When the first Fleet Technical Congress debuted at The Work Truck Show 2018, the goal was to present fleet managers with the latest technology solutions and management insights from industry leaders, and it did: representatives from truck fleets, OEMs, tech companies, and other suppliers offered their view on data and the future of fleet.
For its second year, The Work Truck Show announced a few changes to the way the Fleet Technical Congress was organized — one, attendees were now welcome to attend both the Fleet Technical Congress and Green Fleet Summit; and two, the Fleet Technical Congress sessions would be organized around two themes: emergency planning and vehicle design.
Dealing with Natural Disasters
The morning sessions were themed around emergency planning and began with a keynote address from Craig Fugate, former administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
An emergency planning panel featured current and former fleet managers in Florida — an area where emergency planning is vital, especially when hurricane season comes around every year.
Another session presented solutions for creating a fuel contingency plan, as fuel shortages can be a common consequence of emergencies.
Later in the afternoon, Bill Burns of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio shared his experience maintaining generators for the City of Columbus, Ohio. Although this fell under the second half of the day, its theme of keeping generators on and running seemed to fall under the guise of emergency planning and response.
Designing Your Next Truck
After a joint lunch for Fleet Technical Congress and Green Fleet Summit attendees, the event continued with a series of sessions about the future of vehicle design.
A panel of experts from the supplier side and user side discussed the ways that delivery vehicles are changing to meet the needs of the last mile. They specifically addressed the people, technology, equipment, and processes that affect delivery, and highlighted recent news and innovations, including the adoption of e-bikes and drones for delivery.
Two representatives from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory — a division of the U.S. Department of Energy — shared the ways that they partner with fleets to help them determine the best vehicle for a job by combining fleet data with real-world circumstances.
George Survant, senior director of fleet relations for NTEA and the emcee for the day’s activities, pointed out NREL’s value as a neutral partner as a government laboratory that does not work on behalf of any legislators.
He also emphasized the need for personalized specs. Although it’s easier to buy 10 identical trucks, the real-world environment should be taken into account. A business in Colorado with employees at the top and bottom of a mountain may require a different power plant, for example.
Integrating Technical Concepts with Green Goals
When the NTEA first introduced the Fleet Technical Congress last year, it made a point to distinguish the event from the already-popular Green Truck Summit.
The first year of programming focused on data and operations and shied away from electrification and alternative fuels.
This year, the sessions incorporated sustainability in a practical way. During a panel session on last-mile delivery vehicle design, industry experts discussed the rise of e-bikes and other eco-friendly options.
This line-blurring was evident at the Green Truck Summit as well. The summit also included a session on vehicle design, and how powertrain choice is only a part of that equation.