Big Rig Blog
Supreme Court Decision Now Protects Your Phone Information
We are a mobile society, and always have been. Moving about seems to be tied to our curiosity as a species. Moreover, when you travel as much as some of our readers, you're probably going to want to take as much of your information with you as possible. It's not only convenient, it now seems absolutely necessary. Previous to the Supreme Court's decision, this might have posed a problem - if you're a privacy advocate.
With technology making huge amounts of information available, both the world's and yours, privacy has become a sticking point for numerous organizations. Warrantless searches of phones had been quite common. The contents could be downloaded by a device in an officer's car in a matter of moments - including calls, stored information and texts to everyone you interacted with throughout the life of the phone.
Your fourth amendment right to privacy now just got a major clarification. Your phone's contents are now protected from prying eyes far better than it used to be. With the Supreme Court's ruling on Riley vs. California, several points about your continued privacy have been made quite clear. The court held that, "The police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested." The court further concluded that, "the fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought."
Authorities saw it as necessary because information could be gathered before it was able to be erased/destroyed. The Supreme Court sees it differently. "Digital data stored on a cell phone cannot itself be used as a weapon to harm an arresting officer or to effectuate the arrestee's escape. Officers may examine the phone's physical aspects to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon, but the data on the phone can endanger no one."
Warrantless searches were permitted when it was to prevent harm to an arresting officer, and/or it was to secure evidence from destruction. The Supreme Court now says that neither applies with cell phone data, without exigent circumstances. It, however, does allow authorities to take reasonable steps to prevent erasure/destruction of that data, but not acquire it without a warrant.
One concern of privacy advocates is the Supreme Court's still unresolved issue of data not stored on the phone, but in the "cloud." While easily accessed on the phone, the physical location of the data can be on any storage device in the world. Will there be another warrant needed to search data stored outside the phone? Time and the courts will tell.
This article is only meant as a very brief overview on a particular part of the Supreme Court's legal opinion. To see the original opinion of the Supreme Court, please Use this link: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-132_8l9c.pdf
Tame any "To Do" list by knowing what "To Don't"
If you've ever used a "to-do" list, you know the list just keeps getting longer as the day goes on. In part, this is because so much of our time is spent trying to "get back to work" after a distraction.
Some interruptions are absolutely necessary, but so many are simply due to how we've become accustomed to working in a world of instant solutions. After a distraction, we often have to get back into the groove, as it were. Each of us has a routine. For some it's a fresh cup of coffee, and checking our office social circles before we can clear our mind enough to get back to a project. Others have a more complicated set of steps necessary to start back to the task at hand. What if you weren't sidetracked? How much could you accomplish? If you want to clear that "to do" list, work with a "to-don't" list first.
Do anything that keeps you from accomplishing your main objectives.
This can be anything from the daily objectives, to your long-term goals. If you're going online while you're working, make sure it is for searching for, reading or writing something that helps accomplish your goals. Examples for projects, templates, spreadsheets, and business databases are all great pieces of information you can garner from a net session. Use this time to create a library to pull information from now and later.
Waste time on social media (that's not business related).
Contacts are easily made on social media, but use your e-mail, phone and other media for repeated communications, unless the medium is the message (think twitter, linkedIn, instagram, etc.) So much social media is over hyped. So much more goal-oriented contact is personal. Use your time for personal communication with contacts you've already made.
Communicate without preparation
Making calls is part and parcel of business, as are e-mails. However, just as a meeting presentation is planned in advance, so too should any communication of a professional manner. List your goals for an important phone conversation - it only takes a minute, and you'll be amazed what is accomplished when you start doing this. Use your "note" feature on your computer or smart phone to keep your thoughts and conversation on track. Listing your objectives also allows you to add links to the points, and to insure you talk about specifics that need discussed. If you are interrupted by a phone call, and it's not a superior, or you don't know the person, let it go to voicemail. Review the voicemail later, and prepare for the return call with the info above. Likewise, emails don't need to be checked and returned every other minute. Prepare a time in the morning, and afternoon, when you can review, plan and answer e-mails.
Allow interruptions during critical work periods.
It may seem rude, but there's a lock on your door for a reason. Use it when you need to get important work done. If you work in a cubical, put in a pair of ear phones. You don't even have to listen to anything, just having them in discourages people from interrupting you. As a last resort, you may have to vacate your cubical, and take your lap top to a quieter, less travelled location in the building. I've done it. It works.
Make promises without placing them on a scheduler. Period.
There's so much free technology out there to keep you aware of everything you need to do, for you to ever forget. Use only one, and make sure it's a scheduler that syncs with your computer, as well as your phone. If you make an appointment, deadline commitment, or any action that has a definite date, time and purpose, you need to schedule it on a program that will send you reminders. Having been on the business end of missed appointments, by people who were supposed to show up, I can tell you they're difficult to forgive.
Do meetings that don't have an agenda.
You wouldn't drive from your location to a point across country without a map and a location, so don't do that with a meeting. When dealing with peers, and superiors - at times, unless you know where a meeting is going (agenda) and what the goal is (location), it's a time waster. If no goal and/or agenda is provided, request them. You can't afford a lack of information if you want to succeed in your own goals - even if there are donuts.
Do anything on your "to-do" list that doesn't help you accomplish your goals.
This is not as selfish as it sounds. Your goals should ideally mesh with what your superiors expect of you. When you accomplish your goals, it should help their objectives, as well. Everybody's happy - except the folks who want to waste your time.
We spend our time three ways: thinking, communicating and doing. If you work the "to-don't" list continuously, and make it a habit, you'll get more out of all three.
Truck Maintenance Escrow Accounts
You've been driving your own rig for long enough to know that regular maintenance is a necessary part of owning a truck. You also know that eventually you're probably still going to have something fail on your truck when you least expect it. Knowing what to do about it, and having the cash on hand to fix it, helps get you back on the road to make money.
If you know how to repair your truck, and have the tools to do it, half the battle is already won. Now comes the important part; having the cash on hand. That's where a maintenance escrow account comes in. You put this money back automatically, based on a formula. The formula can be based on hours, maintenance schedules, or even miles. The simplest one is based on miles, because you can easily track those vs. how much money is actually in the account.
While you will still need to take into consideration how much you idle, and the maintenance schedule of your truck, it's nice have something straightforward to review and keep you on goal. We have provided an example below based on the age of the truck. As could be expected, the older the truck, the more you should put back.
While this is only one example, and each truck manufacturer seems to have its own maintenance requirements, this will point you in a direction that keeps you from being stuck with necessary maintenance and repairs without any way to pay for it. Simply set your mileage rate, and add the money necessary to the account with
every deposit of funds. With one less worry, your life just got simpler.
Your Best Sales Person Should Tell Your Story
You know your company has the very best product and/or service in the industry; however, no one seems to know this, but you. In this era of frenzied business competition, how do you make sure people know what you do for your customers? That's easy. Let other people tell the story for you. Of the many forms of advertising and marketing, only one can change how someone "feels" about your company. Only one speaks to people, because it's by a real person.
One of the oldest, and best, forms of advertising is directly from your customers. In short, you need testimonials. Reviews. Recommendations. With these references, you are now the star, instead of simply another player on the field.
There is no doubt that it can be difficult to get great reviews - if you simply sit back and wait for them. While customers may indeed love what you do for them, it's always hard to get someone to submit a great review on their own, and especially if you give them nowhere to do so. Negative reviews seem to be another story. More on those later.
The truth is you have to ask for reviews. Somewhere you have an email list of people your company deals with. Write a personalized e-mail (no bulk e-mails) to your customers asking for their thoughts on your products/services. When you get a good review back; and you will, simply ask the customer if it would be OK to use their review. Happy customers will likely agree to this, as they already appreciate what you do for them, and probably wouldn't mind influencing others, as well. It's simply human nature to be an influencer. It makes us feel good about our purchasing decision when people act on what we tell them. With permission, use these reviews on your web pages, literature and anywhere people see your company in public.
If you don't have time for this; find someone that does. Much as referrals carry weight for job interviewees, they are essential to your business for the same reason. Each customer interaction is an interview. You are "hired" or "fired" on the purchaser's review of your businesses' "resume." If it's filled with recommendations, chances are good you'll be getting the job.
The beauty of this review system is that it also allows you the chance to correct any problems your company might also have. As much as we dislike getting negative feedback, it is a necessary part of business. Each one, however, should be viewed as an opportunity. If you get a negative review from a customer, and it truly was something that was your fault, and an area you can improve upon; do so. Then communicate the steps taken to your customer. You become a stronger company with every review - be it positive or negative.
Your best customer is also your best sales person, if you ask.
With that said, we would love to hear from you. Please email us and let us know about your experience and what we can do to improve our relationship with you. As stated above, our best sales person is a happy customer.
Difficult Operations Don't Always Require Complex Solutions!
This one was supposed to be an easy tow. However, you get there to find that the car is not only tightly parallel parked between two other cars, but the customer is locked out of the vehicle.
It's a late-night repo. You need to get this car out of a "blocked" situation quickly and quietly. This is now even more difficult than what you planned for.
You're staring at one super-expensive antique vehicle. It needs to be safely moved from one side of the storage area to the other. You don't want to start this piece of history, let alone drive it.
Three situations with one easy solution. Break out the Go Jaks. This lightweight dolly system allows you to move blocked, locked or damaged vehicles into a proper hook-up configuration with tow trucks or car carriers. They also allow you to move an entire vehicle where you need it.
Whether you need a vehicle moved eough to do a proper hook, or completely rotated into a new position, this is your go-to dolly system. You can use just 2 units on the drive wheels to move the car into position to be towed, or you can use four Go Jaks (one each wheel) to move the car into a position anywhere it needs to be moved, with minimal effort, and precise placement.
Your Truck Has an Accomplice Stealing Your Profits
You already know this ne’er-do-well. You might occasionally even like the eccentric, old coot, but he’s still stealing you blind. While that description may resemble any number of people, you know him simply as … the weather.
• While the winter weather extremes often amplify conditions that cost you fuel and replacement equipment, make no mistake, it happens all year around; good weather and bad. What equipment is most likely robbing you of fuel? Well, as you probably already suspect, it’s your tires. As you travel from warmer states, where your tires may be at around 110 lbs PSI, by the time you get to a frigid state, your tires are probably setting at only 85 to 90 lbs. This is due to the thermal contraction of the air in your tires, which causes you to lose mileage because they’re under inflated and have greater friction with the road. Worse, they’re now going to wear faster, as well as unevenly, so they’ll be costing you in faster equipment replacement cycles - and tires are expensive. Now multiply that by 18!
• Most drivers take care of the under-inflation problem when reaching their cold weather destination. However, what was 110 PSI in cold weather is inching toward 125 PSI when that you’re back in the warmer climates. This isn’t something one thinks about as much as low tire inflation, so it can go unnoticed for quite a while. Your now over inflated tires are, again, wearing unevenly. They also have a smaller footprint on the road, so don’t have the proper surface area for the braking you need to quickly stop a load. So, short of spending 30 minutes of every single day equalizing your tires, how do you stop the weather from stealing even more money from you?
• An auto tire inflation system for your tires is probably going to be the best solution. These systems not only add air to your tires when they’re low, they release it when a certain pressure has been attained. In short, you get your time back you used to spend equalizing your tires; your truck gets better mileage and braking because the tires are inflated properly – no matter what climate you’re in. And, finally, you get to spend more of those rolling hours making money, instead of adjustments.
Why does my phone battery keep dying so quickly?
We even get a bit nervous when we leave the phone in the truck, or at home. If you’re like most, you’ll even drive back to the house to get your phone, as opposed to doing without it for some length of time.
• Often we’ll keep them on a charger nearly all of the time, just in case we’re in an area where there is no place to keep it charged while we’re using it. Besides using a non-approved charger for the device, this is one of the worst things you can do to your phone battery. Eventually, your battery begins to lose the ability to hold full charge, and the more you try to keep it continually charged, the more it loses the ability to charge.
• Phone, computer and tablet batteries are designed to be charged and then discharged. By breaking the discharge part of the cycle, your phone battery begins to degrade; so much so, in fact, that you can actually see and feel the damage to the battery when you remove it. Normal batteries have a flat, rectangular shape, but damaged batteries feel like they’re swollen, and will even spin for some time when spun on a flat, level surface.
• Unfortunately, the only thing you can do – in a reasonable amount of time, is replace the battery that has lost the ability to hold a charge. This can be done at any phone store that carries your model, or any battery store. Most of these places are rather easily found, so a quick repair is usually at hand.
Will Your Next Rig Be Rolling On Natural Gas??
With CNG running nearly $1.50 cheaper by the “gallon”, some of the country’s largest fleets are moving to natural gas. But there’s a catch. Most of the fleets switching are short haul (read: in town), so they don’t need infrastructure built out over the entire country. They only need to have a supply where they park their vehicles for the night. Everyone from UPS, to Lowes and Waste Management are converting their heavy-duty trucks to natural gas. In fact, roughly 5% of the heavy trucks sold next year will be built around natural gas.
• That said; what about the long haul industry? Well, Cummins and Volvo are both working on those types of trucks, but as you might have expected, it’s going to be more expensive to build. Manufacturers are blaming the increases on the type of tanks required to hold the natural gas safely – although new tank manufacturers are beginning to appear, which should drive the price down. There are other costs, as well. There are technology requirements to overcome and the lack of lubrication provided by the fuel itself. Even with these obstacles, Cummins started selling their 12 liter natural gas engine in July, so the future is now on the market. Now, will they be able to entice drivers/owners away from diesel. Again, that depends.
• Besides the cost, the main reason there is a distinct lack of natural gas long-haul trucks is because of a near total absence of infrastructure at truck stops across the country. Pilot/Flying J are working on the problem, but when does everyone else join the fray, and thus, lower the cost to access? With diesel stubbornly refusing to drop in price any time soon, and even cheaper natural gas on the way, it looks like you just might be shopping for a new fuel when you start shopping for a new rig.
How Are Your Driving Skills At 100+ Miles Per Hour?
Not just because it’s Vegas, but because East Coast Truck and Trailer is hosting their Richard Petty Driving Experience again. If you’ve never been, the Richard Petty Driving Experience is a race car thrill ride you control - starting at 100+ mph!
• Every year, the folks at ECTTS ask a number of their friends and customers to come out for the driving experience of a lifetime. This is a chance to drive a car as fast as you can – without any fear whatsoever of a ticket. In fact, the faster the better! So much so, we keep track of the stats.
• The day starts with a facility overview of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There’s roughly 1,500 acres to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, consisting of over 10 tracks. There’s the 1/2 mile World of Outlaws dirt track, the quarter mile NHRA drag racing facility known as “The Strip” and the 3/8 mile “Bullring”, which is the home track of NASCAR superstars Kurt and Kyle Busch as well as Brendan Gaughan – just to name a few.
•Now, before you’re allowed to put a 600+ HP car through its paces, you have to go through safety and instruction and in-car/on-track training. This isn’t just a formality if you’re driving these beasts, this is absolutely necessary. You need to know how the brute you’re going to be doing your best to control will handle in a curve, or “out of the groove.” You’ll hear from the instructors/drivers just what you’re going to feel, and at what speed. They know these finely-tuned monsters; they drive them every day.
• Now it’s your turn at the wheel; right? Well, first you’ll be taken on a ride-along to get a feel for the track, and experience the car “at speed.” You get to see what it feels like to take a curve as fast as possible without slamming into a wall. Then you get to feel the acceleration push you into the seat – when you’re already doing over 100 mph! You’ll amusedly remember when you used to get a thrill punching the accelerator on the family sedan to pass a sluggish truck. And this is just the instructional phase.
• “OK, this should be easy”, you convince yourself, as you climb into the driver’s seat. What you don’t understand – until you try it for yourself, is that the instructor made it look easy because of their experience. For you, getting this race car up to something even close to 130 mph is taking some work. Not that the car won’t do it, but because you’re having a tough time getting up the nerve to go much faster. Way too soon, this thrill ride is over, but you get a chance to see just how much bravado you had. After it’s all over, you get a packet that includes a time sheet with a breakdown of every lap you drove on the track.
Finally, at the end of the day, ECTTS holds a dinner for their friends, employees and customers. The food’s good, but the stories and laughter are even better. Let’s face it, half the fun of this type of outing is comparing how you did with the rest of the guests. The only problem lies with the inevitable request to see the hard copy of your exploits, to confirm those “enhanced” tales of the track. Chris Kelly, one of our customers, posted this year’s top speed at 141 mph! We’ll keep the lowest speed to ourselves, so as to keep the embarrassment to a minimum. As we said earlier, we do keep track of the stats.
Keep safe, and keep rolling.
Are You Killing Your Diesel Particulate Filter?
You know you just did a parked regeneration to clear the diesel particulate filter yesterday, and you’ve been driving this rig at speed today, so shouldn’t the filter be clean? Well, probably not. Here’s why:
• Unless you’re running a disposable filter system, which are a must in the mining industry and some off-road equipment, the DPF is probably still clogged, but not with soot. The DPF works by trapping soot and other particulates in a network of cells before releasing the smaller gasses through the pores in the filter structure (usually cordierite or silicon carbide). The DPF, like any filter, eventually gets clogged with this material. Unlike other filters, this filter can usually be easily cleared – either while you’re on the road, or parked, by simply heating the filter to the point where the soot burns off to become gasses that pass through the filter. The problem arises when other particles besides soot become trapped in the filter. While hydrocarbons burn, metals and other contaminates from oils in the exhaust don’t burn off at the temperatures used for regeneration, so you end up with a clogged filter – even though you’ve just done yet another regen.
• Why does this happen? The heat from the regen can cause the metal particles to simply fuse into solid masses (sintering), and like the metals, the non-soot particles aren’t going to burn off either. In some cases the filter itself is damaged by the heat being created by the regen. As regeneration happens at temperatures around 850 to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, and damage happens to some filters at 1200 degrees, the range between clean and damaged can be fairly narrow.
•When the filter becomes clogged with metals and ash; from burning contaminates, it creates high backpressure and triggers a warning on the dash that gets progressively more severe until the truck computer finally throttles back the power – in some cases severely. Filters that become substantially clogged with ash go through what’s called compacting, which can cause filter and engine damage, if not corrected quickly. Overriding the regen causes this compaction. To avoid those consequences, regen every time, on time. Note that the filter will still eventually become clogged with particles other than soot. So what’s the solution? It’s time to have the filter professionally cleaned, as opposed to just clearing the soot.
• Sometimes known as de-ashing, the filter cleaning process begins with an inspection, and then moves through the steps of testing, pneumatic cleaning, thermal regeneration (about 12 hours) and a final air flow test. At the end of the cleaning the air flow test will tell whether it passes for continued use, or needs to be replaced. How often you regen, vs. letting your filter compact with particulates and ash, can greatly affect the usable life of your filter. Similarly, having your filter removed and cleaned regularly increases its lifetime, so this step should be an important part of your regular maintenance schedule.
• Finally, this is not a do-it-yourself job you want to tackle. Unless you have the proper equipment, and knowledge, it will just end up being a very expensive lesson in what not to do yourself. Dealerships and service centers nationwide offer DPF cleaning services; take advantage of it on a regular basis to keep your filter and engine operating at its best.
Keep safe, and keep rolling.
Drastically Extend the Oil Drain Intervals for Your Rig!
So, how do you go about extending your rig’s oil life? If you’re like some, you keep idling to a bare minimum. Others depend on advanced formula oils, and expensive synthetics that extend the life of the oil with formulation and additives. While this works, to a certain degree, still others have found a way to keep from draining their oil unless absolutely necessary. The key to long oil life is an oil bypass filter.
• Oil bypass filters (OBF) are a proven way to keep your oil clean and dramatically reduce the wear on your engine. This isn’t new technology. Having been around for close to twenty years, this is an established equipment system you can use to make more money in the field immediately. Haulers using oil bypass filters change their oil infrequently and still have the maximum protection from their oil. Oil’s life is dependent on just how badly contaminated the oil becomes. It tends to gather any number of pollutants throughout its usable life - soot, fuel, metals and moisture. All of which can considerably shorten that oil life, and the life of your engine. An oil bypass filter virtually eliminates those contaminants because it puts your oil through a filter the removes particles down to 1 to 3 microns, and evaporates others so they don’t reduce the oil viscosity. This is far superior to only having a factory installed full flow filter, which only filters down to 20 to 25 microns. Even particles that size can damage your rig’s engine.
• The OBF works in conjunction with your standard full flow filter; not in place of it, so there is no loss in oil pressure. Typically, an OBF will filter about 6 gallons of oil per hour, and is connected to the engine oil supply downstream of the standard engine oil filter. In turn, the oil is treated by the bypass filter system and gravity fed back into your oil pan. It has a separate housing for the filter unit, with a replaceable filter medium, as well as a heat chamber to evaporate fuel and moisture from the oil; thus removing even more contaminants that can affect the ability of your oil to reduce friction.
• It is an additional piece of equipment to buy for your rig, and you will have to purchase and replace your filter at certain intervals. Additionally, you will have to have your oil tested to maintain the best possible oil condition. You will find, however, that oil testing and filters are readily available at the maintenance facilities you’re probably near on a consistent basis.
• The system, on average, should pay for itself in under a year with the benefits of extended oil drain intervals, reduced oil purchases, reduced waste oil costs and reduced rig downtime. That said, this system seems like a no-brainer. So, keep your oil cleaner, rack up those miles, and spend your cash on something besides oil.
Keep safe, and keep rolling.