Let’s focus on the cab suspension for a moment. Link Manufacturing, a maker of cab suspensions, has focused much of its recent development efforts on improving ride quality, which has resulted in the introduction of the ROI Cabmate Semi-Active Cab Suspension. ROI Cabmate will likely be available as a retrofit option next year, and OEMs are currently evaluating the possibility of offering it, Link shares.
The suspension features Link’s Road-Optimized Innovations (ROI) technology, which uses Link’s algorithms and sensors to have the system’s electronic control unit (ECU) continuously assess the events the truck is going through and adjust to provide a smoother ride—examples include absorbing road shock and vibration and adjusting to the effects of wind shear.
At a recent event, FE had the chance to speak with a couple of fleets who have been road-testing Link’s ROI Cabmate about the suspension and, more broadly, about using suspensions as a driver retention tool.
Joel Morrow, head of R&D and senior driver for Ploger Transportation, says that there’s “no question” that suspensions can have an impact on driver retention.
“I think the ride quality matters more to the older drivers, and these are the guys that you want to stay longer,” he opines. “They’re the guys that just get it done, day in and day out, so making their lives easier is of paramount importance to a fleet. And maybe this extends their career a few years.”
Ploger notes that he anticipates the suspension having the biggest impact for drivers that run pickup and delivery routes in cities where the road quality is often rough and where there is a lot of stop-and-start.
“Often, as the drivers get older, they don’t want to be away from home as much, so they’re willing to run regional-haul. Then they get into a regional operation and it beats their body up.”
Of ROI Cabmate, Ploger says, “It’s one of the products that I think is going to have a pretty major impact on our driver quality of life. Drivers are going to be more comfortable with a semi-active suspension that can constantly adapt to the duty cycle that you’re in. The truck rides better, the driver’s happier, they’re healthier, and more productive.”
Capt. Fausto Velasquez of TC Logistics in Mexico has been running four trucks with ROI Cabmate for one year, having accumulated 345,000 miles of driving time in a long-haul, varying-terrain application. He says that the suspension looks to be a useful driver retention and recruitment tool.
“You have to add other things—the training, communication, equipment, pay. But the suspension helps. It definitely helps,” Velasquez says.
For more on this topic, see It’s time to think of suspensions as driver retention equipment.