Driver leaning out window smiling

Keeping Drivers Happy3 Retention Saving Products Fleet Managers Should Embrace

Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2021 by Kirt Weaver in Product Insight
Tagged with SmartValve , ROI Cabmate , & Cat's Eye

With the driver shortage at an all-time high, professional truck drivers are in a unique position to be selective on who they drive for, remaining patient until they find a fleet that they feel invests in them. Such factors are contributing to the driver turnover rate that remains above 90% in large fleets and why 60% of fleets are offering sign-on bonus’ to attract drivers, according to HDT and NTI. The high driver turnover can be partially attributed to trucks and trailers equipped with older technology. Because of the high demand for qualified drivers, fleet managers are learning the benefits of driver-focused technology and drivers’ desires to work for fleets who provide equipment which prioritizes their health, safety and comfort. Fleets that invest in their drivers’ well-beings see improved work ethics and create employees for a lifetime.

The SmartValve™

Link Electronic Height Control Valve - SmartValve

Link’s SmartValve is an electronic chassis height control valve, engineered with the purpose of making a driver’s job safer and easier.

Drivers with the SmartValve experience reduced fatigue and risk of injury from trips in and out of the cab to adjust landing gear. Cranking a loaded landing gear during drop-and-hook operations with a heavy load is a thing of the past when your trucks are equipped with the SmartValve.

The SmartValve allows the driver to adjust the height of the fifth wheel by utilizing the full range of travel on the chassis suspension. Similar to a terminal tractor, the driver can connect to the trailer kingpin regardless of what height it was dropped at. With a push of a button, the fifth wheel height can be raised or lowered by adding or removing air from the suspension air springs. Once the fifth wheel is connected, the suspension can then be raised to lift the load off the landing gear so that drivers don’t have to crank a loaded landing gear to adjust for the trailer’s height. Instead, drivers only need to retract the landing gear once the weight of the load is removed. These features reduce strain on the driver by reducing the resistance on the landing gear, and therefore reducing the amount of force needed to crank the landing gear to travel position. Drop-and-hook operations can now be faster and, more importantly, safer.

SmartValve also increases productivity. Drivers will no longer be required to wait around for a yard truck to move a trailer out to provide access to the landing gear when parking lot space is limited and trailers are parked closely together. The SmartValve allows drivers to hook up to a trailer even if the landing gear is not exposed. Once hooked, the driver can connect airlines and pull forward, providing access to the landing gear crank, allowing the driver to adjust the landing gear for travel and then return to the cab to prepare for departure.

The SmartValve can also save fleets money with fuel economy and maintenance costs, reducing the cost of trucking. With the SmartValve’s built-in features, the suspension will automatically level based on a specific MPH. The precision monitoring of the ride height reduces wear on driveline components. Automatic leveling also has the potential to increase fuel economy by reducing the air resistance against a trailer that is either over or under ride height. With OEM integration, the SmartValve can be a tool for fuel economy.

The ROI Cabmate®

ROI Cabmate Freightliner Cascadia Model rendering

Link’s ROI Cabmate is a driver focused solution addressing comfort and fatigue. This electronically controlled cab suspension increases ride comfort, improves cab stability and reduces noise and vibration. The suspension reacts to road conditions in real time by adjusting the shock stiffness every few milliseconds to minimize cab vibrations and road shock from rough roads and unexpected bumps. By reducing the road vibrations, drivers experience less fatigue, therefore increasing their awareness while behind the wheel. The ROI Cabmate provides continuously optimized driver comfort.

A more comfortable and stable cab is also a much safer environment for the driver. Less cab bounce and cab roll mean less movement between the driver and the controls so they can maintain hand positions and a steady line of site. Reducing heavy vibrations and bump impacts reduces the in-cab hazards of objects falling from shelves or cabinets and team drivers will have less sleep disruptions from bumps and road transitions.

Ride comfort, cab stability and vibration reduction all play an important role in driver health and safety. Vibration causes fatigue and drowsiness which is the leading cause of fatal truck accidents, and many drivers experience chronic musculoskeletal injuries from prolonged exposure to vibration. Equipment that can improve driving comfort and reduce risk of injury is a key part recruiting and retaining professional drivers.

The Cat’s Eye®

Dual Tire Cats Eye

A third option to integrate driver preferred technology is Link’s Cat’s Eye Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This system is placed on dual or super single tires for either a tractor or trailer. At a glance, a driver is able to see whether the tires are at a proper PSI. When the yellow eye is closed, the tires have ideal pressure. When partially opened, the driver knows that the tires need air. If the eye opens fully, the tires require immediate attention. A driver requires no guesswork with the Cat’s Eye. The single checkpoint provides an easy and obvious way for drivers to check their duals’ pressure.

The Cat’s Eye system also works to equalize the tire pressure between duals. A hose connects the two duals, working to equalize the duals’ tire pressure without any effort required from the driver. Should the hose experience damage, an internal check valve will prevent air leakage. The system also provides drivers with a single air point for the duals. To fill both tires, a driver will use the single point to fill both tires to an equal pressure, saving time and effort.

A Happy Driver = Retention

Link’s three products are just a few solutions to keep your drivers happier. With reduced injuries and easier drop and hook thanks to the SmartValve, a stable and comfortable Cab environment with ROI Cabmate, and an easy solution to dual tire pressure with the Cat’s Eye, drivers will have an easier time with their job and feel better while doing it. These three products provide the relief drivers have been asking for to help them do their job easier.

Drivers who used the SmartValve, ROI Cabmate and Cat’s Eye system say that they would miss the advantages if they were moved to a truck without them. One driver said, “The ROI Cabmate provided a noticeable reduction in road vibration. The ride feels more stable with a huge improvement in cab stability during high crosswinds. It would be very difficult to go back to the standard cab suspension.”

Another said, “The SmartValve is fantastic, not only for leveling purposes, but also for raising the suspension during hookup to take pressure off the landing gear. Outstanding find and addition to the tractors! The SmartValve is a home run.”

Drivers who feel as though their fleets invest in them and their well-beings are content and loyal, improving their work ethic and creating employees for a lifetime.

If you have any questions about our SmartValve, ROI Cabmate or Cat’s Eye systems, please let us know. Our team will be happy to answer your questions and put them in touch with a dealer near you.

Blog Author

Kirt Weaver

North American Sales Manager – Fleets

Kirt Weaver - Senior Account Manager