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Dropping the clutch on trucks – going the automatic route

Published on: 01 March 2017

Dropping the clutch on trucks – going the automatic route

The growing trend towards automation hasn’t just stayed at cars. Multiple industries are using smart technologies to reduce costs and drive business efficiency. Globally, it appears that sales of automated two-pedal trucks are beginning to inch past those of three-pedal models.

When it comes to driving trucks, and changing gears, it is claimed that by reducing the momentum lost when changing gears, anything from four to seven seconds may be gained for every 400 metres travelled — a saving of time and fuel that can add up over long journeys. Thus, automated transmissions offer a closer approximation of a skilled driver.

Automatic transmissions are only the start!

For example, technological advances such as *Idle, stop - start*, which are just beginning to make the transition from cars to trucks, can also reduce fuel and engine wear and tear.

*Idle, stop - start is technology that automatically shuts down the engine after a short period of idling, typically while standing in traffic, in order to save fuel and reduce engine overuse. *

Pros for fleet owners.

The biggest impact of such technologies will be on the fleet owner, and for them, the arguments for automatic trucks are making more and more sense. For one, automatic transmission reduces the impact of a driver on fuel efficiency, as well as wear and tear on the vehicle. With both fuel and parts increasingly pricey, this is a real incentive for fleet owners.

Another consideration is that clutches wear out the more they are used. Time spent in the repair bay is dead time for fleet-owners – an important consideration in South Africa where road transport is by far the most important part of the logistics mix. Through the removal of the clutch, the repair time that would have been spent on the clutch can now be used in operational time.

Removing the clutch also means that fleet owners can now draw on a wider pool of drivers – making that particular fleet the employer of choice for the best drivers.

Benefits for truck drivers.

Yes, the biggest impact is on fleet owners, but there are benefits for the truck drivers too. Operating the clutch over long periods of time notably increases the physical strain of driving, particularly in heavy traffic. More comfortable driving conditions are likely to mean that drivers are more inclined to pay attention to their driving, with possible safety benefits – and thus, potentially, fewer road incidents.

It makes sense for fleet owners to keep up with the technology curve to improve fuel efficiency, reduce wear and tear, and better the working conditions of their drivers. In the long run, these improvements are likely to have a positive impact on their bottom lines — and could even translate into a more cost-effective insurance profile as technology improves human performance on the road.

To get the right insurance cover for your trucking business, talk to us!