saves fuel. It takes time to feel comfortable with it because we are all taught never to free wheel in a heavy goods vehicle. Well Eco-roll does not actually take the truck out of gear, it electronically disconnects the drive, allowing the engine revolutions to return to idle. During our test it activated numerous times on long gentle descents - where braking or retardation is required it will not function - so if it contributed to our average fuel consumption figure all well and good. But our jury is out, awaiting more evidence.

I have always daydreamed about replacing the Jake brake with a regen braking system (so the job of holding the truck back is spread over all the wheels rather than just the drive axle(s) and some of the "G-Force" can be recovered for climbing the next hill. Batteries and many other parts of the tech are not ready for prime time yet. But this system, obviously, can be implemented today and there are no energy losses from energy conversion and storage.

Daimler Chrysler: Sustainability

Predictive Cruise Control.
One particularly intelligent means of saving fuel is currently being tested by our researchers in the USA. Back in 2002, they began taking a closer look at the potential of existing cruise control systems in Freightliner’s heavy trucks and tractor vehicles, searching for ways to combine the comfort already provided by electronic systems with fuel-saving control programs. The outcome of their efforts is “Predictive Cruise Control” (PCC), a cruise control system that not only maintains a preset speed, but also regulates the engine by assessing driving conditions ahead and adjusting speed accordingly, delivering significant fuel savings. The benefits are clear on up- and downhill routes, for example. At the beginning of an upgrade, a conventional cruise control system would try to compensate for the truck’s deceleration by boosting engine output to the maximum. Then, on the downgrade the system would have to shift down drastically to prevent the truck from rolling too fast. PCC instead makes optimum use of the truck’s kinetic energy by allowing it to build up momentum before the hill and then, at the top, gearing down even further in anticipation of the truck’s rapid acceleration as it moves downhill. The PCC computer can do all this because it has been fed the topographical data for the route and, thanks to the GPS navigation system, also knows the truck’s precise position. Initial tests have confirmed the research engineers’ estimates: Depending on the specific route, PCC can bring fuel savings of two percent or more.

Hopefully this will come to fruition. of course while you are plotting all the topographical features, why not put speed limits in the system as well. It wouldn't be too much of a reach to do the state/province level even if one didn't go to a road by road system. Many downgrades have much lower speed limits for trucks, perhaps those could be hard coded in.

Fleet Owner:maximizing MPG

“Eight or nine years ago, the thermal efficiency of a heavy-truck diesel engine was around 54%. Now, with the introduction of EGR [exhaust gas recirculation] and Caterpillar's ACERT [advanced combustion emission reduction technology] systems, engine thermal efficiency is down to 40%,” he explains. “That all translates into reduced mpg for heavy trucks.”

According to Routbort, “The main goal of the MET [MorElectric Truck] program is energy security. Today we're importing 53% of our oil; and based on current trends, we'll be importing 68% by 2025. Of the current $540-billion U.S. trade deficit, 22% is for oil expenditures alone. That's a lot of capital going overseas to pay for oil,” he says.

Of the 22-million barrels of oil consumed in the U.S. every day, two-thirds of it, or 13-million barrels a day (b/d) is used for transportation, with trucks burning 8-million b/d in their fuel tanks. DOE trend lines indicate that by 2025, transportation demand for oil will top 18-million b/d, with trucking consuming 12-million b/d.

That's why Routbort is so enthusiastic about the potential benefits of the MET project. “From a global standpoint, the technologies developed in this project can help reduce our reliance on imported oil, contribute to emissions reduction, and from a trucking perspective, position the industry to remain competitive,” he says.

Launched in 2000, the MET program represents a joint effort between DOE and private industry to reduce parasitic loads on heavy truck engines. Caterpillar provided engine technology, mechanical design, electronics, controls and overall system integration; Kenworth supplied a T-2000 Class 8 truck; Emerson offered electric motor and power electronics knowledge; and Engineered Machined Products developed electrically-driven water and oil pumps According to Routbort, the key to the program is the use of electrical power to enable a variety of truck systems to operate independently of the engine. Specifically, the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, brake air compressor, and oil and water pumps on the MET vehicle all operate on electricity. The accessories are powered by a generator inside the flywheel housing, which also serves as the starter motor, along with an auxiliary power unit (APU) and shore power plug-in capability.

Preliminary results indicate a 2% decrease in over-the-road fuel consumption for the MET test vehicle and 6% during engine idling. This means a saving of more than $2,000 annually per truck in fuel and engine maintenance costs.

So one could say, use a "smart" GPS integrated cruise control to anticipate which hills could be "coated" down, the electronic driveline disconnect kicks in at the top of the hills, and the engine cut off, while the Morelectric system keeps the power steering, cooling, HVAC, and air compressor running. Near the bottom of the hill or if the driver applies the brakes the engine is restarted and revved to the appropriate place to pull the next hill or take a downshift. There are a lot of good ideas out there, they just need to be put together into solutions for the industry and society.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Busloads of trouble

San Antonio Express-News:Fatal Bus Fire Raises Accountability Issues
Last month's bus fire that killed 23 elderly nursing home patients who were being evacuated from Houston to escape Hurricane Rita left plenty of blame to go around.
Global Limo Inc. was allowed to continue operations despite the fact that its drivers had been found in violation of federal safety regulations numerous times in the past two years. Gutierrez alone had been stopped by DPS troopers three times in the seven months before the accident, the Washington Post reported.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an arm of the U.S. Transportation Department, also failed in its job to protect the public from unsafe transportation companies.

It is inexcusable that federal agents would allow Global to maintain a satisfactory rating although, media reports revealed, its driver safety record was 97 on a 100-point scale — with 100 being the worst.

After the bus fire, a review of Global's fleet by federal inspectors found 168 violations of federal safety regulations, the majority relating to upkeep of its vehicles, according to the Washington Post. The review prompted federal regulators to shut down the company after it was deemed a hazard to the public.

The U of Wi (Eau Claire) Spectator

The National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the Oct. 16 bus crash that killed five and injured 30 found that two of the six brakes on the bus were out of adjustment.

Under these conditions, Lauren Peduzzi, a spokesperson for the NTSB, said the bus should not have been on the road because it violated the state's Department of Transportation regulations and raised safety issues.

"That would have been enough to place the bus out of service," Peduzzi said. "You never want a bus on the road (in those conditions)."

The NTSB also found the bus driver, Paul Rasmus, 78, of Chippewa Falls, was not wearing his eyeglasses during the crash, despite the requirement on his driver's license.

Even with these findings, however, Peduzzi said there still is not enough evidence to prove these factors could have prevented the crash.

"We have to figure out at what point was the (the truck) visible to the driver and, based on that, how much reaction time he would have had and how long it would have taken him to stop," she said.


It's just sad.

Global Limo had an unlicensed driver at the wheel of a very poorly maintained Bus.

A trucker with a Suspended License (granted it was suspended for a bad check, but the underlying offense 72 in a 55 [if in a commercial vehicle] is a suspension offense for a CDL driver in Indiana) runs off the road and runs along the shoulder for several hundred feet before jackknifing (and claims he wasn't asleep) and is struck by a bus with out of adjustment brakes driven by a guy who isn't wearing his glasses.

Brakes being out of adjustment is a common problem in Air Brakes. Late Model Air Brake Equipped Vehicles are equipped with automatic slack adjusters but those only work when there is a firm application of the brakes, if you are a cautious driver and do not do a lot of panic brake applications (and don't frequently do a "pump down" of the brake system) then they may not be in adjustment when you need them. There's lots of Safety Gear out there but it's only as good as it is maintained.

What happened to the Democrats

Commonweal:Goodbye Catholics

But nothing Dutton did was as influential and far-reaching as his work on a Democratic commission that ran from 1969 to 1972. Better known as the McGovern Commission, for its chairman, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, the twenty-eight-member panel became the vehicle by which a handful of antiwar liberals revolutionized the Democratic Party. Of this group, Dutton emerged as the chief designer and builder. His goal was nothing less than to end the New Deal coalition, the electoral alliance that had supported the party since 1932 around a broad working-class agenda. In its place, Dutton sought to build a “loose peace constituency,” a collection of groups opposed to the Vietnam War and more generally the military-industrial complex. To this end, Dutton recognized that Democrats would need to appeal to three new constituencies-young people, college-educated suburbanites, and feminists-while ceasing to woo two old ones-Catholics and working-class whites. As it turned out, the McGovern Commission became Dutton’s unlikely vehicle for renovating the party’s coalition. He used one proposal to engineer the emerging feminist movement into the Democratic fold. He used other measures to, in effect, help secular, educated elites wrest the party machinery from state and big-city bosses.
As Greenberg concluded about the 2004 election, “The reason for the defection of these more blue-collar Democrats is rooted in their conservative views on cultural issues. Culturally, the defectors differ from other Democrats on abortion, gay marriage, and especially the National Rifle Association, the second biggest area of difference.”

Dutton, though a supporter of his loose peace constituency and the McGovern Commission to the end, harbored few illusions about them. “It might not have been politically shrewd,” he acknowledged to me in two interviews. “What surprised me is that young people didn’t vote until they were thirty-five years old. And black leaders talked a good game [about delivering the black vote], but they didn’t walk a good game.” Dutton, for all his errors in judgment, maintained a refreshing and admirable intellectual honesty. He might have been the shortsighted designer and builder of the modern Democratic Party, but he was hardly one of the bumbling mechanics who run it today.

It'd be nice if someone would drop Thomas Frank a line. The Democrats have long ceased being interested in the plight of working people. When you are convinced that most working people are lazy racist slobs (witness the typical sitcom's male lead) you aren't very motivated to do anything to help them. Of course, with the decline of the middle class we're all going down the tubes eventually. Nobody makes a good living in a subsistence economy, even the rich get poorer eventually. It's just the working stiffs who are feeling the first effects.

Evening in America?

OpinionJournal-Peggy Noonan:A Separate Peace

I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it's a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with "right track" and "wrong track" but missing the number of people who think the answer to "How are things going in America?" is "Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination."
And some--well, I will mention and end with America's elites. Our recent debate about elites has had to do with whether opposition to Harriet Miers is elitist, but I don't think that's our elites' problem.

This is. Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."

You're a lobbyist or a senator or a cabinet chief, you're an editor at a paper or a green-room schmoozer, you're a doctor or lawyer or Indian chief, and you're making your life a little fortress. That's what I think a lot of the elites are up to.

Our Friends the Chinese

Washington Times:Four Arrests linked to Spy Ring
Four persons arrested in Los Angeles are part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering ring, federal investigators said, and the suspects caused serious compromises for 15 years to major U.S. weapons systems, including submarines and warships.
U.S. intelligence and security officials said the case remains under investigation but that it could prove to be among the most damaging spy cases since the 1985 one of John A. Walker Jr., who passed Navy communication codes to Moscow for 22 years.
The Los Angeles spy ring has operated since 1990 and has funneled technology and military secrets to China in the form of documents and computer disks, officials close to the case said.
The ring was led by Chi Mak and his wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, along with Mr. Chi's brother, Tai Wang Mak, and his wife, Fuk Heung Li, officials said.
Key compromises uncovered so far include sensitive data on Aegis battle management systems that are the core of U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers.
China covertly obtained the Aegis technology and earlier this year deployed its first Aegis warship, code-named Magic Shield, intelligence officials have said.
The Chinese also obtained sensitive data on U.S. submarines, including classified details related to the new Virginia-class attack submarines.
Officials said based on a preliminary assessment, China now will be able to track U.S. submarines, a compromise that potentially could be devastating if the United States enters a conflict with China in defending Taiwan.
Mr. Chi, an electrical engineer, also had access to details on U.S. aircraft carriers and once was aboard the USS Stennis. A Pentagon report made public earlier this year said China's military is building up capabilities to attack U.S. aircraft carriers.

Hang 'em high
Nice to know we've blithely placed our economic future in China's ever lovin' hands.