Fleet Maintenance - 12
otherwise - Navistar's Nachtman says the selection is typically based on several factors including
strength requirements for the application, cost,
serviceability, paintability, weight, temperature,
Volvo Trucks, for example, is using a variety
of composite materials including plastic and
"It's the partnerships with our suppliers that help
us determine which type of material should be
used," says Chris Stadler, product marketing manager at Volvo Trucks North America, which offers a full
range of medium to heavy duty trucks. "We make
sure the materials used address the best fit, form,
and functionality. We also use different materials to
enhance the aesthetics of the truck and investigate
composites that could improve the value of the vehicle such as the costs and weight of the components.
Testing and validation on these materials is always
being performed. We will not sacrifice the safety,
quality, and integrity of our products."
Case in point, Volvo Trucks incorporates a highstrength steel cab because the company's core
value is safety.
"We want to keep our customers and their drivers as safe as possible," Stadler says.
For tractor-trailer manufacturers and the fleets
they serve, cost-benefit analysis is key.
"When you think about the upfront cost of a
vehicle, steel is more cost-effective than aluminum, magnesium, and reinforced composites,"
says Jody Hall, vice president of the automotive
aftermarket for the American Iron and Steel
For fleets in long-haul or line-haul applications,
however, where fuel efficiency and cargo-carrying
capacity are paramount, the added upfront cost
could be offset by longer-term fuel savings and
There is no disputing the fact that composites are lighter weight. However, Hall says
recent advances in steel are offsetting some of
"Over the past four years, steel strength has been
increased 10 times," Hall points out. "Because of
that increased strength, we can reduce thickness.
That is how we're able to achieve lightweighting."
Regardless of the degree to which composites
are used in heavy duty trucks, it's important for
technicians to understand what composites are
and how they differ from materials such as steel
"Any composite is basically a fiber-reinforced
resin system," Abaris Training's Hoke explains.
"You can have either glass, carbon, or Kevlar fibers."
In the automotive industry, Hoke says the most
common composite is fiberglass. Fiberglass is
the least expensive of the three; carbon fiber can
actually cost up to 10 times as much as fiberglass.
Fiberglass is also quite effective at resisting impact
damage. "The only real disadvantage is that fiberglass is heavier than carbon fiber, though it is still
considerably lighter than steel," Hoke notes.
One might jump to the conclusion that because
they are lighter weight, composites must lack
strength and durability. As Hoke points out,
this is not the case if the composites are engineered correctly. As an example, he points to the
Formula 1 racecar.
"It is almost entirely constructed of composite
materials," Hoke says.
The result is a lightweight vehicle that is still
capable of withstanding violent crashes.
Hoke also points to an incident in Texas, where
a Proterra electric bus was struck broadside by a
1. A technician rolls out air and compresses a fiberglass patch.
»»Proterra is using both carbon-fiber and
fiberglass composites in its electric buses (see
below) - materials that are used based on
design and loading requirements. Pictured above
as a finished product is the 40' Catalyst Bus
that features a carbon-fiber-reinforced body.
Photos courtesy of Proterra
"The collision crushed in the side of the bus to
a certain extent, but not as badly as you'd think it
would have," Hoke says. "The bus was actually able
to drive away after that, and all passengers walked
away too. You can make composites extremely
crash-worthy if you design properly for it."
That said, any damage incurred is still going to
need to be repaired.
Continued Page 14
2. The completed patch on a fiberglass panel.
Photos courtesy of Lord Fusor
12 Fleet Maintenance | March 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fleet Maintenance
Uptime: Get Involved
The Role of Composites in Heavy Duty Trucking
Best Practices to Establish a Total Vehicle Alignment Program
Document Management in the Digital Age
Smoke Out Cabin Leaks
Four Keys to a Successful Extended Drain Interval Program
Management: Be Aware of Maintenance Scheduling Challenges in the Shop
Training: What Does Trucking Have to Do With STEM?
Fleet Parts & Components
Tools & Equipment
Guest Editorial: The Ripple Effect of Unplanned Downtime
Fleet Maintenance - 1
Fleet Maintenance - 2
Fleet Maintenance - 3
Fleet Maintenance - 4
Fleet Maintenance - 5
Fleet Maintenance - 6
Fleet Maintenance - 7
Fleet Maintenance - Uptime: Get Involved
Fleet Maintenance - 9
Fleet Maintenance - The Role of Composites in Heavy Duty Trucking
Fleet Maintenance - 11
Fleet Maintenance - 12
Fleet Maintenance - 13
Fleet Maintenance - 14
Fleet Maintenance - 15
Fleet Maintenance - Best Practices to Establish a Total Vehicle Alignment Program
Fleet Maintenance - 17
Fleet Maintenance - 18
Fleet Maintenance - A1
Fleet Maintenance - A2
Fleet Maintenance - A3
Fleet Maintenance - A4
Fleet Maintenance - 19
Fleet Maintenance - 20
Fleet Maintenance - 21
Fleet Maintenance - Document Management in the Digital Age
Fleet Maintenance - 23
Fleet Maintenance - 24
Fleet Maintenance - 25
Fleet Maintenance - 26
Fleet Maintenance - 27
Fleet Maintenance - Smoke Out Cabin Leaks
Fleet Maintenance - 29
Fleet Maintenance - Four Keys to a Successful Extended Drain Interval Program
Fleet Maintenance - 31
Fleet Maintenance - 32
Fleet Maintenance - 33
Fleet Maintenance - Management: Be Aware of Maintenance Scheduling Challenges in the Shop
Fleet Maintenance - Training: What Does Trucking Have to Do With STEM?
Fleet Maintenance - Fleet Parts & Components
Fleet Maintenance - 37
Fleet Maintenance - 38
Fleet Maintenance - 39
Fleet Maintenance - 40
Fleet Maintenance - 41
Fleet Maintenance - Tools & Equipment
Fleet Maintenance - 43
Fleet Maintenance - 44
Fleet Maintenance - 45
Fleet Maintenance - 46
Fleet Maintenance - 47
Fleet Maintenance - 48
Fleet Maintenance - Classifieds
Fleet Maintenance - Guest Editorial: The Ripple Effect of Unplanned Downtime
Fleet Maintenance - 51
Fleet Maintenance - 52
Fleet Maintenance - B1
Fleet Maintenance - B2