What are Over-The-Road Fleets Saying about UltraShift® PLUS Transmissions?
“UltraShift PLUS will definitely be our standard spec going forward.”
Maintenance Manager Stagecoach Cartage, El Paso, Texas
Twice the Truckload Carriers Association has recognized Stagecoach Cartage with national safety awards, with the 27-year-old fleet capturing the group's highest Grand Award honor in 2007. Safety here is obviously a top priority.
After testing an UltraShift PLUS for roughly 10 months, John Plote, maintenance manager, believes the new transmissions will definitely help nourish that priority. "Our drivers say the Hill Start Aid works great," says Plote. "With our older transmissions, they had to jump off the brake and immediately hit the accelerator very hard to avoid bumping into a vehicle behind them whenever they were on a steep grade. This is absolutely a much better set-up."
Plote is equally enthusiastic about the new electronic clutch actuator on the UltraShift PLUS transmissions. "Based on what we have seen so far, I am anticipating much better performance and reliability for the life of the vehicle," he adds. "So we are anticipating some maintenance cost reductions, too."
His Eaton transmission is mated with an International ProStar tractor, which performs overthe- road, general freight hauling throughout mostly the southern U.S. and California.
Looking to keep those routes safely and efficiently serviced, Plote says, "UltraShift PLUS will definitely be our standard spec going forward."
With 125 tractors and 230 refrigerated trailers, Baldwin Distribution services a wide list of customers in all 48 continental states. Dudley Baldwin, president of the company, has been running an Eaton UltraShift Plus LAS (Linehaul Active Shifting) transmission for more than eight months.
"The performance has been great and our driver has been very well pleased with it," says Baldwin. "He reports that the shifting is much smoother, and basically has better sensing as to when to shift as it goes through the gears."
Baldwin's UltraShift PLUS transmission is installed in a Volvo VN 780 truck, which will typically run from Texas to California, out to the Midwest and back to Amarillo headquarters. "When making that run, we have been getting a quarter of a mile better fuel consumption when compared to the automated 12-speed from a different manufacturer that was previously in the vehicle," he adds. "We are averaging about 6.5 miles per gallon now, which is very good for that route."
Is there a future for Eaton's UltraShift PLUS transmissions for the 40-year trucking industry veteran? "I will definitely be buying the new transmissions with upcoming new truck orders," says Baldwin.
Dee King Trucking
As a full service transportation company specializing in everything from hauling cattle to pulling reefers, Dee King Trucking has been running two Eaton UltraShift PLUS LAS transmissions for about eight months. One is operating with a Freightliner Cascadia tractor and the other inside a Peterbilt 386 tractor.
Company president, Dee King, says both units, with recent software updates from Eaton, have been performing flawlessly. "They have been great so far," notes King. "Our drivers have had no issues, and we are even getting better fuel consumption that we had been getting with the old 10-speed manuals."
The company, which opened its doors in 1992, currently has 83 tractors and 130 trailers and provides service to customers in all 48 continental states. King says safety is a top priority of his, and the UltraShift transmissions are helping nicely in this area, as well.
"It's great that the Eaton transmissions now allow the drivers to keep both hands on the wheel and do not have to worry about shifting," says King, who boasts 32 years of experience in trucking. "They're also reporting not feeling nearly as tired at the end of their shifts."
Family owned and operated, Pride Transport is a refrigerated carrier providing coast-to-coast service throughout the U.S. Sean Webb, director of maintenance, has been running one of his newer model Freightliner Cascadia tractors with an Eaton UltraShift PLUS LAS transmission for close to a year.
"I've driven the vehicle myself and it's just neat stuff the way that transmission performs," says Webb, who has been with Pride for 26 years. "The Hill Start Aid feature is especially impressive, as is the way the transmission backs up and allows for really smooth hook-ups. It is a huge improvement over the older Eaton automated transmissions."
Webb adds that he has not had one "issue" with the transmission since it debuted at Pride, and the current driver "must like it because we have not heard from him regarding anything negative."
Pride currently runs about 300 power units and roughly 450 trailers. All future new truck purchases, adds Webb, "will definitely include the new transmission. In fact, I'd like to have them in all of my trucks right now if I could."