Top 10 trucking products of 2021

It was a roller coaster of a year. Demand for trucks, trailers, and every imaginable piece of equipment continues to soar. But shortages of everything from microchips to assembly line workers have added to the related waiting times. Many orders placed in 2021 were even canceled and pushed into the year to come.

Yeah, that’s a nice truck. When you can get it.

Still, there was plenty of equipment news to note. Here are the Top 10 products that caught the attention of our editorial team.

Cummins B6.7
(Photo: Cummins)

1. Medium Muscle – Medium-duty Cummins engines

Remember when everyone was focused on the benefits of vertical integration, with trucks and proprietary engines made by the same manufacturer? That trend may be strong in the heavy-duty segment, but Cummins has secured a clear position when it comes to medium-duty power.

Daimler, Isuzu and Hino alike have announced plans to use Cummins engines in their medium-duty trucks moving forward.

The deal was clearly vital for Hino, which actually had to pause North American truck production, citing challenges with the U.S. engine certification testing process for new model years of the proprietary A09C, J08E and J05E engines. In came the Cummins B6.7 for L-Series models and Cummins L9 in the Hino XL.

Isuzu had previously announced plans to use the Cummins B6.7 in its push to support Class 6 and 7 applications.

In a global context, Daimler Trucks AG established a Memorandum of Understanding that will see Cummins establish an engine plant with the Daimler Trucks and Buses Mercedes-Benz campus in Mannheim, Germany, as part of a plan to meet Euro VII emissions standards. Cummins will eventually become Daimler’s worldwide medium-duty engine provider, too.

Donaldson filter minder
(Photo: Donaldson)

2. Connected Cleaners – Donaldson’s connected filters

Telematics data has been monitoring engine performance for years. Donaldson is taking that a step further by even keeping a close eye on the filters capturing contaminants in engine oil. The Filter Minder Connect suite will provide oil condition alerts in real time, triggering warnings with clearly understood green, yellow and red codes.

Rather than pulling out a filter based on miles or hours of service, this offers the information to truly optimize drain intervals based on performance. That will be particularly useful for mixed fleets or those that have trucks running in varied conditions, a Donaldson representative noted.

Sensors will even alert fleets about any contamination, such as coolant in the oil that can identify challenges like a failed EGR cooler.

Oil filters are just the beginning. The system will also look to address air filters and hydraulic systems.

Hour glass
(Photo: istock)

3. Time Keepers – Canada’s certified ELDs

Canada’s federally regulated carriers had an ELD mandate before any electronic logging devices were even available. At least, it was before any of the devices were certified as meeting underlying technical standards.

That began to change in late July, as the first certified devices began to emerge.

While suppliers have the ability to certify their own technology used to meet a U.S. mandate, the stricter Canadian standards were introduced in a bid to keep people from tampering with the Hours of Service data.

The enforcement deadline has been pushed to June 2022. But the only thing that will make any deadline a possibility will be a wide selection of certified models.

pulsating brake light
(Photo: Groendyke Transport)

4. A Safe Pulse – Pulsating brake lamps

One of the biggest safety-related advances of 2021 came in Transport Canada’s decision to allow brake-activating pulsating stop lamps.

Other rules that affect lamp size, placement and color still apply. And the additional lights can’t interfere with the effectiveness of the lights that we’ve come to know.

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had previously awarded Grote a five-year limited exemption to explore amber brake-activated pulsating lamps. That followed a successful test by the National Tank Truck Carriers and Groendyke Transport that saw the number of related rear-end collisions drop by a third.

There are still other lighting rules to follow. Federal regulators focus on manufactured vehicles, but provinces and territories have the final say on maintenance, operation and installation of aftermarket equipment. We’re hoping they all say yes to this upgrade.

Continental Turn Assist
(Photo: Continental)

5. A Watchful Eye – Continental Turn Assist

OEMs have introduced a variety of systems that can watch for vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists. Continental’s Turn Assist has built on those with a system that offers audible and visual warnings whenever radar sensors spot someone inside a vehicle’s danger zone.

The one feature that pushed it into our Top 10 is that the system can also be retrofitted to all types of trucks and connect to existing vehicle warning systems.

The system combines the radar sensor with an evaluation unit, buzzer and light for the warnings, and a steering angle sensor. The radar sensor mounts on the rearview mirror and monitors an area 13 feet to the side of the vehicle and up to 46 feet behind it.

Doleco LayerLok
(Photo: Doleco)

6. Locked and Loaded – Doleco LayerLok

Think your dry van, reefer or shipping container is fully loaded? Take another look. The Doleco LayerLok adds additional layers within trailers to maximize every available inch of cargo space.

It isn’t the first system to add such a layer. Not even close. But Doleco notes that most double-decking systems used over the past three decades are based on an aircraft seating track. Those don’t tend to be designed for repetitive sliding or to carry vertical loads.

The LayerLok XP features a machined aluminum track with beveled teeth rather than holes or slots, while a steel head assembly and beam adjustment tool slide within the recessed slots. Its counterpart, the LayerLok AF, has tracks and decking beams that will interchange with competing systems, while the LayerLok SC’s steel tracks can be welded into 20- and 40-foot shipping containers.

The systems will also stow at ceiling height when not used.

Detroit Assurance system
(Photo: Daimler Trucks North America)

7. Added Assurance – More safety features for Detroit Assurance

Detroit continues to build on the platform of safety systems available through its Detroit Assurance platform.

Chief among them is the active speed intervention that will trigger warnings when trucks exceed a posted limit, and depending on how fast the truck is traveling the system will de-throttle the engine for two seconds, adjust adaptive cruise control to the posted limit, or cancel adaptive cruise control.

A brake hold mode, meanwhile, will eliminate the need for drivers to keep pushing down the brake pedal during a prolonged standstill.

They aren’t the only changes. Active lane assist with auto stop, offered on the Freightliner Cascadia, will actively apply brakes rather than letting a truck roll to a stop if a driver lifts hands from the steering wheel for more than 60 seconds. Since that could be a sign a driver is incapacitated, the doors will also unlock and interior lights will flash an SOS.

Optimum VRx
(Photo: Optimum Fleet Health)

8. Artificial Intelligence – Optimum VRx

The best repairs are planned repairs. Ottawa-based Optimum Fleet Health’s Optimum VRx promises some greater insights with a predictive and prescriptive maintenance tool that predicts times to component failures and provides step-by-step solutions up to four weeks before the failure occurs.

Its dashboard breaks down issues involving engines, exhaust, electrical, brakes, coolant, fuel, and transmission, while alerts are pushed through email or text.

An “engine” at the heart of the system analyzes close to 8,000 key performance indicators, and that can reduce diagnostic time by as much as 85%, the company says.

No new hardware is required, and fees are charged per truck.

Hydra Energy hydrogen truck
(Photo: Hydra Energy)

9. Hydrogen Highlight – Hydra Energy retrofits

Already have a truck? Want to fuel it with hydrogen? Hydra Energy is installing reversible hydrogen retrofit kits that promise to slash emissions by 40% without compromising fuel economy, range, payload, torque or power.

But this is about more than vehicle components alone. Think of it as hydrogen as a service. The hydrogen-diesel co-combustion conversion kits and fueling stations are installed at no cost to participating fleets. The fuel itself is produced by Chemtrade, as a byproduct of other activities, and will be provided at prices that will at the very least match diesel costs.

Ballard fuel cell
(Photo: Ballard)

10. Fuel Cell – Ballard’s 100 kW fuel cell

Interest continues to grow in hydrogen fuel cells as an option to slash truck emissions – particularly in equipment that has to travel outside the ranges offered by battery-electric models. Ballard, one of the pioneers in such technology, has unveiled a 100-kW model to its FCmove platform.

It represented more than a tweak to the power source. It’s said to be 44% more compact and 33% lighter than previous fuel cell modules of this size, and the lifecycle cost is expected to be 40% less than the previous generation of fuel cell. There are even 50% fewer components combining with a longer life, leading to fewer stack replacements.

It can be mounted in the engine bay or on a vehicle roof, and will function from -30 to 50 Celsius.

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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