Work Truck Show highlights vehicles, tools, technologies

June 1, 2009
Chicago The Work Truck Show and National Truck Equipment Association Convention held here at McCormick Place in March, featured a variety of work trucks and vans, tools and technologies useful to plumbing and HVAC contractors. More than 400 exhibitors and 8,000 attendees participated in the show, an increase in attendance from last year's show despite the down economy. Nissan showcased its NV2500

Chicago — The Work Truck Show and National Truck Equipment Association Convention held here at McCormick Place in March, featured a variety of work trucks and vans, tools and technologies useful to plumbing and HVAC contractors. More than 400 exhibitors and 8,000 attendees participated in the show, an increase in attendance from last year's show despite the down economy.

Nissan showcased its NV2500 concept van for the first time, presenting a preview of Nissan North America Inc.'s 2010 entry into the growing commercial vehicle market. The concept van was designed with a “mobile, on-site construction office” in mind. It is equipped with a computer work station, wireless laser blueprint printer, fold-down conference table, storage compartments, cargo/tool tie-down racks and an awning-style side panel that opens to create a standing outside work table. Other features include a front passenger seat swing arm bracket that allows the seat to be used for both the computer station and the workbench, lighting throughout the interior and an oversize fixed glass panel roof with integrated solar panels, providing light and power for auxiliary tools and accessories.

The concept van has a V8 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, front engine/rear-wheel drive, 20-in. six-spoke billet aluminum-alloy wheels with Michelin tires, a wheelbase of 147.6-in., and is 196.4-in. × 79.6-in. The NV2500 was developed by Nissan Design America Inc. and is built on a modified Nissan Titan full-size pickup all-steel, fully boxed ladder frame.

At General Motors' booth, the GMC Sierra Hybrid pickup truck was showcased. The hybrid pickup uses GM's patented two-mode Hybrid system and 6.0L gas V8 engine. The hybrid technology uses two modes for city and highway driving. At low speed and with light loads, the first mode operates by electric power or engine power or any combination. The second mode is for highway speeds and integrates electronic controls, Active Fuel Management, cam phasing and late-intake valve closure for efficient operation. The system allows for compact packaging since electric motors are designed to fit within the same space as an automatic transmission. The 300V battery pack is located in the chassis, under the rear seat.

Dodge was also at the show, increasing its presence in the commercial vehicle market. The 2010 Dodge Ram Pickup truck will be available in a crew-cab sized model. A 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel engine, which produces 350-hp at 3,000 rpm, is featured on this model. The turbo diesel engine uses a diesel particulate filter to eliminate particulate matter emissions and an absorber catalyst to reduce oxides of nitrogen by as much as 90% to meet stringent 2010.5 diesel emissions requirements. A 6.7L diesel with either a G56 six-speed manual transmission or a 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission, and standard 5.7L HEMI V8 gasoline engine, delivering 383-hp at 5,600 rpm, are also available.

Supreme Industries Inc., a manufacturer of commercial vehicles, displayed the Spartan Service Van and the new Signature Van body. The Spartan Service Van, on a Ford cutaway chassis, offers a secure workspace with jobsite protection from the weather. Non-corrosive fiberglass reinforced plywood construction brightens the interior of the cargo area and compartments. Five compartments per side are available for organizing materials and tools.

The Signature Van body features increased interior dimensions and a durable and user-friendly design. The van body features a tough steel-framed substructure mounted to the customer's choice of chassis, with the front wall in Supreme's fiberglass-reinforced plywood for added durability. Side walls are available in either aluminum or FRP. The rear door opening is wider, taller, and features a Todco ToughShell rear roll-up door. Internal gussets in the rear door provide superior resistance to water penetration. The new design offers a number of standard interior and exterior features that were previously optional, including sealed wiring harnesses integrated with new LED exterior clearance lights. The body also features cap wiring. Using a composite front cap, the company designed a two-phase wiring system — wire runs through integrated loops in the cap and a cover inside the body protects the wiring from load damage. Supreme's puck-mounting system is standard for its Iner-City cutaways sold through General Motors and Ford dealers.

Miller Electric Mfg. Co., Appleton, Wis., a manufacturer of Miller brand arc welding equipment, introduced the Trailblazer 302 Air Pak, Wildcat 200 and Spectrum 625 X-TREME. The Trailblazer is a gasoline engine-driven welder, generator and air compressor that meets job site reliability standards. It provides construction professionals with a self-contained power source, welding up to 350 amps and providing 13,000 Watts of Accu-Rated generator power and 26 CFM at 100% duty cycle. Its rotary screw air compressor delivers 70 to 160 psi of air with no storage tank required, runs most air impact wrenches at idle and provides 100% deliverable air. It improves air carbon arc cutting and gouging, and is capable of working with ¼” carbons for most applications. It also provides power and air pressure to run Miller's full line of portable Spectrum plasma cutters. Its Kohler gas engine weighs 771-lbs. and measures 59½-in. × 20-in. × 34¼-in. It occupies up to 50% less truck space and up to 25% less axle weight compared to a separate engine-driven air compressor.

The Wildcat 200, featuring an enclosed case that protects the engine and internal welding components from falling objects, dust and debris, is capable of producing 6,500 Watts of peak generator power and 200 amp D.C. stick and TIG welding output. It weights 345-lbs. and uses a 14-hp Subaru engine. The gas tank provides 12 hours of run time, using a 1/8-in. stick electrode.

Miller also showcased its 40 amp Spectrum 625 X-TREME plasma cutter. It weighs 21-lb., so it can be carried by its shoulder strap. At 12 IPM, it cuts 5/8-in mild steel, and it cuts ¼-in. steel at 60 IPM. Automatic air regulation adjusts torch air pressure for optimum cutting and gouging performance. Auto-Refire eliminates retriggering when cutting expanded metal. Line voltage compensation provides steady output even with fluctuations in input power.

Ford promoted Ford Work Solutions, which features four technology features, at the show. An in-dash computer, powered by Microsoft Auto, provides Internet access via the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network, and Bluetooth-enabled Hands Free Calling and navigation is provided by Garmin. This computer system allows contractors to print invoices, check inventories and access documents on the job site. Tool Link, a Radio-Frequency Identification asset tracking system, developed in partnership with DeWalt and ThingMagic, a RFID technology company, lets contractors maintain a real-time inventory of the tools and equipment stored in the pickup box. Crew Chief, a fleet telematics and diagnostics system, allows fleet owners to manage vehicles, dispatch workers to job sites, monitor driver performance and keep vehicle maintenance records. Plus, a cable lock security system, developed in partnership with Master Lock to discourage theft of expensive tools, is also featured.

About the Author

Candace Roulo

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.      

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