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Bendix celebrates record year for company patents

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Bendix employees post with patent plaques at the company's annual dinner. (Courtesy: BENDIX)

ELYRIA, Ohio — Discovery and curiosity drive inventors to create solutions that have a lasting impact on the world around them.

In 2018, inventors from across Bendix (Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake) made their own lasting impact by earning 52 U.S. patents, the most ever for the company in one year, according to Richard Beyer, vice president of engineering and R&D.

Spurred by their passion for safety technologies, 59 inventors contributed – individually or in groups – to the record patent total.

In all, Bendix received 60 U.S. patents, including eight filed on its behalf by parent company Knorr-Bremse. Among the recipients, 22 inventors received their first patents and several Bendix employees gained personal milestones: six inventors were granted their fifth patents, two reached their 10th, and three attained the 15-patent mark. This year’s honorees also include two prolific innovators, individuals who each hold 42 patents.

Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, honored the inventors at its annual patent dinner.

The dinner celebrated the inventors’ achievements, including 150 new invention disclosures submitted by employees last year. At the end of 2018, Bendix reached a total of 317 active U.S. patents and 171 active foreign patents.

“We are proud to celebrate the inspiring work of our inventors as they strive to advance Bendix safety products and technologies through ingenuity,” Beyer said. “The patents are a testament to their passion for finding solutions to even the most complex problems. Together, these innovators are helping Bendix shape tomorrow’s transportation, and contributing to a safer future on our highways.”

According to Beyer, the engineers and other inventors celebrated at the patent dinner also help define the Bendix culture of stressing training and education – and reflect the company’s emphasis on providing an environment that fosters creativity and knowledge expansion.

Bendix employs more than 325 North American-based engineers performing R&D, design, quality, manufacturing, testing, and technical sales roles. To aid new and experienced professionals as they work on the forefront of technology, the company provides a variety of career development and hands-on activities, Beyer said. In addition, Bendix has in place a long-standing engineering co-op program across many of its North American facilities, along with a selective Engineering Development Program for new graduates.

The Bendix Co-Op program offers engineering students currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs the opportunity to obtain meaningful, hands-on work experience that complements their classroom learning. Working closely alongside seasoned professionals in North America, as well as with Knorr-Bremse colleagues around the globe, the program offers participants a wide range of disciplines and enables Bendix to help develop a pipeline from which to recruit new talent.

The Engineering Development Program (EDP), established in 2011, is a three-year rotational program that allows newly degreed engineers to develop in rotations of one year each in system development, product development, customer application, and/or advanced manufacturing engineering. The range of dynamic engineering challenges, at a variety of Knorr-Bremse global locations and Bendix North American facilities, increases the exposure to key areas within the organization and rounds out the capabilities of participants, providing significant experience, as well as the skill sets required to help deliver the next generation of commercial vehicle safety technology.

“The commercial vehicle industry is evolving like never before. It’s an exciting time to be an engineer with the many emerging requirements of electric vehicles, highly automated driving (HAD), advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and advanced safety systems. But with these new technologies comes the need for new skill mixes and skill sets.  That’s why continuous learning and growth are essential,” Beyer said.

A part of that growth opportunity is the company’s Technical Skills Enhancement (TSE) program. TSE is a robust engineering curriculum that offers diverse technical skills training and features the mechatronics educational curriculum at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), in Rochester, New York. The 18-month certification program, hosted primarily online, is open to practicing engineers at Bendix.

Bendix and New York Air Brake LLC (NYAB) – a North American sister company within the Knorr-Bremse Group – enjoy a long-standing relationship with RIT, and helped develop the Knorr-Bremse North America Mechatronics Laboratory at RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering. Mechatronics – the intersection of electrical and mechanical engineering – is a critical component in advancing many commercial vehicle and rail safety technologies. The laboratory serves both RIT students and engineers from NYAB and Bendix.

While helping its engineers develop, Bendix also strives to prepare future technology leaders and generate interest in the commercial vehicle industry overall. Following on its strong commitment to education and to help advance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs, the company supports a growing list of initiatives within the communities in which it operates – including robotics programs and maker spaces – as well as an annual Discover Engineering program, open to children and grandchildren of Bendix employees.

The Discover Engineering program enables middle and high school students to visit company headquarters for a firsthand engineering experience. Bendix professionals provide an overview of engineering fields, plus lead demonstrations, site tours, hands-on activities, and more to show how a career in engineering can make a long-lasting impact on people’s lives.

To further inspire the next generation, Bendix also regularly opens its doors to local schools to learn about engineering, including design, prototype, test, hardware-in-the-loop, and materials engineering. These tours give students an up-close look at the daily lives of engineers to help develop an interest in STEM.

“Bendix engineers strive to reshape the world for the better – through everything from designing safer trucks to pioneering remanufacturing solutions,” Beyer said. “Their passion for engineering and innovation is visible not only through their work, but also in their commitment to inspire up-and-coming engineers. With their continued effort inside and beyond our walls, the future is bright for engineering – and brighter for all of us.”

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July trailer sales up slight;y, but below last year; used Class 8 sales fall again

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Both ACT Research and FTR reported trailer sales in July as being up slightly over June, but still far below the same month one year ago. (Courtesy: GREAT DANE)

The nation’s two organizations that track and analyze data about the commercial motor vehicle market both note that trailer orders were up in July as compared to June but were still far below when compared with the same month last year.

One of the two organizations reported used Class 8 sales fell for the fourth consecutive month.

ACT Research said preliminary estimate for July 2019 net trailer orders is 9,900 units. Final volume will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within +/- 3% of the final order tally.

FTR reported preliminary trailer orders for July at 9,000 units, up 61% from dismal June numbers but 68% below July 2018. FTR said trailer orders continue to show weakness during the summer months after experiencing a record run in the second half of last year, noting that van fleets already have their orders in for 2019 and have not started ordering yet for 2020. Although currently, production remains robust at near-record levels, some easing of build rates is expected as backlogs fall significantly to where they were at the start of 2018, FTR said. Trailer orders for the past 12 months now total 324,000 units.

“While net trailer order volume improved significantly from June’s dramatically disappointing results, the industry’s year-over-year performance continued to be extremely weak. While net orders jumped 65% versus an amazingly weak June, they were 66%  below this point last year, a tough comparison to the first month of the record-setting order run-up of last summer and fall,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research. “While some fleets made investment commitments in response to the opening of some 2020 order boards, their overall response was lackluster. A few months ago, there was strong interest to push commitments into next year, but uncertainty over the economy, freight volumes, and capacity has now caused many fleets to move to the sidelines as they re-assess their true needs for either replacement of older equipment or additions to fleet capacity next year.”

On a positive note, Maly said the cancellation pressures of recent months appeared to ease a bit in July. However, any cancels are likely impacting fourth quarter production slots, so there is still some churn in order board occurring before year-end.

“That results in a fairly soft foundation for early next year. Also worth noting is that production continued at a solid pace in July, although OEMs definitely slid back from June’s frantic pace,” he said.

Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, said trailer orders should stay subdued in August but start to revive in September, as fleets determine their needs for next year. The environment remains uncertain, with freight growth slowing and the tariff situation in flux.

“The July order volumes continue to demonstrate a possible return to normalcy in the equipment markets. The low total is representative of a typical slow summer order month, and is very close to the July 2016 number,” he said.

As for the used truck market, Steve Tam, ACT’s vice president of research, said preliminary used truck sales fell 2% month-over-month, the fourth consecutive sequential drop.

Other data released in ACT’s preliminary report included sequential comparisons for July 2019, which showed that average prices fell 4%, while average miles climbed 2%, and average age was up 4%.

“Used truck prices are the hottest topic in the industry right now,” Tam said. “Many dealers are experiencing significant softening in prices, but the erosion is not uniform. Depending on a host of factors, experiences vary and a few factors that impact prices include customer, equipment specifications, location, and vehicle condition.”

ACT’s Classes 3-8 Used Truck Report provides data on the average selling price, miles, and age based on a sample of industry data. In addition, the report provides the average selling price for top-selling Class 8 models for each of the major truck OEMs – Freightliner (Daimler); Kenworth and Peterbilt (Paccar); International (Navistar); and Volvo and Mack (Volvo).

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ACT Research: Key risk to CV market forecasts is China trade wars

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This chart showing the U.S. dollar to Chinese yen (RMB), illustrates why trade wars are neither good, nor easy to win, an ACT Research official said, (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, the key risk to all commercial vehicle market forecasts remains the on-again trade war with China.

“This month’s chart, the U.S. dollar to Chinese yuan (RMB) illustrates why trade wars are neither good, nor easy to win,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “As can be seen, after the U.S. fired the latest salvo in the trade war on August 1, the Chinese responded with in-kind tariffs and a 3% currency devaluation — so far. Since the first ‘shots’ of the trade war were fired on March 1, 2018, the RMB has fallen 12% versus the U.S. dollar.

“So, tariffs imposed by the U.S. have been met with in-kind tariffs from China, and the Chinese government has allowed the yuan to devalue, thereby offsetting the U.S. tariff impact, while simultaneously making US goods even more expensive in China.”

Vieth said the bigger risk, especially to emerging economies is that in order to compete with China, they will have to devalue their currencies, making US goods more expensive in more countries and raising the risk of a deeper global downturn.

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

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ACT Research: Heavy duty markets at the edge of the precipice

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This graph by ACT Research shows freight growth will decline in 2020 and 2021 before accelerating in 2022, Class 8 truck productivity will remain in the negative through 2022 but will become less each year. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind.  – According to ACT Research’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, current data and anecdotes make a strong case that the heavy-duty vehicle markets are at the edge of the precipice.

“Since the start of this demand up-cycle in late 2017, we have targeted this year’s third quarter as the point at which the industry was likely to see production rollover,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “That targeting was largely derived from historical precedent, with historical peak-level build lasting between 13 and 15 months. For the current cycle, we date peak build rates to June 2018, so August represents the 15th month of peak-level production.”

Regarding heavy vehicle demand, Vieth said, “At the heart of our cycle duration prediction, carrier profitability and production peaks always lag the freight cycle, so capacity building always accelerates relative to freight growth at exactly the wrong time, every time.

“Large new inventories and deteriorating freight and rate conditions suggest erring on the side of caution remains the right call, and we are warning those in the industry to be prepared for down weeks starting as early as fourth quarter.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

 

 

 

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