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Germany opens first stretch of ‘electric highway’ for trucks



A specially designed hybrid truck travels along a 6-mile section of the Autobahn near Frankfurt, Germany, running on electricity from the experimental eHighway system. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Way back in 1982, Eddy Grant encouraged us all to “rock down to Electric Avenue.”

In more recent times, the trucking industry has increasingly set itself on the road to a more electric future, with battery life being one of the main technological hindrances, especially since charging stations are still few and far between.

Germany has moved forward with its own version of Electric Avenue with the development of an eHighway system by which trucks can draw electricity from overhead cables. On May 7, the the German government introduced the system on a roughly 6-mile stretch of the Autobahn near Frankfurt, between the city’s airport and a nearby industrial park.

This is the first test of the system, which has been in development since 2010, on a public highway in Germany. Smaller-scale tests have been done in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2016 and in Carson, California, near the Port of Los Angeles, in 2017.

Currently, one truck is operating on the system, with four more trucks expected to join it by 2020. The eHighway system is also being installed in two other locations, as well, and will be tested through 2022. The German government will decide whether to expand the system.

To get this far, Germany has spent just under $15.7 million on installing the system and invested another $77 million in designing the hybrid trucks that will use it.

The system was designed by Munich-based Siemens AG, is somewhat similar to overhead electric systems used with trains and cable cars. The hybrid trucks were built by Volkswagen AG’s Scania truck division.

The trucks are fitted with conductor rods, called pantographs, on the top of the cabin. Sensors detect when the overhead wires are available, and the pantographs are then extended upward. The truck must be traveling at 90 kilometers per hour (56 mph) or less for the connection to be made.

Once connected, the truck draws from the 670-volt direct-current cables, and the truck runs entirely on electricity. Meanwhile, the truck’s batteries are recharged so that once disconnected, the truck can continue to run on electricity before switching over to diesel.

Siemens has estimated that a truck owner could save $22,370 on fuel for every 100,000 kilometers (62,137 miles) driven. The big motivator for the German government, however, is its potential environmental impact by reducing CO2 and other emissions.

Slashing carbon emissions from transportation is a key part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Truck transportation, meanwhile, is the world’s fastest growing source of oil demand, according to the International Transport Forum. Road transportation of goods is projected to account for 15% of the increase in global CO2 emissions until 2050.

Germany has set goals to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, and up to 95% by 2050.

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McLeod introduces details of new release of LoadMaster, PowerBroker



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — McLeod Software Monday released version 19.1 of its LoadMaster Enterprise, LoadMaster LTL and PowerBroker software solutions.

With the release of Version 19.1, McLeod Software has introduced LoadMaster Driver Choice, a tool fleets can use to give drivers the ability to record their load preferences, effectively requesting the loads that are the best match for those preferences, according to Kristan Hill, marketing manager.

LoadMaster Driver Choice also gives carriers the ability to offer drivers choices about available loads when possible, all while ensuring their success with any load offered to them, she said.

For owner operators in those fleets using Driver Choice, it means their carrier is giving the driver better tools to “run their business” successfully within the fleet, especially when paired with the McLeod Driver Mobile App and the information that app provides about pay, and the ways it expedites the entire settlement process.

LoadMaster Trip Management is also being introduced as part of McLeod’s Version 19.1 release. The new Trip Management module gives carriers the tools to interactively plan details of trips with the driver’s input, and actively manage those trips while they are under way.

“Using a driver’s current Hours of Service and position information, a trip plan is created and displayed in LoadMaster,” Hill said. “Taking into account road conditions, live and historical traffic patterns, and driver breaks provides better visibility for customers to enhance the accuracy of real-time estimated time of arrival at customer stops and actual arrival time at locations, giving planners and driver managers the ability to proactively deal with potential service incidents at future stops.”

The trip plan feeds McLeod’s ETA/out-of-route module to let the carrier’s staff know when trucks are late for scheduled stops or out of their recommended routes. It also interacts with McLeod’s existing driver feasibility functions to enhance the accuracy of planning.

McLeod’s driver feasibility function determines whether or not a driver can physically pick up and deliver the load on time based on their current position, the distances involved, the appointment windows for pick-up and delivery, and their available HOS to accomplish the trip. Hill said using all of this information to account for events, rest breaks, delays, detention, changing situations in weather, and even rerouting when necessary, allows planners to generate a significantly better dispatch trip plan. The interactive nature of McLeod’s new Trip Management module gives the driver the opportunity to be part of the planning process.

The delivery routing optimization module in LoadMaster LTL now optimizes the sequence of deliveries routed on a local movement. Route Optimization takes a set of routed deliveries and optimizes the stops based on minimal drive time, while also considering appointment commitment freight, a location’s open and close times, and the time spent unloading per stop. This module also considers potential turn time

McLeod Software offers PowerBroker users a new integration with HubTran to quickly process incoming carrier documents and invoices. Powerbroker communicates load and carrier data to HubTran and returns approved invoice data and documents to PowerBroker. When the carrier sends in invoices and supporting documents for billing, the audit process is completed more quickly to allow brokers to bill faster with less cost and effort from the back office.

Hill also said McLeod Software is also introducing expanded integration solutions with Manhattan Associates. A new interface offers visibility to Manhattan’s Load Analyzer scoring metrics upon receiving an EDI load tender. Tenders can be accepted and orders created automatically based upon predetermined score criteria. Another key interface introduced in version 19.1 is Manhattan Profit Analyzer. LoadMaster general ledger revenue and expense information is sent to analyze the key factors affecting profitability and target problem areas with poor utilization. With the Manhattan Fuel & Route interface, LoadMaster version 19.1 will automatically communicate movement data and current fuel levels to Fuel & Route during dispatch to determine optimal door-to-door routing and fuel recommendations while balancing driver requests and preferences.

For more information, visit


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PrePass adds ALERTS to PrePass MOTION bypass app



With ALERTS, drivers receive notifications when they are approaching areas with high winds, steep grades, traffic work zones and no commercial vehicle access roads. (Courtesy: PREPASS)

PHOENIX —PrePass has rolled out enhancements to its PrePass MOTION bypass app.

The addition of PrePass ALERTS gives truck drivers roadway safety notifications and is an added no-cost benefit for PrePass customers.

With ALERTS, drivers receive notifications when they are approaching areas with high winds, steep grades, traffic work zones and no commercial vehicle access roads. ALERTS is available as part of the MOTION app on both Android and iOS powered smart phones, tablets and selected in-cab telematics devices.

As the non-profit provider of PrePass services, HELP Inc. has always been about safety, first and foremost, since its origin more than 25 years ago, according to Mark Doughty, president & COO of HELP Inc., who said the addition of ALERTS takes it a step further.

“This upgrade to PrePass MOTION gives drivers very important safety information as they travel down the road to better prepare them for potentially adverse driving conditions,” Doughty said. “Thanks to the input of our state Department of Transportation partners, enforcement and trucking industry partners, we quickly responded to a need for such alerts, and are the only weigh station bypass service provider offering these safety enhancements.”

PrePass MOTION can be used as a standalone app or in conjunction with the PrePass transponder for weigh station bypassing. RFID transponders continue to be the industry gold standard, with 99.9% reliability and access to both toll payment services and third-party bypass networks. The MOTION weigh station bypass app is an enhancement that offers additional bypass sites and increased functionality, including ALERTS.

“When traditional transponders and MOTION are paired together, customers get the most complete and reliable bypass service available anywhere,” Doughty said. “Most importantly, PrePass ALERTS provide information that can immediately and directly improve highway safety.”

For more information about PrePass MOTION and ALERTS, visit

As a North American non-profit public/private partnership, HELP serves the trucking industry and commercial enforcement. HELP has invested more than $700 million to deploy PrePass weigh station bypassing, PrePass Plus electronic toll payment and other truck safety technologies nationwide.

For more information, visit HELP at


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Phillips introduces dual pole socket connection



the Dual Pole QCS2 was designed with the same corrosion fighting technology as the original Phillips QCS2. (Courtesy: PHILLIPS INDUSTRIES)

SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. — Phillips Industries has introduced the Dual Pole QCS2 Quick-Change Socket with what the company calls superior corrosion protection for dual pole applications such as liftgate systems.

It joins the family of weather-proofing products designed to solve the challenges the industry faces with corrosion.

Any open connection on a vehicle is susceptible to corrosion, including the liftgate connection, according to Megan Vincent, marketing manager.  Corrosion build up in the liftgate connection can be even more devastating than in the seven-way connection, because it requires a larger amperage draw which increases the chemical reaction.

Corrosion can “choke” the charge to the liftgate leading to possible downtime when there is not enough power to cycle the liftgate, or can even create the potential for a thermal event, she said.

To combat this, the Dual Pole QCS2 was designed with the same corrosion fighting technology as the original Phillips QCS2, initially developed for the seven-way connection when fleets began seeing the impact of harsh deicers introduced to treat the roads.

“The Dual Pole QCS2 consists of a dual pole harness boot, completely molded to the liftgate harness cable, which grips the easy to plug-in socket and holds it in place,” Vincent said. “The socket, with non-corrosive housing and a completely sealed inner cavity, blocks moisture and contaminants between the plug and socket union, keeping corrosion out!  An additional feature this product offers, that other dual pole sockets on the market today do not have, are offset pins.  Pins that are offset prevent accidental arcing.  With a longer negative pin and shorter “hot” pin, the connection is grounded before power is circulated through the system on the positive pin, thus avoiding the potential for any sparks.”

The Dual Pole QCS2 is currently available from Phillips authorized dealers for dual pole connections on the tractor side, with the boot in a 6 o’clock angle position in 2- and 4-gauge options.

Vincent said for the “ultimate protection against corrosion,” companies should consider combining the dual pole QCS2 socket connection with the WEATHER-TITE M2 dual pole liftgate electrical assembly to keep corrosion out and liftgates cycling for on-time deliveries.

Based in Santa Fe Springs, Phillips Industries is a manufacturer of  electrical and air brake system components, as well as electronic solutions for communicating vehicle data to fleets and their drivers for the commercial truck and trailer industry.

For more information, visit




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