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Travels of a Trucker New Technology

November 26, 2011

New Technology

Being a trucker, we are always seemingly in the know of what is the latest gadgets. Whether it’s because we are picking them up. delivering them. or using them, it always seems that truckers have the latest and greatest technology before the masses have it. Perhaps it is because we are dealing with every sector of work whether it is the Government or secret technology companies who have the latest and greatest advances. One thing is for sure we need to keep up with the times and advance as technology advances.

New Phones

A new phone seems almost inevitable for everyone. Years ago, I remember the big box style car phones that were installed in vehicles. They were primarily only to be seen by those who were corporate executives. Then the advancement of those bulky cellphones that had a huge battery pack and weighed about 5 pounds. As the years flew by we saw the flip phones, the touch screen phones and now with our most recent innovations we have the various Iphones. Without a decent phone a trucker just cannot compete in todays market. Whether calling the shipper or dealing with the boss, one needs communications.

VHF Radio’s

The CB is a slow dying breed. Like the age of the over width and heavy cellphone, it’s use is numbered. Sure if you go back to a populated area like Ontario, New York, Michigan and other populated areas it sees plenty of use, the primary mode of communication now anywhere west of those areas is the VHF Radio. With it’s long distance range of at least 40 kilometers and in some cases more, it is widely used now.A truck without a VHF radio is almost a danger to the public as not knowing what is behind the next corner. In areas that are mountainous having a VHF can save lives.

Rabbit Ear Antennaes

I remember years ago when my dad was driving truck. As we’d drive along we could see the old rabbit ear Antennaes’ on trucks. These Rabbit ears were the best that trucks could get to improve TV reception. No, if you don’t have a small satellite dish you won’t get TV as more and more broadcasts are done on the digital frequencies. As a matter of fact in the areas that Shaw Communications services, you won’t find any channels as Shaw has switched from “Old Rabbit Ears” reception to “Digital Technology”. Again just another sample of our advancements.

WiFi Technology

A few years ago, I remember trying to race to get to a good parking spot wherever I could find WiFi reception. Sometimes in places like Thunder Bay in Ontario I would park at the Future Shop late at night and sticl my little WiFi box USB in…hoping to pick up a signal. I had to repeat this process every time I wanted an Internet connection. Then they came out with built in WiFi on Laptops. Again you had to look for the WiFi. Then places started becoming tricky changing their WiFi from Public Domain to password encrypted making it harder and harder to find a WiFi spot especially driving a truck. Now it is the norm to have an internet stick on the road so that no matter where you go as long as you have cell service with your provider you will have WiFi.

New Fuel Technologies

Our primary story here though is about newer fuel technologies. It is without a doubt one of the biggest races mankind is underway to find and mass produce before our civilization has exhausted the use of Carbon based minerals like Coal. Things like Electric vehicles and Hybrid Technology are slowly making their way up the charts as more and more consumers and companies worry about the ecological effects of their carbon footprints. So what is it that truck manufacturers are doing that are helping to find a solution to their carbon footprint? After years of Diesel exhaust and fumes literally going up in smoke polluting our environment they have finally started doing the researches and begun to market the products. These advancements come on the heels as more and more Nations join in the fight against Diesel Truck Pollution. Some States like California are world leaders in taking action and they have some of the toughest EPA laws around. They have enacted laws which require trucks to be more stringently dealt with when it comes to idling and having retrofits or newer trucks are required to have the DPF (Diesel Particulate Filters) that reburn the carbon to release less and less toxins into the air. As we go through these phases there are also companies whose sole aim and purpose is to look for alternatives to burning Carbon as the primary source of fuel.

Westport Innovations Inc., is one of these companies. They are a global leader in the area of using Liquid Natural Gas as an alternative to burning Diesel Fuel. They are located in Vancouver, British Columbia with satellite offices beginning to open globally. Partnered with various truck manufacturers like Kenworth, Peterbilt and Volvo they use engine manufacturers like Cummins with special modifications to burn the Liquid Natural Gas. I had the privilege of joining their ranks as a vehicle technician (aka truck driver) for almost a year and during this time they were growing at a significant pace with external truck sales looming on the horizon. You may have seen them in operation already and if you haven’t you will notice one key difference in that there is less noise from the engine than that of a typical pure Diesel truck. There are of course other key differences being that the engines are of course modified differently with several key components changed. Special material is also used since Liquid Natural Gas is cooled down to a brisk -140 degrees. The role that I had with this company is one that I enjoyed and sadly I am no longer with this company because another driver who had more seniority didn’t like me. That was the bottom line. But being the true trucker I am I continue to carry on and put the past aside. My thought on this. Karma is a bitch and what comes around goes around.

Anyways, my role here was simple. Drive the truck doing all terrain and in all weather while recording the data on my travels. Hundreds of specs were recorded simultaneously and every part of the truck was monitored. From noise to fuel tanks to engine. if it was on the truck it was monitored at one time or another for compatibility issues. Engineer after engineer debating, deciding, calculating, formulating, thinking and rechecking their processes to ensure the correct calibrations and data were used in the final sales version. It was exciting to think that I was a team player in a little part of what could be a major industry breakthrough. Regardless of my length of tenure there.

(Uhmmm yeah, if you noticed, it isn’t me…lol it’s the wife and kids on a test journey with me up to Pemberton)

Advance

The advice I give to you today, when technology advances don’t be left out to the pasture. You need to get on board and find a solution or find a company who also advances with it. Things like relying on a CB are a way of the past. When you need communication you need something that will get the message out over a long distance. When you choose a company to drive for you need to see what kind of equipment they are using. If they are old, unkempt and beaten up trucks, most likely you will have to provide your own communication device and to me these types of companies are the shadies who are looking to make a buck off your hard work. Watch for these companies and don’t be afraid to say no to their employment. Look for companies who like to progress with technology in the areas of fuel and other environmental areas. These types of companies also care about their drivers as much as they do their equipment. The bottom line. Stay safe and keep er sunny side up. Thanks for reading.

If you enjoy my blogs and pictures, please feel free to join my email list or through Google connect. By all means if you have any comments, please feel free. If you are a company looking for a product endorsement with things like GPS, VHF Radio’s or other gadgets designed for and exclusive to trucking, send me a line and your product to :

Roger Simmons

2130 8th ave

New Westminster, BC V3M2T8

Canada

I will in no way make a false misrepresentation as to your product and I will tell it like it is. If I like your product…I’m keeping it and will endorse it on my blog. 🙂

Trucker.

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