7 Over-The-Road Trends Impacting The Construction Industry
Big changes underway in the design and manufacture of heavy-duty trucks are destined to affect the construction industry as well. Read on to learn about seven of these trends and how they might impact your decisions about the trucks you choose for your construction business.
New trucks on the market are filled with features designed to save time and money. The question is: will the savings designed for over-the-road markets bring equivalent value to the construction industry?
Some construction trucks are used primarily to haul equipment to job sites. They are essentially support tools, not revenue-generators. Other trucks do directly generate revenue, because they are an integral part of your work process. Good examples are paving, site prep and quarry work.
How you use your truck alters how you recognize it financially. If it’s a support unit, you spread expenses over multiple work sites. If it’s specific to a particular project, all the costs belong to that job. How you apply the numbers affects your payback period and ultimate return on investment.
As you’re considering purchasing new or used trucks for your business, keep these over-the-road trends in mind:
Amenities are always appreciated, but they aren’t always pertinent. A number of OEMs offer pared-down models that incorporate all the essentials but not many frills. The truck costs less, but are you trading off features you’ll miss later on? For instance, the more time drivers spend behind the wheel, the more crucial comfort becomes. An uncomfortable driver may be inattentive, and they may look for a new job that offers more pleasant surroundings.
If the truck’s role is hauling, power and reliability probably trump driver convenience. A Class 8 truck with a smaller engine/transmission could be a cost-effective choice.
This government initiative aims to reduce freight fuel efficiency by half, and it’s aimed straight at over-the-road truckers. But construction industry trucks don’t travel thousands of miles over paved asphalt, so your priorities are different. And it will take much longer for you to amortize the cost of all that upscale technology. On the other hand, some SuperTruck advances can boost your productivity and bottom line, too.
- Choosing a smaller engine reduces weight.
- Lighter-but-still-durable bodies and lift systems reduce weight.
- Only running engine-driven pumps, compressors, etc. saves fuel, as does less idling.
- Some aerodynamics features can improve mileage.
- Telematics can reduce maintenance costs and down time.
Overkill is expensive. One of the most prominent over-the-road trends is “right-sizing” engines – choosing smaller displacement without sacrificing performance. Less weight, better fuel economy, plenty of power and torque. If you don’t require your trucks to work under continuous high-demand circumstances, you could captures significant savings here.
OEMs are concentrating efforts here, designing integrated engine-transmission-powertrain systems that function smoothly together to provide better performance, lower fuel usage and less engine wear. You save across the board, and you could be more productive, because these systems are engineered to operate in the “sweet spot.” Interested? Focus on the engine’s torque curve when you’re spec’ing your next truck.
Government regulations include reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. OEMs are meeting this challenge with natural gas and hybrid drive trucks. Every engine manufacturer now meets GHG14 standards, but new regulations designed to further boost fuel efficiency are just around the corner. Whether the advantages of various fuel-related technologies outweigh the cons depends on how you expect to use the truck.
Bodies that fit.
Increasingly complex up-front changes to trucks can give body builders and upfitters headaches, if specs don’t match up. Your best advice is to communicate exact requirements when spec’ing a new vehicle.
So far, adoption of advanced telematics has been random within the construction industry. But you can see distinct benefits here – fault alerts with severity indicators tell you when it’s safe to keep operating your truck, so you don’t waste precious downtime unnecessarily.