Feature: What Was Rolling at The 2020 Work Truck Show

Now in its 20th year, The Work Truck Show® is an annual event conducted by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA). Held in Indianapolis, this year’s show featured the latest vocational trucks, vans, vehicle components and truck equipment from 530 exhibitors. More than 13,000 people attended. 

The show also offered special educational and training tracks: A Green Truck Summit highlighted clean energy trends for commercial vehicles. An Innovation Conference focused on helping OEM truck builders, body upfitters, tier manufacturer suppliers, and distributors learn how to enhance manufacturing processes and business results.

My takeaways

At a show of this size, serving this industry, the applications for performance tapes and adhesives are not always obvious. These are medium to large commercial trucks, after all. We are talking “heavy metal”: steel chassis, big dump bodies, massive plows, etc. 

I had to get past that immediate impression. Sure enough, as I started looking closely at some of the displays and talking to exhibitors and attendees about their needs, opportunities began to emerge for tape converters who collaborate with Avery Dennison®. Here are a few.

  • Wiring harnesses are big in this industry. There is an ever widening range of electronic features and options available on different service bodies, complex radar and vision systems moving information on the truck’s data network (known as a CAN bus), and complicated electric / hydraulic controls on dump and salt spreaders, to name but a few examples. All of these contain many different wiring harnesses that need to integrate into the OEM truck for control and data transmission.

    Our Automotive portfolio includes a range tapes ideal for this application, with performance adhesives married to insulative and reflective foils and specialty adhesives for securing wiring to the interior of the vehicle. Through our Fastener Solutions division, suppliers have access to a broad portfolio of traditional ties, mounts, and positioning tools.

  • Extruded rubber seals and gaskets are everywhere on upfitted trucks. As an example: I saw more than 20 exterior doors on a service truck body protecting sensitive tools and equipment from moisture. For robust sealing performance, Avery Dennison offers a portfolio of Acrylic Foam Bonding (AFB)  tapes that are intended for this application. They are incredibly durable to EPDM and other rubber formulations used in gaskets.

    These products have long-term performance with great resistance to high and low temperatures, UV light, and chemical exposure as well as bonding to rubber with migrating plasticizers.

  • As in automotive, the need for NVH damping is a growing trend in the commercial vehicle space. Reducing noise and increasing driver comfort increases retention rates as well as improving safety. The Avery Dennison soundBond™ portfolio includes an array of butyl-free damping products with performance adhesives for a wide range of substrates and damping requirements.

The electrification trend in transportation

Another trend on display was powertrain electrification. Manufacturers such as Ford®, Chevrolet®, Cummins®, Morgan Olson®, Freightliner®, Odyne®, and others used the show to debut hybrid and all-electric vehicles. Other manufacturers took the opportunity to showcase new electronic equipment and accessories, leveraging cutting edge technology to help improve safety and maneuverability. 

I was particularly impressed by a company called Odyne®. Its powertrain system allows owners of medium and heavy duty truck models to convert from standard diesel internal combustion engines (ICE) to plug-in hybrid, with no engine modifications. The system uses high voltage, 11.7 kWh or 23.4 kWh lithium ion batteries running in parallel with transmission.  Not only does it allow for launch assist and regenerative braking like a traditional hybrid vehicle, but it also allows the trucks hydraulic system to run directly off the electric motor, thus stopping needless engine idling to run the trucks hydraulic accessories.

Similarly impressive, a company called Motiv Power Systems is producing an all-electric chassis. Powered by Lithium ion batteries and built on the popular Ford® E-450 and F-59 strip chassis  platforms, it can be built up into an urban delivery truck/shuttle bus/work truck. 

As my time at The Work Truck Show® came to close, it was evident that just as powertrain electrification is a trend in the automotive industry, it is also gaining a foothold in commercial medium and heavy duty vehicles. Avery Dennison Performance Tapes offers solutions across our portfolio to help converters respond to this trend. These include electric harness solutions, battery pack adhesives, AFB gasketing, NVH dampening products, and more. It will be interesting to see what the future holds in this ever-changing industry.

Michael VanHaerents is an automotive segment business development manager for Avery Dennison Performance Tapes. He leverages 17 years of adhesive and sealant engineering and program management experience in the automotive industry to help build strategic relationships, create product specifications, and build new technology portfolios for new and existing adhesive and tape applications. Based in the Detroit area, he can be reached at michael.vanhaerents@averydennison.com, and welcomes your connection on LinkedIn.