For my first Big Truck TV blog I thought I would give the readers an example of what I mean by connecting the dots. As a Technology Transfer Consultant for Auburn University I use my many years of experience to help find a home for technology developments that come out of the research labs. Lately, I took an interest in a technology called syntactic foams that we have available for licensing. After hours of studying the technology and searching the Internet, I found a company and hopefully the in-house champion that most technology needs to be commercialized.
A local TV newscast broke a story about the failure of the classic ICC bumper that is part of the rear of a truck or trailer to keep a car from going under the bigger vehicle. It is called the Interstate Commerce Commission bumper (details at the end of this article) because that was the name of the government agency that mandated their use. The failure during a crash resulted in an unnecessary death of a passenger car driver. As part of the story they interviewed a congressman and got him very excited about this issue.
One thing I learned is the syntactic foam does have the ability to be constructed in such a way as to have superior energy absorption capacity. I also learned about ICC bumpers and found out they are built from four inch hollow steel tubing. What if this Auburn development could be part of the ICC bumper, maybe inside, maybe outside, maybe both? Or, maybe there is a better material or design.
When Big Truck TV offered me this forum, the first thing I thought was with Big Truck TV’s reach, my experience, and Auburn University’s interest in being of service to the transportation industry, the future is not what it used to be when it comes to connecting the dots and solving trucking industry problems.
Hopefully, someone will read this, contact me and ask the starter question - what would it take to get Auburn to redesign the ICC bumper using the syntactic foam technology or something better?
After that discussion the second thing I will tell them is, in my experience, the trucking industry will not beat a path to your door just for a safer bumper. To sell it, to market it, it has got to be lighter weight, lower maintenance (never rust) and hopefully cheaper than the standard bumper. Then you might get some OEM interest. And by the way, don’t expect a mass changeover on older vehicles. It would take an excited congressman to make that happen.
*Truck underride is when a passenger vehicle crashes into and penetrates beneath, or "underrides", the taller rear or side of a large truck or trailer. The top of the car is crushed or ripped off, and the occupants suffer severe head trauma or may be decapitated. Rear guards on trucks and trailers were initially required in 1953, and are known as ICC bumpers (Interstate Commerce Commission).