Truck­ing’s come a long way

TRAN­SALP TEST: How does the old mea­sure up against the new?

Weekend Witness - - Trucks & Trucking -

CHUR (Switzer­land) — “In 10 years’ time, com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles will con­sume 20% less fuel and re­duce CO2 emis­sions by the same amount,” said An­dreas Ren­schler, the board of man­age­ment mem­ber re­spon­si­ble for Daim­ler Trucks and Daim­ler Buses, dur­ing a com­par­a­tive truck drive across the San Bernardino Pass in Switzer­land re­cently.

His state­ment set the bar pretty high for en­gi­neers. To reach these goals, they will have to pull out all the stops be­cause dur­ing the past sev­eral decades tra­di­tional ve­hi­cle technology has al­ready been pushed to the lim­its.

A truck from the six­ties is hardly com­pa­ra­ble with the long-haul ve­hi­cle of to­day, as was clearly demon­strated by the Mercedes-Benz San Bernardino Pass com­par­a­tive drive ti­tled Tran­salp Truck­ing 2010.

A mod­ern Mercedes-Benz Ac­tros 1844 and a 1964 Mercedes-Benz LP 1624 were driven on a long-haul route from Stuttgart to Mi­lan and back. En­gi­neers’ mea­sure­ments showed not only a nearly 50% dif­fer­ence in fuel con­sump­tion and CO2 emis­sions per ton of pay­load, but also a drop in par­tic­u­late mat­ter and ni­tro­gen ox­ide emis­sions of up to 98%. The phys­i­cal and mental strain on the driver has also been sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced over the last 46 years, while trans­port per­for­mance has dou­bled and driv­ing safety has im­proved sub­stan­tially.

Dur­ing the ap­prox­i­mately 1 160 kilo­me­tre test drive from Stuttgart to Mi­lan and back, the Mercedes-Benz LP 1624, which was one of the world’s most ad­vanced trucks in the six­ties, con­sumed 2,34 litres over a dis­tance of 100 kilo­me­tres per ton trans­ported, al­most 20% more fuel than the Ac­tros 1844 (1,27 litres).

Ef­fi­cient yet fast

Per­for­mance and torque in­creases were al- so marked. The Ac­tros trav­eled at an av­er­age of 76 km/h while car­ry­ing a pay­load of 25 tons. The truck from 1964, on the other hand, car­ried only 16 tons and trav­elled at an av­er­age speed of 58 km/h.

The Ac­tros took 12 hours and 36 min­utes to travel the 1 159,6-kilo­me­tre route, while the LP 1624 took al­most eight hours longer.

The vet­eran truck only man­aged about 29 km/h on the way up the San Bernardino Pass and no more than 36 km/h on the way down. The Ac­tros trav­elled at about 45 km/h up­hill and up to 77 km/h go­ing down.

Driv­ing safety

Great ad­vances have been made in the devel­op­ment of brake technology too. The brak­ing dis­tance needed to de­cel­er­ate the Ac­tros from 80 to zero km/h was 38,5 me­tres, whereas the LP 1624 needed 56 me­tres. The dif­fer­ence is com­pa­ra­ble to the length of four pas­sen­ger cars.

Re­duced driver strain

Fea­tures that truck­ers would once have called lux­u­ri­ous are in fact im­por­tant ba­sic equip­ment for re­duc­ing phys­i­cal and mental strain.

Whereas clutches had to be pressed with a force of about 30 kilo­ponds for each gearshift years ago, the truck to­day has a fully au­to­mated trans­mis­sion.

The Ac­tros Me­gas­pace cab also has an ex­tremely low noise level of 63 dBA at 80 km/h, which isn’t much more than a pro­nounced purr, com­pared to the 72 dBA mea­sured in the LP 1624.

Quicker re­sponse times

Driv­ers now are un­der much less strain than in the trucks of past decades, and sys­tems help pre­vent some stress­ful sit­u­a­tions al­to­gether.

For the first time, ob­jec­tive mea­sure­ments were con­ducted in a truck dur­ing the Tran­salp Truck­ing 2010. Elec­troen­cephalo­graphic mea­sure­ments (EEGs) of the driv­ers’ brain­waves gave in­sights into the mental strain suf­fered by truck­ers in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions and showed that in the older truck it took the driver up to 400 mil­lisec­onds longer to re­spond to sen­sory stim­uli than in the Ac­tros.

In a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion, this dif­fer­ence would mean that at 80 km/h, brak­ing of the truck would only be­gin nine me­tres later.

With to­day’s high­way traf­fic, it is clear what the con­se­quences of such a de­lay could be.

— Supplied

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A mod­ern Mercedes­Benz Ac­tros 1844 and a 1964 Mercedes­Benz LP 1624 were com­pared on a long­haul route through the Alps. Among other ad­vance­ments, the fuel con­sump­tion by trucks was shown to have come down by 30% since 1960.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

For the first time, ob­jec­tive mea­sure­ments with elec­troen­cephalo­graphic mea­sure­ments (EEGs) of the driv­ers’ brain­waves were made to ob­tain in­sights into the mental strain suf­fered by truck­ers in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

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