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Here are some insights based on presentations and papers.

Porsche 987 Strategy

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Big Data Pays for Itself

I had a chance to record a video and audio podcast with Steve Miller of Heceta Group. Steve has decades of experience with cybersecurity and data science, IBM Watson and more. Here is a 70-second video summary.

Here is a link to the full video episode.

If you prefer to just listen, here is an audio podcast.


b2B Marketing: I Can’t Find You

Sean Busse, CEO of Kinesis and Dean Veeder, Purchasing Manager at Daimler Trucks North America joined me to discuss small businesses marketing to larger businesses. Key insights regarding marketing versus sales, the importance of websites and the about section, as well as mobile viewability were discussed. I presented some material for the first thirteen minutes. Sean and Dean introduced themselves, then we went to questions and answers.

Bios for The Ongoing Evolution of Technician Training

George Arrants

Working with the ASE Education Foundation to develop and implement an initiative for the medium/heavy truck industry to partner industry and education and open opportunities for student internships across the country like what is already in place in the automotive industry.

Also, as an Automotive Education Consultant specializing in NATEF/ASE accreditation, he works with instructors and administrators to develop partnerships with local business and industry through the programs advisory committees and guides them through the ASE/NATEF program accreditation. George has chaired the Technology and Maintenance Council’s Supertech Competition from its beginning in 2005 and the Future Technicians Skills Competition. In 2015, he was awarded the Council’s highest honor — The Silver Spark Plug.

George is a former high school and community college automotive technology instructor.

While working for a tool manufacturer, he co-authored an instruction manual for schools that simplified the industry accreditation process approved by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). He was selected to serve on NATEF’s board of trustees and was the tool company’s liaison to Automotive Youth Educational Systems.

He has been a guest of the government of Oman, where he evaluated the country’s automotive programs and made recommendations to the country’s senior officials including the Minister of Man Power. He worked closely with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Employment and Training Administration, where he led the automotive strategic development team that advised the agency’s “High Growth Job Training Initiative.” He holds ASE certifications in Automotive & Medium/Heavy Duty Truck, Parts Specialist (Truck & Auto) and Service Consultant.

He and his wife Mary (Saint Mary) live in Lake Jackson, TX. They have 5 children, 1 girl & 4 boys (2 are twins) and has been married for 34 years. Of the 5, the only child in the auto industry is their daughter.

Brad Aller

As a young man growing up in northwest Ohio, Brad developed an affinity for the trucking industry by working on tractors with his father.  After graduating from the National Auto Diesel College in 1977, Brad worked as a technician for several fleets and dealerships before becoming an instructor at the Ohio Diesel & Technical College.

With 15 years as an instructor under his belt, Brad joined Bendix in 1999 as a service engineer for the southeast region. After 9 years working with and training industry professionals as a service engineer, Brad joined the Bendix fleet sales team, where he now enjoys his role as Regional Director of Fleet Sales and Training for the eastern United States and Canada.

Brad is a seven-time inductee into the Bendix President’s Club and a three-time recipient of the Bendix Service Engineer of the Year award.  He has been ASE certified in heavy duty brakes for the past 25 years and is an avid supporter of the annual TMC Skills Completition.  Brad currently resides in Elgin, SC.

Koen Berends

Koen co-founded Electude in 1990 and is the driving force behind its training content. He studied electrical engineering, where he specialized in automotive electronics and the impact of electronics on the automotive technician profession. He is one of the main European thought leaders on the training and testing of automotive technology. Within Electude, Koen is responsible for the didactical method and content of the Electude products and manages the development department.

Paul Menig

Following graduation from MIT, Paul worked at General Electric on products for breast scanners, computer communications, ultrasound, and guided bombs. He spent 15 years at Eaton developing industrial automation, vision inspection, nuclear submarine controls, automated mechanical transmissions, and radar safety systems. Paul spent 18 years at Daimler Trucks North America responsible for all electrical/electronics, brakes, and safety systems, including developing the strategy of global commonality and component sharing that remains part of Daimler’s current strategy.

Paul provides strategic management advice to Tier 1 suppliers to the trucking industry and has headed the Far Horizons/Future Truck initiative of the Technology and Maintenance Council. He is a board member of an intellectual property company and President of the National Transportation Center Foundation, a greenfield development of a 200-acre vocational training facility southwest of Indianapolis dedicated to providing training in all transportation. He regularly writes and speaks to the trucking industry on topics of technology and its impact and opportunities.

As CEO of Business Accelerants™ Powered by Tech-I-M, he provides strategic management and consulting services to client companies to driver faster profitable growth, getting the leaders more money from the business and more time for their lives.

Vision for a Roadmap to Autonomy

I’ve been doing some work for companies involved in power control, vision products, and other “seeing” technology. A major application is autonomous vehicles. Here are some thoughts on the current state of the technology and the industry.

Here is a video recording of the presentation.

Slides only (the two embedded videos won’t play) can be viewed at:

The Tech Academy PodCast

Joining us today on this episode of The Tech Academy Podcast is Paul Menig, CEO of Tech-I-M Business Accelerants and President of the National Transportation Center Foundation. To kick things off this week, we let Erik geek out over the new Star Wars film which he saw mere hours earlier (don’t worry, no spoilers!), and get a general timeline of Paul’s life using the Star Wars films as markers. During the interview we learn about our guest’s high school dream of becoming a biomedical engineer and how that path changed, his time studying electrical engineering at MIT, what it was like to get his first electronic calculator in college and so much more! As always, stay tuned for another one of Jack Stanley’s Helpful Tips at the end of the episode!

Speaker: Paul Menig

Don’t Grow It Alone—How Advisory Boards Drive Success

On December 7, 2017 I presented to a group of family owned business people at the breakfast meeting of the Austin Family Business Program.

In sports you seek out better players to advance your game. In business you seek out mentors that have been there and can help you take the next step. Many lessons can be learned from the corporate world and from family businesses that have existed for a century. The key is to descale those lessons to be able to apply them to younger, smaller companies, so that they can scale up to achieve their best. Many factors will affect how you scale up, from casual advisors, to paid advisors, to organized CEO peer groups, to more formal boards of advisors, and boards of directors. This session will highlight seven forces affecting a company and how to marshal the family and advisors to overcome the challenges.

This presentation helps answer:

  • When is a good time to start adding outside resources and governance structures?
  • How do we avoid losing control of the business?
  • What is the return on investment in time and money?

Here are the words for each slide as I prepared it. I often go “off script” along the way when presenting.

Words for AFBP Presentation

Go Gitter!

I’ve always been a “go getter.” Now, I can “let the hammer down” as I now have a “Woman Gitter.” In this time of ethical lapses by big business and accusations and admissions of sexual misconduct, this may seem like a misnomer. I was thoroughly enjoying The Hughes Brothers Christmas show with my wife, brother, and sister-in-law (more on that in a minute). The Hughes Brothers are a large, Christian family from Utah, the largest, live-performing family in the world. They are about 30 strong, with the 4th generation showing up for the first time in this show. As part of the comedy routine, they were giving away a white elephant present from one of the many shops in Branson, Missouri. I was chosen to receive this gift. It turned out to be an old looking wood mallet/hammer with the inscription “woman gitter” on it.

The shows in Branson all provide an opportunity to honor veterans. All the shows stop for a minute or two and ask for veterans to identify themselves so that others can thank them for their service with their applause. At shops all around town, there are emblems for each of the armed services on gifts of all sorts. At Silver Dollar City today I saw Air Force Academy and a gentleman walking with a cane from the Air Force. Others were getting along in wheel chairs. At this Thanksgiving time, it’s great to remember all those people that did and do sacrifice family, body parts, brains, and life, itself, for our freedoms.

I said I would say more about my sister-in-law. My brother is 13 years older than me. I was just 4-years old when I first met my sister-iin-law. She’s been married to my brother for 56 years now. My wife of a meager 40 years was asked if she and my sister-in-law were related while on the shuttle to Silver Dollar City. My wife replied, “We are sisters by law and sisters of the heart.” I can be thankful for a family that includes my wife, children, new grandchild, brother, sister-in-law and many others.

So, whether in your personal life, or in your business, make a plan that is as short as one page. Include your values/culture, mission, and vision. Have a strategy, make some goals and measurable objectives and define the actions you need to get what you want in life and in business.

Then “Go Gitter!


Epilogue—Forced to Succeed!

Classic business strategy is useful, but must be updated as people learn and technology changes everything.

Show Me the Money

Some companies are driven to make a profit, regardless of the product or service.

Grow, Baby, Grow!

Startups are especially driven to grow without regard to making money and profits.

It’s Mine. All Mine.

Few companies are driven to deal with natural resources.

The Road to Engineering Management

Paul Menig of Tech-I-M Business Accelerants™ interviews Dorota Shortell, CEO of Simplexity Product Development, Eric Olbricht, former software development manager at HP, and David Wetchler, Technology Portfolio Manager at HP. The topic is what it takes for an engineer to become a manager today.

Can You Deliver the Goods?

One of the nine drivers of a company is method of distribution.

Can You Sell Anything and Everything?

Are You a Great Manufacturer?

Do You Love Technology?

Are You Market and Customer Driven

Is Your Business Product or Service Driven?

What Drives Your Business

Strategic Planning Is NOT an Oxymoron

TMC Future Truck Far Horizons—26 February 2017

Introduction to Paul Menig, Your Business Accelerant™

Seventy Second Simple Strategy Series Introduction

What Is Tech-I-M in One Minute or Less

What Should I Include in My Plan?

What Should I Think About When Making a Plan?

What Are the Benefits of a Written Business Plan?

Businesses Large and Small Fail

Product Development Often Causes Friction

Internal Processes Resist Change

Connected Vehicles and Distracted Driving: How to improve safety without sacrificing efficiency

On September 1 I participated in a webinar on this topic, hosted by FleetOwner, for whom I blog regularly, and Telogis, a major telamatics company recently acquired by Verizon. The topic is using mobile communications in the vehicle safely. I’ve been involved in human factors and man-machine interface for most of my career, developing software for industrial controls, nuclear reactors on submarines, and instrument clusters for trucks. I’ve got some strong opinions that come out in this presentation. I end with 10 things that fleets can do to deal with mobile communications devices.




National Transportation Center Overview

Overview of the National Transportation Center presented to the members of the Indiana Motor Truck Association July 19, 2016.

Vehicle/Machine Connectivity and the Future of Maintenance

Everyone is talking about the Internet of Things, IoT, connected, and autonomous vehicles. It takes a bit more than knowledge of how to turn a screw or hammer a nail to be able to repair these machines and vehicles. We cannot all call an IT specialist to fix everything. Therefore, we need to be ready to train people to do more, to think and understand how to reason why something is not working. Then they can pull out the proper tools to get it working again. It likely will not be a screwdriver or a hammer. I helped the Fleet Maintenance publication recently with background for their article. They were nice enough to put in one, brief quote.

Paul Menig, CEO, Tech-I-M, a provider of consulting services to help companies succeed by leveraging technology in products and processes (, says he expects the industry to evolve in a similar way to when electronic engines were introduced in the mid-1990s and there was too much data for the industry to process. “The engineers and designers learned that they need to cut down on the number of fault codes, and they need to do some filtering and testing of the reasonableness of the values,” says Menig. “People’s comfort level with the technology will improve over time. It’ll be an evolution. There will be some issues, but we’ll get used to it.”

People Are the Heart of Every Organization

Even though getting things done, accomplishing milestones is important in a project or business, it cannot be done without people. Understanding what motivates individuals and teams is important to managers in all functions. I had a chance to discuss these issues with a number of people skilled in human resources as part of the ExecRank Human Resources Advisory Council on May 18, 2016.

Human Resources Advisory Council

Technology Affects Small and Medium Businesses

Technology is a force of change in every business. Large companies often have the wherewithall to deal with it, having a full-time internal staff, or hiring an outside firm to provide support. Many small businesses rely on a family member, possibly part time, to do these services. Unfortunately, the technology is such an integral part of the business, that this approach is often inadequate. Small companies need to better assess their risks and their needs. Cloud computing solutions used to only be for those companies with more than 100 employees. That is now half that and trending lower.  Let me know if you would like to listen to this panel discussion.

Technology Advisory Council

Current/Future Truck Technology—Cleanly and Safely Operating Autonomously

On May 6, the Oregon Institute of Technology students put together a great day of presentations from industry in the Portland metro area. People from Intel, AirShip Technologies, Portland State University, Microsoft, Oregon Health Science University, the Food and Drug Administration, Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute, and Tech-I-M Business Accelerants™. My talk on the future of truck technology finished out the technology track, giving students insight into the future they will be working to bring to reality. All the talks can be viewed HERE. My talk is included below.

Changing Future Vehicle Design

When something goes wrong, the first priority is to contain the problem. Then, you must turn to preventing it from happening in the future. I had a chance to present on future service for vehicles in Nashville on March 2, via video. Here is the 24 minute presentation I made regarding sensors, virtual reality, big data, and more.

Trucking’s Future Now

In August, I was interviewed by Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ) where I organized a session on future truck items. In April, I’ll be talking about the future of the Spring Industry. Consider a future technology talk for your group from sales to accounting and everything business.


Tech-I-M Talks Future Truck

How to Have it All: Quality, Cost and Performance

This year I have visited 15 plants in 8 states that manufacture springs and metal forms. I’ve seen titanium springs small enough to go into a heart pacemaker installed in a human’s chest. I’ve also seen flat leaf springs for trucks being hot formed and quenched. I’ve seen well lit factories and places that remind me of days gone by. I’ve seen fancy, new, computerized controlled numerical machines, and old-time mechanical coilers—even hand coiling equipment. I also did a survey of the members of the Spring Manufacturers Institute with an outstanding response rate. This is the presentation I provided. Links to the videos on used are shown on the slides. Here are the thoughts I prepared to go with each slide.

Talking Points

Here is a one page, two-sided overview of how you can outsource more of your human capital management tasks to a company such as ADP.

ADP Brochure

What Do Fleet Executives Expect in the Next Generation of Trucks?

Paul Menig, Tech-I-M, presentation

We interviewed Presidents, CEOs, CFOs and heads of maintenance of 31 fleets recently to help prepare for a 90 minute session on future truck. The session presentation done 20 October 2015 in Philadelphia at the ATA MC&E (American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition) was 90 minutes in length. Presentations were made by Wallace Lau of Frost & Sullivan on the future from the vehicle OEM perspective and some insights on using an Uber type model to fill empty trailers. Brian McLaughlin, President of PeopleNet, a leading telematics supplier to the transportation industry, gave an enlightening talk on telematics today and where it will take us in the next 10 years. I completed the presentations with work we did to ask fleet leaders about the future, including autonomous vehicles, platooning and drones. Here are the 3 presentations and the prepared words I had for my presentation.

These are the words I prepared for my presentation: Slide notes

Current State and Future Trends in Telematics—What it Means to Fleets

Brian McLaughlin, PeopleNet presentation.

Strategic Outlook of Global Commercial Vehicle Industry

Wallace Lau Presentation.

2015 Manufacturing Summit – San Joaquin Valley

Business and educators in the San Joaquin Valley are working at the elementary, high school and post secondary level to prepare students to move efficiently into the business world of manufacturing and food processing with its complicated automation equipment.  In my keynote speech, I started with my own experience attending the Cass Technical High School in Detroit to learn electrical/electronics and my time in the cooperative education program at MIT that afforded me the opportunity to spend two semesters at General Electric Corporate R&D working on advanced concepts for computer communications and medical electronics.  I cover a variety of topics, including competitive forces, disruptive technology, lean manufacturing, six sigma, sports and continuous improvement.  Edited videos from Boeing, Cummins and SolarWorld were used to emphasize the points. (links to the full length videos are provided).


TMC Future Truck Far Horizon Spring 2015

I made a short presentation on Far Horizon needs for the Future Truck Committee of the Technology and Maintenance Council.  It highlights the slow moving nature of our industry with examples.  The presentation stresses the time-line of new developments in the industry from regulations to OEM’s putting pencil to paper (or CAD images on flat screens).  The point being that fleets need to give their input to OEM’s now, in order to influence the design of a new vehicle that will hit production in 2025.  You really need to look far out over the horizon to impact future truck designs.  The presentation ends with a cool jumping-truck video you won’t believe–it’s one of a kind.

Check it out here.

The Self Driving Truck: The Human Factor

I was interviewed by Fleet Owner in November of 2014 on the subject of autonomous vehicles, especially trucks.  The article was published in January 2015.  Here is the text of the article.

Time waits for no man. But technology must—especially when it’s poised to deliver radical change to an entire industry. To be sure, self-driving truck technology will only move forward as fast as fleet owners and other trucking stakeholders welcome it. And that will take time.

The adoption of self-driving trucks might well advance rapidly once fleets—and their drivers—can experience them first-hand. On the other hand, the truck makers, component suppliers and subsystem providers already developing this technology ultimately will require the buy-in of fleet owners, trucking lobbyists and safety advocates for self-driving trucks to get rolling in a big way.

The route to that happening will be gradual. It appears the first widespread deployment of the technology in the U.S. will be the wireless “platooning” of tractor-trailers, both to cut fuel consumption and heighten highway safety. From there, it will take the recognition of the technology’s benefits by fleets, shippers, regulators and the public before truly autonomous trucks—still piloted by truck drivers onboard to take over when manual control is required or emergencies arise—will appear on our highways in appreciable numbers.

To get a sense of how self-driving truck technology is being perceived at this early stage, we queried a diverse group of trucking experts (fleet executives, trucking lobbyists, researchers and consultants) on how operating fully self-driving trucks might affect a truck driver’s performance (especially regarding safety, fuel-efficiency and productivity), on-duty responsibilities and job satisfaction as well as how adopting autonomous vehicles could change the ways fleets recruit and retain truck drivers.

While no response evinced an outright Luddite rejection of self-driving trucks, individual replies ranged from those embracing the projected benefits, to those reflecting doubts about the practical feasibility, to those expressing skepticism about the predicted impact, to those suggesting that it’s just too soon to draw meaningful conclusions about self-driving trucks.

Sanford Hodes, Ryder’s senior vice president of safety, health and security, considers it premature to speculate about potential impacts to highway safety, vehicle performance and driver recruitment given that it is “so early in the study and design” of self-driving truck technology.

Eyes Wide Open

But he also points out that Ryder does “support the work being done to investigate the viability, efficacy and safety of this technology and will continue to watch its development with interest.” “Penske Logistics is acutely aware of the technological advances in the operations of trucks,” states Tom Scollard, vice president of dedicated contract carriage. “Our company has been integrating technologies like collision avoidance and blind-spot warning notifications into our fleets. We also utilize onboard technology that monitors miles-per-gallon efficiencies, idle time and [driver] behaviors like hard braking.”

He says such technological advances have “created a safer environment for motorists and within our industry. Our drivers certainly enjoy the amenities that come with late-model trucks, and it has made their jobs easier and the profession itself more attractive as a result. We regard technological advances as new tools for our drivers, who continue to work hard for our customers. “We feel that the concept of true self-driving trucks is years away from becoming a reality, and at best [will be used] in a linehaul application,” Scollard continues. “Our core business is delivery-intensive, requiring extensive driver involvement of value-add service, at either the point of delivery or the point of pickup.”

Firmly in the far-from-impressed camp is Lana Batts, co-president of driver-screening firm Driver iQ and a former president of the Truckload Carriers Assn.  “Ain’t never going to happen,” she states flatly. “The so-called ‘safety Nazis’ will kill it before it ever gets tested. They dislike drivers, but they dislike driverless trucks even more.”

As for how the technology will impact truck drivers, Batts “thinks they will get bored and even more accidents will happen.” She points out that along a 500-plus mile stretch of straight railroad track in Australia, “they had to install a switch that the train operator had to push every few minutes because [locomotive operators] were falling asleep.”

Offering a skeptical take is Norita Taylor, spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA). She remarks that it seems self-driving truck technology “could only be used where it would have the least impact on safety.”

According to Taylor, OOIDA doesn’t see self-driving trucks bettering highway safety. “How would interference from other vehicles, such as passenger vehicles, be controlled, especially in platoon situations…When moving through traffic lights, how will trucks ‘know’ a light has changed, again, especially with platoons, if the first truck goes through and the light changes before the other driverless trucks go?”

What about cars?

She also asks, “How would you address factors that affect the technology and cannot be controlled, such as weather or electrical storms, ice, blizzards, and tunnels where GPS is compromised?  Who would control the systems that control the trucks—individual fleets? How would conflicts between systems be addressed where multiple trucks interact, like in a shipping yard? And what about hacking?”

In terms of “pure speculation,” Bob Costello, chief economist and senior vice president of the American Trucking Assns. (ATA), says that “if the technology is more reliable, by taking humans out of the equation, it should be safer. However, are four-wheel vehicles going to have the same technology? The vast majority of car-truck crashes are the fault of car drivers. If they are still driving [without this technology], safety may be slow to improve from this.”

“Do I think safety numbers would improve as a result of self-driving trucks?” says David Heller, director of safety and  policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA). “Sure, but that is only under the assumption that self-driving passenger vehicles become the norm as well.  I think we, as an industry, know that many a cause of accidents is not the result of our drivers.  To say that this technology is a boon to highway safety would mean that the technology eliminates other drivers, weather and any other outside influence that may prove to be an accident cause as well.”

He also contends that “as technology changes, so do job expectations and performance standards. Even in today’s truck, a driver does so much more than just having his or her hands on the wheel. So, I’m certain that any new technology that eases the behind-the-wheel pressure will almost certainly put forth pressure elsewhere on the driver to make up for that.”

On the other hand, Heller figures that “fuel efficiency is one area that certainly can benefit from self-driving trucks. Acceleration and braking will most likely be programmed to optimum levels, causing the trucks to perform at maximum fuel-efficient standards.”

Paul Menig, CEO of consultancy Tech-I-M and a former Daimler Trucks engineer, is “certain this will help some aspects of safety. It’s so easy to be distracted in traffic and have a ‘rear-ender.’ That’s why fleets have wanted the radar systems in the trucks to work with braking all the way down to 0 mph, rather than only at cruise speeds.”

He adds that self-driving technology could also cut accident costs by reducing low-speed rollovers as well as damage incurred by trailers from improperly backing into docks, noting that “both ZF and Volvo have demonstrated how computers with cameras and sensors can do a better job of backing up a vehicle than a human.”

Wider appeal

Menig does caution that given that “more automation has been shown to cause airline pilots to lose some knowledge, experience and skills in critical situations,” the driving skills of the truck driver will have to remain paramount.

“Piloting a truck, especially one hauling hazardous cargo or a long combination vehicle, is likely to still require a driver to be available to take over in case of an emergency,” he continues. “But then the truck’s automation system could require that a driver go through an annual assessment” to ensure that they remain highly skilled whenever they’re at the wheel.

TCA’s Heller argues that “drivers are people and a self-driving truck should never take away from that fact or a carrier will continue to have a retention problem.”

He adds that he is “not sold that the technology will require a less proficient driver, but rather a driver with different proficiencies and the market will determine what value will be placed on those proficiencies.”

Ellen Voie, president & CEO of the nonprofit Women In Trucking Inc. and formerly manager of recruitment and retention for Schneider, expects self-driving technology will “make the career more attractive, especially to the next generation of potential drivers. The job would be safer, since the human error factor is greatly reduced, and in regard to productivity, the carrier can get more work done by a driver who has time to do other tasks when on the road.

“Greater use of technology usually requires a higher level of skill to operate, so I would hope that [self-driving trucks] would lead to higher driver pay,” she continues.

“I would suspect the drivers will also be expected to multi-task in ways by which the carrier could benefit, so increasing the productivity of the operator should boost their pay,” Voie remarks. “A carrier could potentially put a dispatcher or recruiter or even a bookkeeper in the truck—who could then function as a driver and office employee at the same time.”

Work no issue

Daniel Murray, vice president of research for the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), contends that “requiring less work of truck drivers is not really an issue for either safety or driver recruitment.”

According to Murray, fatigue registers as a critical factor in less than 8% of truck-involved fatalities. What’s more, he contends that “drivers today enter trucking knowing and expecting to do exactly what they do.”

He says that in of all of ATRI’s “surveys on top industry issues, drivers have never said ‘I do too much’ or that ‘I’m too distracted.’  The driver recruitment/retention issue is primarily about respect and pay.”

Murray does not see self-driving trucks enabling fleets to recruit individuals with less driving acumen simply because “the technology learning curve will increase” for truck drivers.

Nor does he think the technology will lead to lower driver pay. “The present compensation model is inadequate to address the shortage today. Advertising lower driver pay would drive a fleet out of business immediately.”

Sandeep Kar, Frost & Sullivan’s global director of automotive and transportation research, does not expect self-driving technology to deepen the labor pool for truck drivers anytime soon.

“At the moment, drivers require a CDL—and this despite the availability of adaptive cruise control technology,” he points out. “We believe that proliferation of Level 3 autonomous driving technology—defined as having a driver in the driver’s seat while the vehicle is autonomously driven in certain periods of a duty cycle—will still require a driver to be CDL-qualified.

“That said,” he continues, “what could be interesting is the lure of truck driving as a profession increasing for those who do not wish to join it thinking it is too rigorous a vocation. This could help alleviate the truck driver shortage problem and attract more young drivers towards trucking.”

Kar predicts that “over the next five to ten years,” the industry will make wider use of adaptive cruise control and wireless platooning technology. “Later, by 2020-2025, the focus will be on adopting Level 3 autonomous driving technologies.”

However, looking further down the road, he points out that more advanced Level 4 autonomous trucks “might not require drivers at all. These vehicles could be applicable in some vocations that are tagged as ‘heavy-haul dedicated route’ and that would open up whole new possibilities for dealing with the driver shortage and driver-related overhead expenses.”

Selling it

Going forward, Kar stresses that it is driver pay that “could make or break the autonomous-driving truck market. If the driver is present inside the truck and is paid full salary, then why would a fleet pay a significant price premium to acquire such trucks?

“The biggest hurdle to the evolution and introduction of these trucks lies in packaging and presenting the value proposition and total-cost-of-ownership appeal of these trucks in a way that fleets will see the compelling value and sense to invest in this technology,” he continues. “If there’s no market pull, this technology will not find broad-based application in trucking.”

That sales job could well amount to a long uphill battle given that right now, according to ATRI’s Murray, “there are almost zero fleets interested in a driverless truck. In addition, the legal liabilities are monstrous, particularly given our tort laws and political environment.”

Certainly, no one expects self-driving trucks will advance without the buy-in of people—regulators, legislators and fleet owners. Selling them on the technology will likely require truck makers and other suppliers to perform some hard and very hands-on driving.


Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Consumption Reduction

In April of this year, the National Academy of Science committee I am on published “Reducing the Fuel Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Phase Two First Report.”  This report is intended to provide some guidance to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the new rules for the 2020 time frame.  They have been directed by the President to issue the proposed rule making by the end of March 2015, less than 5 months from now.  Given the review and approval processes, I would expect them to provide the rule to the Office of Management and Budget before the end of this year.  A free, .pdf version of the document can be found at:

T3—Technology Transforming Transportation™

I’ve been involved with the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Association for 25 years or more.  It’s amazing what technology has done to transform a horse drawn wagon or a load carrying camel to today’s sophisticated truck and tractor.  Twice a year I provide information and guidance on what is going to be the future for trucking 5-20 years out.  5 years out is easy to predict, because most of that is already leaving research and entering into firm product development schedules.  The items further out are a bit more difficult to predict–but also fun.  In this fall’s presentation I talk about autonomous and connected vehicles, wearable computers, green house gas and fuel economy and SuperTrucks.

Transformative Technology for Tractor Driver Behavior

At the Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference in August 2014, I organized and moderated a session on using technology to modify driver behavior to make them safer and more fuel efficient–and just plain better employees.  Here is a photo and a link to the slide share presentation.  Below is a document with the leaden questions to the slides.  When the video becomes available, that will be posted so the answers will be available.  Here is a link to the text of prepared questions.  When the new window opens up, click on the link again and it will load and you can save it to your computer.  Here is a link to the presentation and videos on slideshare.  The videos do not play, unfortunately.




I had a chance in February 2012 to address a group of trucking people looking to use Condition Based Maintenance.  Basically, this is another form of big data looking to glean information from all the data the maintenance people have access to.  I argued in this presentation, that this is not really new.  We’ve been using some of the same techniques for years already to control the vehicle and to provide remote diagnostics.  Much of what is done, by law, to monitor the emissions system falls into this category.

Future Truck/Far Horizon March 10, 2014

This presentation discusses the timing of current and future fuel economy regulations for medium and heavy duty trucks/tractors.  The purpose is to encourage input to the regulatory process in the next 6 months.  Also covered are some future technologies of interest.  Focus is on trucks/tractors to be produced after 2025.

S11 Tech Session March 11, 2014 Fuel Efficiency and Vehicle Emissions Regulations: Now and for the Foreseeable Future

I had the opportunity to put together a session of 5 speakers on fuel economy and vehicle emissions regulations for the Technology and Maintenance Council meeting.

Here are my opening words:

Slide 1:  Title Slide

Slide 2

  • This is an open meeting of the Technology & Maintenance Council, held in accordance with ATA Antitrust Guidelines which are listed in your meeting packet.
  • Audio or video recordings are not permitted at this session. However, photography is permissible.
  • The opinions expressed in this meeting are those of the individual and not necessarily the opinion of his/her company nor of TMC unless stated otherwise.

Slide 3

Constructive Comments Are Always Appreciated!

TMC welcomes your comments, but please make certain that they are constructive and appropriate before you turn in your evaluation sheet!

Thank You for Your Cooperation!

Slide 4

For 25 years our industry has had a focus on reducing emissions and increasing on board diagnostics.  On the negative side, we’ve been impacted with

  • Increased fluid costs
  • Increased costs of acquisition of new trucks
  • Possibly reduced residual values
  • More downtime
  • Increased maintenance costs

And yet, we’ve seen significant improvement in the quality of our air and improvement in fuel economy to well above 6 miles per gallon.

Slide 5

Ten years ago, the EPA formed the SmartWay voluntary program.  As of today, over 3,000 companies participate in this unique program.  They include all types of companies involved in moving freight–OEMs, Shippers, Logistics companies, Truck, Rail and Multimodal carriers, Leasing companies, dealerships, trucking associations and more.  As a voluntary program, it claims significant reductions in CO2, oil and fuel costs.  Beginning January 2010, California made certain parts of the voluntary program mandatory for some tractors and trailers hauling freight in their state.

Slide 6

3 years ago, President Obama announced the first ever fuel economy regulations for commercial vehicles.  This is a more balanced approach with the formulation of new regulations for Green House Gas and Fuel Economy with the EPA and NHTSA working cooperatively.  These new Phase I regulations, began to take effect in January of this year and continue to take effect until the middle of 2019.

Slide 7

But, that is not the end of the story.

In June of last year, President Obama issued his Climate Action Plan and committed to additional fuel economy regulations for commercial vehicles.

Slide 8

In January President Obama’s State of the Union Address included that same commitment to additional fuel economy regulations and encouragement for alternatively fueled vehicles

Slide 9

And, just last month, President Obama, by executive order, committed the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to work together, and with the California Air Resources Board, to issue new rules by March 2016..

Slide 10

I’m Paul Menig, CEO of Tech-I-M.  I will be your moderator today for this techical session on Fuel Efficiency and Vehicle Emissions Regulations:  Now and for the Foreseeable Future

Slide 11

So, where do we go from here?  Will our future trucks need to be powered by hydrogen and float on electromagnetic rails, emitting only water vapor like an electronic cigarette?

Slide 12

Or will it have an electrically powered turbine engine with a single seat in the middle of the vehicle like this concept truck?

Slide 13

Will it go beyond the DOE SuperTruck demo vehicles now being rolled out by the major participants?

Slide 14

Stephan Lemieux has been with the California Air Resources Board for over 18 years and is currently the Manager On-Road Heavy Duty Diesel Section of the California Air Resources Board. His group is responsible for the development of requirements for regulation of emissions  for new on-road heavy-duty diesel engines. His group developed California’s Heavy Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Regulation, also known as the “Tractor-trailer Greenhouse Gas Regulation.”

Dwayne Haug is currently Associate Vice President for Equipment Purchasing at Werner Enterprises.  He has a wealth of experience in fleet management and maintenance, having been President of Silvey Refrigerated Carriers, and of Ellsworth Freight Lines before joining Werner in 1990.  Dwayne has helped make Werner Enterprises one of the top five truckload carriers in the United States with over 7,000 tractors.  Trust me when I say he is a force to be reckoned with in negotiations.

Scott Webb leads the continuous improvement efforts at Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) including people, processes and systems development, optimization, data science and training.  Prior to joining MVT, he held executive positions with P&L responsibility at Frozen Food Express and NFI Industries.  He began his career at BNSF Railway where he served in finance, business development, marketing, sales and train operations.

Arvon Mitcham is program manager for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.  In his 19 plus years there, he has established himself as an expert on light duty On Board Diagnostics.  He’s been a team leader for light duty vehicle emissions and off-cycle technologies.  On the commercial vehicle side, he’s been the team leader for aerodynamics testing.

Sam Waltzer is an Environmental Engineer in the Technology Assessment Center at the Environmental Protection Agency.  With a strong background in physics and aeronautical engineering, he has focused the last 15 years on market-based and partnership programs to reduce pollution from power plants and heavy-duty trucks.  He joined the SmartWay program in 2008 and is currently its Technology Team Leader.  I encourage you to stay till the end today, as Sam has some new, hot-off-the-press, information on SmartWay to share with us.

Kolman’s Korner Interview

Interview with David Kolman on future truck technology, including wearable computers for drowsy driver alert and heads up displays.

ATA Technology Summit — Far Horizon Future Truck 2025

We surveyed experience fleet decision makers that have lived through past technology changes.  We asked over 150 questions of them regarding their expectations for a new truck tractor to be built in 2025.  This is a partial summary of the results that was presented at the ATA Technology Summit in Dallas, TX December 4-6, 2013.

Designing Tomorrow’s On/Off-Highway Tractors

As part of an executive panel at the annual Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress in Chicago, I represented the outlook of the on-highway vehicle OEM.  This is my presentation to the group highlighting the need to understand the fleet customer and his pain points.  A 7 forces analysis can be done for every business that includes

1. Internal operations

2.  Suppliers

3.  Customers

4.  Competitors

5.  Threats of substitution

6.  Government regulations

7.  Impact of technology

Here is a link to the words I spoke.  When the new window opens up, click on the link again and it will load and you can save it to your computer.  Paul Menig Speech

Far Horizon Future Truck

One of my activities is to co-chair the Far Horizon task force of the Future Truck Study Group for the Technology and Maintenance Council.  As part of that, I made a short presentation on some interesting technology I see impacting trucking and trucks in the next 10 years.  It covers how we pay for things, wearable computing, flexible displays, cameras, autonomous vehicles, super capacitors, transmissions and freemium business models.  It also documents the current state-of-the-art vehicle of CR England as a best-in-class running vehicles today, so that we can compare in the future to where we started in 2013.

The Future Networked Vehicle Video

An alternative to looking at the slides and reading through the words is to view this video that is roughly 1 hour in length.  Enjoy.

The Future Networked Vehicle Video

Plan Predictor (TM) — Learn how to make your BIG idea a winner!!!

Too often, great product ideas don’t succeed, whether they are done in a corporate setting or they are done by a startup financed by millions of dollars.  Why not?  Could you have done something different to make it a success rather than a failure?  You bet.  Try testing your entire business plan, not just your marketing strategy, early to find the flaws and correct them.

EnVISIONeering — Leveraging Technology for Future Innovation

I had the opportunity to present to the local IEEE Technology Management Chapter.  Trying to predict the future can be very difficult.  Yet, that is what is expected of forward looking companies, angel investors, governments and others.  Here are some insights to this precarious activity.  Here are the words for the presentation.  Words for Envisioneering — Leveraging Technology for Future Innovation  When the new window pops up, click on the link (again) and you will get to a .pdf that can be saved and opened in Adobe Acrobat.  Links for the videos are shown on the slides.  Enjoy.

The Future Networked Vehicle

I had a chance to present some thoughts on the past and future of the electronics on trucks at a Zonar Systems conference this year.  The term or phrase “electronic architecture” is not one that is easy to understand.  It’s also used for the information technology world when we talk about the architecture of the internet.  This presentation is intended to be both informative and entertaining, without getting into gory detail.  Yet, for those that are more technical and geeky, there are a couple of interesting slides.  To get the most out of the presentation, read along with this document — Zonar Presentation Word Triggers.  When the new window pops up, click on the link (again) and you will get to a .pdf that can be saved and opened in Adobe Acrobat.

Future Truck Ideas are Here Today

I had a chance to present some ideas and information related to future trucks to the TMC Future Truck Committee.  Predicting the future can seem difficult.  By studying how long it takes for technology to move from concept to production to acceptance, you can realize that items that are prototypes and ideas today, may become production in the future.  But, it will likely take 15 years or more for it to happen.


Driving without Distraction

I had a chance to present some webinar information along with Annette Sandberg, the former administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Fleet Owner Magazine hosted the event, and Motorola sponsored this particular session.  Here are the materials that I presented.  For the complete webinar, including Annette’s presentation and the audio, please go to the Fleet Owner website.  They keep their webinars for about a year.  It should be available until March 2014.

Technology & Maintenance Council Far Horizon Tech Session

How do you plan for the long range future that could be as far away as 10-15 years? That’s the challenge in trucking with development times of years and high expectations for durability and reliability. Regulations in this market are promulgated years in advance of when new vehicles must meet them. In fact, the government is actively working on regulations now that will not take effect until 2022! See some of how future developments are anticipated.

Strategic Planning

An overview of strategic planning with public information from Daimler on how it is implemented consistently from top to bottom in a large corporation. Example of the impact of a bad strategy decision using Navistar’s decision against selective catalytic reduction for engine emissions. Tools frequently used for strategic planning.