It’s that time of year again. Hopefully you have all overindulged over the holidays and are now starting your New Year’s Resolutions. I have a couple.
The first is to quit the smokes, but the second is going to affect all of you. I am actually going to try and put a positive slant on this column and bring you good news each month.
Now statistically most resolutions fail before the month gets into double digits, so to improve the odds I’m going to have to narrow down my choices. I was going to try and keep them both, but I’m missing my smokes and I’m feeling a little grumpy, so normal service is about to resume.
So what has got me bent out of shape? Regulations of course, specifically emissions.
I’ve just read a survey by the very well respected J.D. Power & Associates. It tells a very sad story, one that has a chance of changing the face of trucking as we know it.
Reading the survey, I was shocked to discover that the out-of-service numbers for 2012 model Class 8 trucks was 46%. Yes, that’s right, 46%. There was nearly a one in two chance that your new $140,000 purchase would be in the shop for repair within its first year.
Not only is there a 46% failure rate, the average length of time the trucks were in the shop was 13 days.
Now, there will have been quite a few cases where trucks were in and out of the shop on the same day, so in the world of averages, if some were only in for one day, others were in the shop for a whole month.
A month without any earnings from the investment is a month of frustration and despair.
This sad story emphasizes one thing: trucks today are far too complicated and not enough people know how to fix them when they inevitably break down.
Something has to be done about this situation before companies start going to the wall through circumstances beyond their control. It’s time to take control, but how? As I see it there are two, maybe three, options. Firstly we could all get together and force the regulators to take notice that their regulations are strangling our industry and could have serious implications to the whole economy, because as we all know, trucks keep our economy moving.
Or we could keep what we’ve got and rip all the emissions junk off the engines and go back to relatively trouble-free motoring, but that’s illegal and we cannot advocate that. If enough people got together and made themselves heard, maybe we could make it so that it wasn’t illegal, but unless there are some big changes to the way we’re represented, it’ll never happen, so we’re left with another option.
Glider kits, they could be the future. I can see that’s raised a few eyebrows and got more than a few of you shaking your heads, especially those of you that remember the gliders of the past. But think about it, you can get a brand new rolling glider kit from several of the manufacturers. You source a pre-emission engine from your manufacturer of choice, bolt it together and you go to work.
You don’t get any failures from EGR valves, EGR coolers, variable geometry turbos, turbo actuators, DPF filters, SCR and all the other mumbo jumbo that contributes to the vast majority of the 99% of breakdowns that affect 46% of all new trucks.
What you get is a solid, robust truck that gets the job done like it’s supposed to do. However, in Canada, we don’t have that option. Environment Canada has a rule in place that a chassis must have an engine of the same model year’s emissions level. Obviously, the tree huggers have more power than our industry. “No,” they cry, “the dirty exhaust will kill babies and small furry animals.”
They speak and everyone listens. We, on the other hand, say absolutely nothing and of course, nobody hears us. The simple facts are this: a properly functioning pre-emission engine puts out far less harmful exhaust gases than a truck with a malfunctioning EGR system that belches thick black smoke from its stacks.
And without all the emissions junk on an engine, it’s far more likely for that engine to function properly.
They may puff out a bit of black smoke every once in a while, but that’s just a sad fact of life. There has to be a compromise.
The regulators cannot expect the trucking industry to be on the receiving end of the compromises all the time. You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. We need to have a voice as loud as that of our opposition, rather than keeping quiet as we head into the poor house on the back of a tow truck.