Truck Test 2022: Trust the technology!

Truck Test 2022: Trust the technology! 1024 557 TruckScience

The results are in for Truck Test 2022! The resounding conclusion of the test is that the technology can be trusted to drive the truck. The focus now needs to be on training drivers to apply the technology.

The truck that achieved the highest Productivity score in the test, the Mercedes-Benz Actros, was driven mostly in auto mode.

“Transport operators will use the results of this test in their vehicle purchasing decisions. Fuel typically accounts for about 50% of total cost in a long haul application, so they’ll obviously look at these numbers. But they’ll also study the Payload Productivity Factor, which is the best indicator of overall performance. The vehicle with the highest payload productivity typically achieves the best balance between average speed and fuel consumption. So Productivity really is key, in terms of operating a profitable operation.” – Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager, TruckScience

Meaningful Results

“There are many factors that affect the performance of a vehicle, but in this test, the trailers, loads, weather and traffic conditions are the same for all the vehicles, and we’re running on the popular Johannesburg to Durban route, so the results will be meaningful to transport operators doing long haul.” – Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager, TruckScience

Truck Test takes place every 2-3 years, and is one of its kind in Africa.

“Truck tests do take place on other continents, but what makes this one unique is that we are running 8 vehicles on the same days under the same conditions, whereas the tests done overseas are typically done one vehicle at a time. In our case, we’re able to make direct comparisons.”

– Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager, TruckScience

The Trucks

8 trucks were entered in the test; 6 tautliner interlinks – 3 from MAN and one each from FAW, Iveco and Mercedes-Benz, plus a tridem flatdeck from each of Iveco and MAN.

All of the vehicle trailer combinations were loaded to the maximum legally-allowed payload; 36,240kg of bricks on the tautliner interlinks, and 31,710kg on the 2 tridem flatdecks.

All vehicles were powered by Engen Dynamic Diesel with Pro-Drive.

Click on this image to see detailed specs for all 8 trucks.

detailed specs for all 8 trucks state regulations for truck weights

The Drivers

Each participant entered a truck with a driver, as well as an observer to travel in one of the other vehicles.

Needless to say, the drivers were experienced and knowledgeable drivers, whom the OEMs hoped would give them the edge over the competitors.

As Charleen Clarke, Editorial Director of FOCUS on Transport & Logistics, commented, “One of the factors that will determine the success of the trucks is the drivers. The fact of the matter is that a good driver can use 35% less fuel than a bad one.”

And of course, it’s not only fuel that is saved by a good driver. “Being efficient on the road means you are saving a lot. That is, on your fuel, on your tyres, on your engine, on your gearbox, on everything!”, says Nduna Chari, Driver Trainer and Product Specialist, ProfiDrive.

The Route

Organised by FOCUS on Transport & Logistics magazine, the test took place over 3 days on the N3 national route.

Fittingly, the N3 is one of the busiest routes in South Africa, travelled by 8,500 – 13,000 vehicles per day, and transporting 56 million tonnes of freight per year, according to FOCUS on Transport & Logistics.

The TruckScience Performance module shows the route, as well as its altitude profile.

The TruckScience Performance module

The trucks were refueled at Engen Blockhouse (south of Johannesburg) on Tuesday 31 May, under the watchful eye of, among many others, Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager at TruckScience, and Charleen Clarke, Editorial Director of FOCUS on Transport & Logistics, two true Truck Test veterans!

And they’re off!

The contestants departed Engen Blockhouse early on the frosty winter’s morning of 1 June. There was a compulsory stop at Heidelberg weighbridge before leaving Gauteng, to measure and record axle weights and gross combination mass, and ensure that none of the trucks were overloaded.

According to Charleen Clarke, “Overloading is a huge problem in South Africa. It damages the roads and it’s also very bad for road safety.”

Then it was onward south-east to Engen Trafford, Pinetown (near Durban), a distance of about 570km.

Level Playing Field

Crucially, because the trucks were released at one-minute intervals, a level playing field was ensured: same day, same weather, same traffic conditions, same fuel, same payload. The only varying factors were the trucks themselves and the drivers.

Following the eagerly-watched refuelling in Pinetown on Wednesday evening, all eight extra-heavy trucks returned to Johannesburg on 2 June, once again stopping off at Heidelberg weighbridge.

By the time the trucks were back at base, they had each travelled 1142.5km (or 710 miles), taking anywhere between 16 hours and 51 minutes to 19h:20m to do so, and consuming between 555.58 litres (147 gallons) and 625.54 litres (165 gallons) of diesel.

TruckScience’s Role

Many of the OEMs taking part in the test already use the TruckScience Axle Weight Calculator and Sales Tool to calculate axle weights, estimate fuel consumption and predict Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), in support of speccing safe, legal and efficient trucks.

Fitting sight tubes to the fuel tanks

With a view to utilising the full capacity of the trucks, while avoiding overloading, TruckScience generated load plans for each vehicle, and oversaw the legal loading of the vehicles before the test.

TruckScience also fitted sight tubes to the fuel tanks and oversaw the refueling of the trucks, ensuring that every drop of fuel was accounted for.

Fitting sight tubes to the fuel tanks

“TruckScience’s role at Truck Test is to compile the specifications and the results. For this, we need accurate measurements for payload, fuel used and travelling time.

The vehicles are all weighed at the same weighbridge, to determine payload and gross combination mass.

We use the C-Track tracking system to determine the travelling time, so that we can calculate the average speed, and we fit a sight glass to the outside of the fuel tanks to get accurate fuel measurements.

Fitting sight tubes to the fuel tanks

We even do spot tyre checks. And we check the chassis heights at the fuel bowser when we’re filling up the fuel, just to make sure that the playing field is level for everybody, and that all the measurements are as accurate as they can be.”

 – Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager, TruckScience

Weigh Bridge Truck Test 2022

In the days after the Test, TruckScience collated and analysed the results, and used the Productivity formula to crown the eventual Productivity champion.

Truck Test 2022 Axle Weight Calculator & Sales Tool

Productivity, not just Fuel

We hear a lot in the industry about fuel consumption.

The truck that used the least fuel, excluding AdBlue, was the Euro 6 MAN TGX, having consumed a total of 555.58 litres of diesel. This vehicle came in an hour and 16 minutes slower than the fastest vehicle however, and consumed 44.1 litres of AdBlue.

The truck that cost the least, on combined diesel and AdBlue, was the Euro 2 MAN TGS 26.480, having spent a total of R14,045 on diesel and AdBlue for the round trip. This vehicle came in almost 2 hours slower than the fastest vehicle however.

While fuel consumption is in itself an interesting indicator of efficiency, there are other considerations. Payload obviously influences fuel consumption. So too does the speed at which a vehicle is driven. 

A more efficient vehicle is one that can carry more payload over a greater distance, using less fuel, and in less time. So fuel consumption cannot be examined in isolation.

The measure we use to evaluate vehicle efficiency is the Payload Productivity Factor: 

The vehicle that achieved the best Productivity score, that is the best overall balance between fuel consumption and average speed, was the Mercedes-Benz Actros, with Daimler Trucks’ stalwart Duncan Prince at the wheel.

Let’s examine time taken, average speed, fuel consumed and payload productivity for each of the trucks in the test. Note that the first 6 trucks pulled tautliner interlinks, and the remaining 2 were pulling tridem flatdecks.

Column1Payload Productivity FactorFuel Consumption (l/100km)Total Time (mins)Average Speed (km/hr)
FAW JH642.250.68116059.1
Iveco S-Way40.254.75112860.8
MAN TGX 26.5104448.63108763
Mercedes-Benz Actros47.951.28101167.8
MAN TGS 26.4804548.69113360.5
MAN TGS 27.48041.453.78111661.4
Iveco S-Way41.249.2107363.9
MAN TGS 27.44042.548.91104665.5

The Mercedes-Benz Actros was the clear Productivity winner, with a score of 47.9, shown here in blue.

Truck Test 2022 Axle Weight Calculator & Sales Tool Results

Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC)

Following Truck Test 2014, TruckScience recommended slowing down to save fuel.

In previous tests, vehicles driven mostly in manual mode generally achieved better results than those driven mostly in auto mode. Interestingly, this time round, the vehicles driven mostly in auto mode achieved better results.

The Mercedes-Benz Actros, International Truck of the Year in 2020, uses Predictive Powertrain Control technology. It had the highest average speed of all the trucks in the test, together with excellent fuel consumption, and therefore achieved the best overall Productivity score.

With PPC, the kinetic energy of the vehicle is used as far as possible to avoid unnecessary acceleration, shifting or braking.

“PPC already knows the road ahead and adjusts both the speed and gear selection to save fuel. The system uses digital road maps and GPS data to generate a digital horizon, which is used to optimise gear shift points, gear selection and the cruise control speed up to 2km ahead. Using what is called ‘predictive distance control’ before a dip, the distance from the vehicle in front is automatically increased to make optimal use of peak momentum and save fuel.”

One could say that using this technology is equivalent to having a sophisticated driver – with experience on the current route – in the cab every day!

Evolution of technology

5 years ago, manufacturers were reluctant to rely on auto-driving technology. Now, 5 years on, the vehicle with the highest Productivity factor (or lowest fuel consumption per average speed) was the one that was driven primarily by the technology. And indeed, the technology in all of the trucks has improved significantly.

“When comparing the results for Truck Test 2022 to the one conducted in 2012, on the same route, the fuel consumption has improved by an average of 9% for the tridem flatdeck combinations, and an astonishing 12% for the tautliner interlinks. The average speeds have remained roughly the same, therefore the lower fuel consumptions are a direct improvement on the overall productivity.”

 – Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager, TruckScience

Let the technology do the work

Since the technology can be relied on to achieve the best Productivity, the challenge now becomes training drivers to understand and apply the technology.

“Operators need to focus on training their drivers to drive the technology that drives their trucks.” says Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager, TruckScience. “The driver still plays a critical role, however not so much in terms of the skill to drive the vehicle, but rather to understand and correctly apply the different technologies that actually drive the vehicle,” he notes.

Simulating Performance with Software

TruckScience used the TruckScience Sales Tool to simulate the performance of the trucks in advance, and provided the simulated results to all the participants before the test.

On the 1.142.5km route, at an average speed of 61.4km/h, fuel consumption was estimated to be 608.2 litres.

Actual fuel consumed was between 555.58 and 625.54 litres, as the average speed of the trucks varied between 59.1km/hr (FAW) and 67.8km/hr (Mercedes-Benz).

“The process of selecting the best truck for a job is complicated by the fact that a vehicle’s performance varies considerably at different loads and on different routes, and it’s not feasible to run a test such as this one for every possible application and vehicle type that exists. With software, we can simulate all the different scenarios in a fraction of the time and at a much lower cost.

Our software uses data from the manufacturers and proven algorithms to calculate the performance of any vehicle over any route and with any load. The feedback we get from our customers is that our simulated results are typically accurate to within 5% of actuals, and this gives fleet operators the confidence to use our software to predict Total Cost of Ownership for new contracts, or to establish benchmarks for existing routes.”

– Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager, TruckScience

Tried and Tested

“Truck Test is an opportunity for us to put our scientific calculations to the test in a real-world scenario. We simulate the axle weights, fuel used and trip times before the test and then compare our results to the actual results after the test. This comparison allows us to improve our data and algorithms, so that we can simulate any vehicle over any route.”

– Martin Dammann, Customer Success Manager, TruckScience

Cost of Ownership

The list price of the trucks tested ranged from R1,779,000 ZAR ($112,349 USD) to R3,090,000 ZAR ($195,416). Of course, this opens up a whole other conversation about Cost of Ownership.

The TruckScience Sales Tool takes capital costs, fuel costs, wages, and much more into account when calculating Total Cost of Ownership.

Request a free trial of the TruckScience Sales Tool today

More about Truck Test 2022

Watch the transport event of 2022 unfold on your screens here.

Download the Specifications and Result from here.

Where else would you get it?

“Truck Test is really important, and something we look forward to all the time. Where else would you get an opportunity to benchmark against your competitors, in a very controlled ‘like for like’ manner?”

Elvis Mutseura, Product Marketing Manager, Iveco South Africa

Truck Test 2022 Axle Weight Calculator & Sales Tool

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