Downshifting and double clutching, a driver approaches a tight turn with 80,000 pounds barreling down the road. He looks in his mirrors at traffic, makes the turn, and in the midst of this stressful situation, he struggles to find the right gear to start out.
Shifting may not be the leading cause of driver turnover, but it is a factor–especially among newly minted drivers. With a device called the GearMaster, fleets can provide drivers with the peace of mind of using an autoshift transmission but at a fraction of the cost, says Kent Price, president of GearMaster International.
The GearMaster is an electronic gear availability and synchronization indicator. The electronic device is about the size of a textbook and shows a visual representation of the relationship between a truck’s RPM and the shift ranges for all types of heavy-duty manual transmissions. With a quick glance at the GearMaster, installed on the dash, drivers can determine what gears they can engage based on their current RPM.
A tach arrow at the bottom of the screen moves to the right or left, depending on the engine RPM. Above the arrow is a horizontal line that shows the optimal shifting range. A horizontal line above this shows the engine operating range. A row of gear numbers is at the top of the screen. This row displays the gear numbers, in sequence from left to right, with the top gear at the left. When the vehicle is in gear, the gear that is engaged is in the middle of the row, directly above the tach arrow. When the clutch is disengaged and/or when the transmission is in neutral, the gear numbers move left to right, as the RPM of the engine moves.
By glancing at the GearMaster, a driver can upshift or downshift without double clutching or grinding gears, Price says. He can also pull a vehicle out of gear without using the clutch by using the accelerator to line up the tach arrow directly with the gear that is presently engaged.
For fleet installations, Price recommends putting the GearMaster on training trucks. If the driver likes it, let them keep it for as long as he works for the company. He also recommends to announce to the entire fleet that the company will provide it if drivers are interested.
“If you add up all of the frustrations of driving a truck, (the GearMaster) can take one of the stress factors away,” he says.
The GearMaster can easily be configured to only work in one truck, to prevent any stolen devices from working.
The typical fleet price for the GearMaster is $745, Price says.
To find out more information about the GearMaster, visit www.gearmaster.com or call 1-866-432-7728