Avatar photo

December 7, 2005 Vol. 1, No. 7

I should probably begin by talking about the emergence of satellite radio on the
Canadian scene, courtesy of XM and Sirius – and even the good old CBC, which is partnering with Sirius in Canada. A third player, CHUM, also wants in, via digital signals. This isn’t
strictly speaking a typical trucking product, so I’m only giving it passing mention
here, but it will change the lives of the steering-wheel crowd. No longer will they
have long stretches of radio silence or endless searches for something actually
worth listening to. Now, if they want to hear the play-by-play of the Leafs losing to
the Senators, they can have it.

But hey, I shouldn’t be using the future tense here – any trucker worth his road salt
actually launched himself into satellite radio long ago by way of an illegal (yikes)
American subscription.

More seriously, a couple of interesting inspection tools have caught my eye recently. One, the new Zonar Systems pre/post-trip inspection tool, uses radio frequency identification technology, or RFID, to walk drivers through the complete pre/post-trip process component by component. The Homeland Security folks south of
the border like this one, and it’s apparently becoming popular with school-bus
operators down there.

A handheld reader ‘sees’ the radio transmission from coin-sized tags (like toll-road transponders, but smaller) on every must-inspect component and the driver has to press a green or red button (signifying ‘OK’ or ‘needs attention’ respectively) when he’s dealt with them, one by one. A report – a standard report that meets all regulatory requirements — is
generated automatically when he sets the reader back in its in-cab cradle and it’s
then sent to Zonar’s server for furtherance to the fleet’s home base.

Will every fleet order dozens of these, one for every truck? Likely not, but don’t be surprised if some variation on this theme becomes mandatory at some point in the future.

The other inspection tool I’ve highlighted is also great in a driver’s hands – an infrared thermometer with a laser aim and digital readout. There are three new
MiniTemp models from Raytek, and they’re great for on-the-road tire, wheel, and brake checking and troubleshooting.

Drivers can check tire and brake temperatures, for example, just by pointing the
thermometer at the component in question. One quick read of a brake drum will reveal a brake that’s running hotter than the others, and that should send up a red flag that could demand the services of a mechanic. A wheel hub that’s running
hotter than all the others should also be dealt with, of course, and a hot tire signals underinflation that calls for a pressure gauge to be pulled into action.

At US$79 for the cheapest of the three models, the MT2, it sounds like a decent
investment for those drivers who might actually use it. If I were an owner-operator,
I’d sure have one.

In Quebec, Alutrec figures it’s the first trailer maker in Canada to introduce
Hendrickson suspension systems equipped with air disc brakes. Based in
Ste-Agathe de Lotbinière, Alutrec makes fully aluminum flatbed, dropdeck, logging, and hybrid trailers, and its first disc-equipped trailer will be on the road next month.

Hendrickson announced earlier this year that its Intraax and Vantraax suspensions
would get air discs as options. The company developed a unique generic torque plate that accommodates multiple disc brake designs. Working with Haldex as a preferred supplier, it also offers ArvinMeritor and Bendix disc brakes and can match them to several wheel-end and spindle options for most trailer applications.

Alutrec’s announcement is significant, I think, because it sends the air disc brake
into new territory. For the most part, these brakes – with their fade resistance and shorter stopping distances – have been restricted to use in tanker fleets like Trimac until now. This puts the disc into the mainstream, albeit with a small regional manufacturer.

One final note, about a previously mentioned and very useful management book
called ‘Shifting Gears’, authored by Ward Warkentin and two colleagues. Ward
and his publisher, Thomson Delmar Learning, asked me to tell you that you can
save 25% off the $68.95 list price. You can order it over the phone at 1-800-354-9706, and you’ll get the discount if you mention ‘Source Code’

This newsletter is published every two weeks. It’s a heads-up notice about what you can see at where you’ll find in-detail coverage of nearly everything that’s new. Plus interesting products that may not have had the ‘air play’ they deserved within the last few months. There’s more here than we could possibly fit into the magazine. Subscribe today!

If you have comments of whatever sort, please contact me at

Rolf Lockwood, Editorial Director

Avatar photo

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.