There’s plenty to be learned at trucking conferences

This morning, I arrived at the office thankful to see I still have a desk here. For the last two weeks I’ve been travelling – both near and afar – in the pursuit of articles for our November issues of Truck News and Truck West. As is often the case when I’m away from the office for extended periods of time, I began to feel some anxiety about just what would await me upon my return. Fortunately, within a couple hours I’ve been able to catch up on voice mails and regular ol’ snail mail. Thanks to the magic of VPN networks, I’ve been monitoring e-mail the entire time.
So what have I been up to? First was a trip to Brussels, Belgium with Volvo Group. I was fortunate to be included among a small group of trade press editors who had the chance to see, first-hand, seven different truck configurations designed to operate on a variety of bio-fuels. Each of the trucks is completely CO2-free. In fact, Volvo has gone one better and has started producing trucks at its Ghent, Belgium factory with a CO2-free approach, using wind and solar energy to power the plant. It’s quite the accomplishment, one the company plans to mirror at other factories, including those in North America. The ultimate vision is a truck that is produced, operated and then recycled without any CO2 emissions released into the environment. It’s an ambitious target and one that the company is relentlessly pursuing. I’ll have a full report from Brussels in the November issue.
Next up was a trip to Nashville where the Technology and Maintenance Council’s fall meetings are taking place. Cummins took advantage of the opportunity to outline its plans to meet the 2010 emissions standards. I think I can safely say, most of us there in attendance were surprised to hear company officials claim they can meet EPA2010 standards without the use of a NOx aftertreatment system such as SCR. It’s been widely believed that SCR would be required to meet the NOx emissions standards in store for the industry in 2010. Again, a full report of just how Cummins plans to accomplish this will be available in the next issue.
Finally, it was back-to-back-to-back trips to the Doubletree Hotel here in Toronto for two important conferences. The Canadian Recruiting and Retention Conference hosted by Over the Road magazine was held there Tuesday and Wednesday. Attendance was down from past years, but the organizers did an excellent job keeping the material fresh and relevant. Yesterday, Markel Insurance held its latest Let’s Talk seminar, discussing the best results for claims and losses as well as how to develop a claims protocol.
Now, I would like to hop up on my soap box and take a moment to emphasize the importance of continuous learning for managers, dispatchers and drivers in the trucking industry. The three days of seminars I attended this week featured an abundance of useful tips, tools and networking opportunities for attendees. Yes, there are a lot of these events and yes, they can be time-consuming and costly. But the information shared at these types of events can easily justify the expense and time away for the office for any sized trucking operation. For those of you who didn’t attend, you can read about them in upcoming issues of Truck News and Truck West. But admittedly, the whole story cannot be told in 800 to 1,000 words. For that experience you need to be there in person.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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