FMCSA report: Alignment merits further research

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A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study indicates further research of dynamic and static alignment could affect the trucking industry as dramatically as altering entire truck frames. The study, Tractor-Trailer Dynamic Alignment and Research, was one of several ordered by the previous federal transportation bill.

Researchers concluded, “Such research could shed valuable light on a little-studied yet vitally important area of truck maintenance.” The information gained from such research could result in differently designed suspensions, alignment mechanism and even entire truck frames. This work could be used to modify static alignment settings, if current settings are less than ideal, or to yield better performance on the road.

On the other hand, researchers also said analysis may show the industry’s current knowledge represents optimal settings for vehicle alignment. One area of research, the study said, might lead to equipment that would allow for real-time changes in alignment settings in response to various conditions such as speed and loads.

Researchers interviewed truck makers including Freightliner and Volvo and suppliers such as ArvinMeritor, Eaton and Goodyear. They also talked to fleet operators and conducted a product literature search.