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Are marketing dweebs running the show?

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Vito

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As usual, Puff Daddy said something that got me thinking. Here's what he wrote in this post in the "How many lights?" thread:
Puff Daddy":76oail19 said:
...The old Eaton Fuller 13 speeds had a deep reduction and you could put the truck on this edge of a quarter or that edge, but now the autos either lurch when you release the brake or do nothing which requires you to accelerate to get it to lurch. :x So much for modern technology :suspect:
Well...so much for that attempt to apply modern automatic transmission technology, at least. Modern technology can be phenomenally well-suited to improving the quality of life, but it's never any better than the thinking processes that design it and match it to the proper applications.

Why would someone put an automatic tranny in a mixer truck anyway? I won't even have one in my pickup truck; obviously, there are folks who think about trucks very differently from the way I do. It got me thinking: Did the people who designed that transmission ever intend that it be used in a concrete mixer truck application? If so, it isn't likely they ever actually field-tested it in the real world to confirm the hypothesis, "Hey...maybe this would be good in a mixer truck!"

What seems more likely that they never gave it much consideration in the first place; or if they did, the marketing guys had other ideas, and that's what ended up being the deciding factor in the transmission's being marketed as suitable for that application. I'm not guessing about this. Here are some telling selections from Allison Transmission's marketing brochure for their Rugged Duty Series automatic transmissions for construction industry trucks:

  • Skilled drivers who can finesse a stick shift are rare. With automatics, companies can use drivers with less experience. In addition, by reducing the fatigue caused by constant shifting in stop-and-go driving you increase safety and improve driver retention.
Ah, yes...the dumbing down of product functionality so as to increasingly allow access by those of greater incompetence. Y'all are just a bunch of dumb-ass wimps anyway, so we're gonna make it easy for ya.

Too harsh an assessment? I think not. I'm not suggesting that automatic transmissions are a bad idea for all trucking applications. Remember what we're talking about here. The above quotation is from a marketing brochure for transmissions intended for use not in long-distance, highway-only trucks; rather, these are transmissions purported to be designed specifically for the following kinds of trucks:

It doesn't make sense to me. Haven't any of these people ever actually driven a big truck? (OK...that's a rhetorical question.)

Anyhow, it sure seems they're not focused on what the mixer truck operator needs on the job site; they're thinking about the trip between the ready-mix plant and the job site (direct quotation from Lou Gilbert, manager of North American marketing for Allison):

  • "Every time you shift with a manual you take your foot off the throttle,” Gilbert says. “With an automatic you have full power shifts and gain anywhere from four to seven seconds every quarter mile. Spread those small gains out over an eight-hour day and you'll be getting more work done in the same amount of time."
That's their story, but I question whether that's the way it plays out in the real world. What do you say, PD? Does it really let you deliver more concrete? Seems they're not making any allowance for having to eat up any transit time savings by taking longer to position the truck at the job site. That makes their marketing hype reasonably entertaining reading, but only if you're in the mood for fiction.

But wait...it gets even more entertaining! Here's more marketing-dweeb blather from Allison's slick Rugged Duty Series automatic transmission brochure:

  • Most on/off-highway vehicles spend the majority of their time below 45 mph. And data shows that for every 10% of time spent below 45 mph, an Allison Automatic is nearly 1% more productive.* (emphasis added) If a driver spends 15% of the distance traveled at speeds below 45 mph, this equates to 34.7% of driving time. With an Allison Automatic, productivity would increase nearly 3.5%.*
Of course, the asterisks (*) refer to the usual weasel-worded disclaimer:

  • *Results may vary depending on your operating conditions. See your local Authorized Allison Dealer to find the potential productivity gains for your particular business.
Right, boys. I'll do that. Meanwhile, what if I have some experienced drivers who actually know WTF they're doing? "Impossible", says the Allison marketing dweebs:

  • What the driver does and how the driver behaves are dependent on the equipment he’s given to drive. It’s physically impossible for a driver in a manual- or AMT-equipped vehicle to shift at optimum points and behave in such a way to optimize productivity. An Allison Automatic makes the decision for the driver and makes the right shift at the right time.
Yeah, right...and it factors in weather, road surface conditions, the behavior of other drivers, the piloting requirements at the job site, and it'll even get you more chicks. It does the right thing at the right time, every time. So, listen up, you bean counters; all truck drivers are dumb-asses, but here's your chance to be smarter than they are. You must buy this product now!

And just in case you're not sold yet, here comes your "time savings" as one of the purported advantages of the automatic transmission:

  • A vehicle in an average cycle shifts seven to eight times per mile. With a manual or AMT, the driver loses 14-16 seconds every mile due to power interruptions to the wheels.
Then, in a brilliant burst of legerdemain, they massage that figure into a projected one additional delivery per day, and from there they translate it to an additional $60,000 per year in revenue for your mixer truck:

...and it's all due to the Miracle of the Allison Rugged Duty Series automatic transmission fo' yo' ayuss, boyz an' girlz. And, if you act now, you get this Amazing Chicken Straightener from Popeil (not sold in stores...and for good reason).

The rest of the brochure is filled with similar pap, obviously designed for the bean counters at the corporate level who are most likely to be casting the final yea or nay vote as to whether the prospective buyer decides to spec a manual transmission or an automatic transmission into the new truck purchase. Marketing guys are driving the production process, and accountants are driving the buying decisions. The guy who's driving the actual truck doesn't have much to say about it. They're selling these things with the boast that "...an Allison Automatic is nearly 1% more productive." That's a pantload. There's more than 1% play in the way the real world works. The "advantage" they're selling is buried in the noise floor of day-to-day complexity. I don't see anything in there about what the operator needs at the job site.

I'd love to see the empirical data on ready-mix truck productivity in a comparison before and after switching to automatic transmissions. None of the other "studies show" data are worth a damn. If drivers aren't showing more deliveries per day without increasing their hours on the job, the marketing dweebs are blowing smoke.

Vito
 

Carlos

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I like my manual in my Ford 3/4 ton 4X4. Cathy won't drive it. I can rest my hand on the shifter. I can use the engine to slow me down, saving break pad/shoe wear. I can stop on ice covered roads when an automatic has trouble doing the same, again related to using the engine to transfer controlled breaking to all 4 wheels without locking them up. I can stick it in granny low and turn the truck loose and walk along side it as it's driving itself. :D For the same engine, I get better mileage than both automatics and 1/2 ton's for the same year model. I am smarter than the average bear. :pipe:
 

puros_bran

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They make as litlle sense in On hiway uses as they do in on/off road. The majority of the time I'm in top gear, when I'm not is when I need control.
My MiniVan is equiped with an Auto. My MiniVan never has to manuveur through a tank farm where inches matter and lurches could cause fatalitys. My MiniVan never has to control 46,000lbs of explosive poisen going down a grade. My MiniVan doesn't need to hold 9th going up a 7% 12mile grade.

Marketing hype tells us that 'our product' replaces experiance and is cheaper. In trucking (any variety) experiance safes lifes and property damage.
I wasn't going to share this but I will. (Condensed version) Yesterday I had a near miss, inches, with a carhauler with no brakelights. I took evasive action involving the clutch and steeringwheel. Had I been in an automatic I would have had to grab the stick to disengage the drive, taking a hand off the wheel, a hand off the wheel means less control, argue it if ya want but its true. Less control means inches lost, which would have resulted in an explosian, Not a fun thought. Anyway when I cleared the problem a voice came on the radio. "Driver, when that happens to me someday, I hope I handle it just like you did, that was a piece of work guy"
That's the closest I've ever came out hear to getting a compliment from another driver. I didn't get to enjoy it, my head hurt, my heart was racing, I was sweating. No hell no, keep your automatic. I have no doubt in my mind (remember I've drove them) had I been in an automatic I wouldn't be typing this.
Just my opinion but Nothing replaces experiance, and Automatic have No place in Trucking.
 
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Vito,

Been there, done that. Lived it. The bottom line is 100% the "greater access" thing you touched on. All else is backed into, or outright BS.

Driving big trucks is an insanely difficult way to make a living. Not the actual driving itself, but the lifestyle that accompanies it. All parties on all sides have contrived to push everything they can on the driver, task-wise. It's because of how they're paid (by the job, pound, load, mile, etc). The more they can get the driver to do, the greater the profit for everyone ELSE.

Result? Turnover is constant. 400% per year in some industry segments.

The main impediment to finding new drivers? Yup: an entire generation who grew up on automatic transmissions. And if you didn't learn on a manual when creating new neural pathways was easy, learning how later is a bitch. Especially when every shift must be double clutched, and there are up to 21 gears. You have NEVER seen frustration to equal that of someone who doesn't INTUITIVELY FEEL the mechanics involved in matching crankshaft, mainshaft, driveshaft, and axle rpm. (Like PB, I was a company driver trainer.)

Making trucks easier to drive does little to ease the stress of the job, but lets the trucking companies massively increase the size of the pool of people from which they can recruit. The irony is, the autoshift concept creates as many new problems as it solves. But that's another subject.
 

puros_bran

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One of many Robert storys but you'll appreciate it VaL.

Robert was a 6'7 giant kid from Puerto Rico. He was assigned to me, great kid really wanted to drive so he could get his family up here. I showed him how to double clutch dozens of time but he just couldn't get it. Could drive as well as me, just couldn't shift without grinding every hole on the way up. One day during week 5 or 6 I was sitting in the jumpseat looking at a magazine as we left the truckstop. Something wasn't right. "Robert, what's wrong?".
"Nothing,is wrong why" as he grinned. Then it hit me he didn't gind a single gear. "Hey dude ya got it,cool... What made it finally click?" I wanted to know so I could teach the next guy better.
"I quit listening to you.".
"What!"
"Brandon, you tell me to hit the clutch twice, but you don't use the clutch,I've watched."

Lol. For over a month I tried teaching him to do it the 'rightway' while I did it the 'wrongway'. Lol. I taught him how to fake a clutch so he could pass the company drive test and away he went.

To me a clutch is for starting and stopping, and to free the truck from the driveline in turns (it helps in a tank truck, I'm sure Vito can explain the physics of it)
 

thomas james

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Don't know nothin' about the "big" trucks but do know my Silverado is a pain in the ass to drive on wyndy mountain roads. Always seems like the gear its in is too high and the next lower is too low. Takes too much pedal to get it to shift down and too little to get it to shift up. Gimme a five speed manual anyday. FULL control of the entire power band. Love to shift Mommas five speed Escort without using the clutch,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,takes a feel,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,the right feathering of the gas pedal is the key. Automatics in any vehicle are an abomination. I REEELY like the long flat power curve of diesel light duty trucks.

Truckers who jack brake downhill in residential areas at night should be castrated. PB,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,u doo dat?

tj
 

puros_bran

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TJ, up til about 4 yrs ago I didn't have a jake. I've trucked all over the country without one. Most of the time I have mine turned off.

Jakes are great. They are a real boon for going down big grades. The stop sign at 4th and main usually isn't a big grade. I've yet to see a truckstop with a grade steep enough either. I borderline wish they'd never been invented. I would venture a guess of about 99% of the time they are misused. They are for grades, not a replacement for the brake pedal.

Its a sore spot. The 'Proffesionalism' of modern truckers, what's called 'newbreed' is non exsistant. I hate it. We were once Knights of the Highway, Kings of the Road. Now we, as a group, are no better than a crackdealer. No respect for ourselves,muchless anyone else. Stinky,rude,pieces of sh•t,with no pride and no reason left to have any. No sir, you will Not EVER catch me acting like these NewBreed Arsehats. I will be as clean and as corteous as I can be. Treating every vehicle like my kids are in it, and treating every enviroment like its my living room.

There's reason this industry has fallen, in person or on the phone I'd tell ya but I won't go there on the board.
 

thomas james

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PB,

Not talking 4th and Main here. The Sierra foothills are just that, hilly. Housing is built up around all major highways. A jake braking truck can be heard for miles,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,wake the dead. Some stretches of highway are posted, truckers get cited.

You're right about the "new" breed. To many, it's THEIR highway and "we" are intruders.

My son, when he was a piss ant, would make that horn string pulling signal when we passed a truck. 90% of the time he got a toot. Different breed then,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,now you get the finger.

You're one of the old breed. Your personal pride in everything is very apparent.

Get home for Christmas,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,smack Bubba,,,,,,,,,,,,,,then hug him,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,keep him guessing. He's gonna pull up behind you one day and pass you. Won't use his signal,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,watch for it.
Sons get an air of confidence when they know they have "equaled" the old man,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,respect is still there,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,it's a beautiful thing,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,you'll see.

tj
 

puros_bran

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Yeah I understood ya TJ, I used to run around outwest quite a bit. Ran Cabbage and Donner without jakes. IF I can do that its totally possible to run around anywhere without them. Like I said used properly they are a valuable tool, making the whole deal safer, just seems like no one uses em properly.

These guys bother me as much as the 'payday advance' type bother you. They give my field a badname.
 

Carlos

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I never got to drive big trucks. Just box trucks with at most 16,000 lbs of license plates on them. After I took another job, they got some International automatics. In the 7 years we have had them, I know those guys have took off at least 30 mirrors. Wiped out the sides of two tour buses. Nearly ripped a Tommylift off one loading and unloading a 10,000 lb forklift, because where it needed to go to and from didn't have a dock. Destroyed numerous doors and tried to take the box off one on an underpass. A stick shift might have prevented that last one. How? By putting a competent driver behind the wheel. In the previous 15 years prior to the automatics, only once did someone dent the bumper. One day we opened the door on one that we transfered down from Chicago to find a Ford Taurus inside. It quit running and they wanted to get it back to the motorpool.

:lol: :lol: :lol:
 

Vito

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puros_bran":vrod3fzd said:
..."Hey dude ya got it,cool... What made it finally click?" I wanted to know so I could teach the next guy better.
"I quit listening to you.".
"What!"
"Brandon, you tell me to hit the clutch twice, but you don't use the clutch,I've watched."

Lol. For over a month I tried teaching him to do it the 'rightway' while I did it the 'wrongway'. Lol. I taught him how to fake a clutch so he could pass the company drive test and away he went.
PB:

Ain't it the truth. "Do as I say, not as I do" syndrome doesn't work real well as a teaching tool. I noticed it early on with my kids, who nailed me every time there was any discrepancy between what I preach and what I practice. They still do. Keeps me honest.

To me a clutch is for starting and stopping, and to free the truck from the driveline in turns (it helps in a tank truck, I'm sure Vito can explain the physics of it)
Just to make sure I know exactly what you're talking about—when you say "driveline", do you mean the drivetrain...meaning the connection from the engine to the drive wheels through the transmission? :confused:

Vito :joker:
 
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What PB is referring to is that to get a CDL, you MUST double clutch on the road test. No choice. All the state exams read that way. In reality, 95% of drivers only use the clutch to start and stop. Hard to explain, but easy to demonstrate. (Light duty trannies have synchronizers in them. High torque motors tear them up, though, so you have to do without.) Bottom line is that there's no way to avoid dealing with the technique if you want your license.
 

puros_bran

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Yeah, basically clutch or pop it out of gear on curves or turns and it frees the wheels from power. For whatever reason it makes the liquid in the tank not slosh as bad and allows you to take the curve at greater spead. Back when I worked for LTC I followed an old timer. He would zip around corners,freaked me out. When I asked him how he was doing that he told me 'pop it outta gear'. I did, it does, don't know why. Lol.
 

thomas james

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This is one of those "bra snap" mysteries. Some of em work with one hand and some don't. Man is not meant to understand some things. Just be happy when it works.

:clown: tj
 

Vito

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LatakiaLover":fnt3oy8i said:
...In reality, 95% of drivers only use the clutch to start and stop. Hard to explain, but easy to demonstrate...
LL:

No need to explain about the clutch. I drove a Freightliner with a Cummins 350 and a 10-speed for a few years. The clutch was a waste of energy for everything but starting and stopping. In fact, it didn't make a damn bit of difference after first gear, especially when the truck was brand new. Upshifting or downshifting, it was all the same; if you didn't match the speeds on both ends of the gearbox, it wouldn't drop into gear...period. The clutch was useless. I had to learn how to drive it before I went anywhere. I took my share of "If you can't find 'em, grind 'em" jabs. I found 'em.

As far as possible, I tried to drive without ever using the brakes except when I dropped out of 1st gear to come to a full stop. Obviously, it wasn't possible in every case, but it was a benchmark to shoot for that kept me out of trouble. The thought that there are people out there driving big trucks and relying on nothing more than an accelerator pedal and a brake pedal...well, it's kinda scary. :|

Vito
 

thomas james

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You guys are just flat sacry!

Use this!

No, don't use that!

Another inch, there would have been an explosian!

I don't know why it works, it just does!

I can put this on the edge of a quarter!

I grind em', can't find em'!

JUST FLAT SCARY!

I'm stayin off the road.

:affraid: !!!!!

tj
 

puros_bran

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LOL@TJ

You oughta see the guys that don't know what their doin.

The truth is you could train a monkey to do this job, just none of em are stupid enough to work this cheap.
 

Vito

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puros_bran":v7j078yw said:
Yeah, basically clutch or pop it out of gear on curves or turns and it frees the wheels from power. For whatever reason it makes the liquid in the tank not slosh as bad and allows you to take the curve at greater spead. Back when I worked for LTC I followed an old timer. He would zip around corners,freaked me out. When I asked him how he was doing that he told me 'pop it outta gear'. I did, it does, don't know why. Lol.
PB:

Wow! That isn't even intuitive...but then again, I have zero experience with tankers, so I have nothing to anchor to in terms of "feel" for the way it would handle under power vs. freewheeling. In my (admittedly limited) experience, I always wanted the power train connected to the drive axles. It gave me the sense that my connection to the road was through the engine, and I was in control of the engine. I loved that Cum-along 350. I never once had a problem with it, and I don't remember how many times it took me from Maine to Miami, from Baltimore to the shaky side in the 4 years I drove it. (Never once used the Jake brake either...just didn't need it.)

Now you've got my curiosity up. Why would the liquid load be more stable with power disengaged?

Hmmm...I've got a hunch. I'll report back...

Vito :joker:
 

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thomas james":iik9prnp said:
This is one of those "bra snap" mysteries. Some of em work with one hand and some don't. Man is not meant to understand some things. Just be happy when it works...
Brothah Teej:

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!! :no: :no: :no: :no: :no: It ain't that simple. Some of us have a mutant gene that won't let us not try to figure out how stuff works. For those who inhabit that mindspace, "Man is not meant to understand some things" is not part of the rules of engagement. Sure...there are some things we aren't smart enough to understand (yet), and maybe we never will be, but that doesn't quench the burn to understand.

The first principle of knowledge is "The universe is comprehensible." It really is, you know. If it weren't, we'd still be living in caves and counting on the next lightning strike to give us a light. We'd still be fearing the return of comets as omens of unavoidable doom. We'd still be trying to use coercive political systems to solve problems in human interaction :shock: ...oh, wait...I guess that's still heretical in the most ubiquitous religion of all—politics; OK...scratch that last one.

Anyhow, you get the point...

For the record, I do get your point...sorta. I mean, there are some things that are better left alone. Analyzing the crap out of everything destroys the mystery, and mystery is the magic ingredient that spices up evvihthang. I still don't grok the mystery of, say, Embarcadero, and I'm content to have it remain unfathomable. "I like it" is good enough for me. I still want to understand all I can about it, but even if I knew "everything" about it, I still wouldn't know everything about it, if thou catchest mon drifte. That's the beauty of complexity.

We treat "Bob" (the universe) as though it were a machine, but it isn't. We can't even solve the quantum measurement problem, and we never will, because it's a "problem" of our own making—a consequence of the science we used to burrow our way down to the quantum level with close-enough-for-physics assumptions based on fictions like the dimensionless point, the frictionless surface, the ideal gas, the adiabatic wall, and the massless particle. None of 'em exist, but we wouldn't have gotten far without those ideas.

They're useful tools...in their place. That stuff works up here in the macro world, but there's a price to pay, and the piper comes to collect when we hit the subatomic level. Suddenly, we aren't so friggin' smart after all. Our Newtonian world-view, which works like gangbusters in the world of everyday human experience, avails us naught in the quantum world. So we make up new science to handle it, we have our temporary triumphs. Then the mutant gene kicks in again — the eternal "Huh?" — and down we go, ever deeper into the nature of reality until we can no longer recognize it as any reality in which we have any experience at all. Then the M-theory guys take over, and they get big bux, book contracts, and a NOVA series.

Ah, well...those guys have to eat too. It might not be good science, but it's pretty good TV. Beats the hell outa the News at Eleven. ;)

"The universe is comprehensible" is an approach that might seem arrogant to some, but when you practice it honestly (and alas, not everyone does), it's an approach that proves to be exactly the opposite. The more we learn about the way "Bob" works, the more realize how little we actually understand compared to what there is to know...which is infinite. Each advance in knowledge that answers one question makes us smart enough to ask ten more. You can't run out of things to learn.

I suppose that might be depressing to folks who like to think they've got it all nailed (the first clue that they don't), but for those who have enough humility to realize that nobody ever knows everything about anything, it's actually pretty encouraging. If our primary job description (or one of them, at least) on this mortal coil is to learn, we've pretty much got permanent job security.

Vito :joker:
 
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