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Let's talk about small things

Doroga Road Magazine. Current Issue.

"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."- Steve Jobs. Tractor and trailer manufacturers have gone a long way to improve the design of their equipment constantly keeping fuel efficiency, productivity, hundreds of other things and their competitors in mind. These days, the owner operators or fleet managers are able to select from a wide range of tractor and trailer configurations while considering their specific job needs and comfort and convenience of the tractor's cab.

I don't think that there is such a fierce competition amongst reefer tank manufacturers. And there is probably none or next to nothing between those who are making gages for reefers' tanks. Otherwise their product would be much better than the gages that have been used in our reefer tanks for ages.

Look at this gage: the scale is small in diameter, the glass is easy to break, the arrow-leg is prone to fade, but the most annoying thing - it is sometimes very difficult to determine which side of the scale the arrow is on. Is it on far right when the tank is full, or on the opposite side when tank is empty? As one can imagine, making a mistake here might be very costly and even dangerous. Quite often, drivers who know they cannot rely on a gage unscrew the cap off the tank and immerse a stick or a tree branch into the dye diesel to make sure the tank has some fuel in it. Not a pleasant thing to do especially in harsh winter conditions.

Another thing is ability for a driver to set up a reefer temperature in different scales - Fahrenheit or Celsius. While average North American drivers and most of the shippers use the Fahrenheit temperature scale, there are increasing amounts of people in that are born outside of North America who are used to Celsius. Not to mention that practically every shipper in the Canadian province of Quebec, due to their French heritage, is using Celsius temperature on their shipping documents. Some US shippers are practicing that as well. There were so many mistakes made as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars of temperature sensitive products spoiled when drivers just mixed these two scales! Still a vast majority of the reefer trailers in our fleets displaying temperature only in one scale Fahrenheit.

Such a small elements like a simple switch from one scale to another on a reefer display and improvement in design and durability of a tank gage will make this part of driver's job simpler and less confusing. In return, helping shippers and carriers save thousands and thousands of dollars and at the same time make North American food chain safer than it is today.

By Serge Vankevich