Fleets Invest In Seat Technology To Improve Driver Comfort Fleets Invest In Seat Technology To Improve Driver Comfort

Fleets Invest In Seat Technology To Improve Driver Comfort

Since truck drivers spend so much of their professional lives sitting behind the steering wheel, the driver’s seat is a crucial part of the vehicle spec.

The latest truck seats now offer increased adjustability, advanced materials and more effective suspension to increase driver comfort. Higher-end cab comfort is also a perk advertised by fleets to attract and retain drivers.

“The last thing we want to do is lose a driver over an uncomfortable seat,” said Kyle Neumann, maintenance director for food-grade bulk carrier Foodliner. “Drivers aren’t bashful. If they’re uncomfortable, they’re going to let you know. That has driven us to constantly look at seats and make sure we’re staying ahead of the curve, so we’re giving them the best ­option that is out there.”

Seat design has evolved, said Sandeep Premkumar, chief technical engineer for human factors and ergonomics at truck maker Navistar.

“We now have more objective and subjective data around seat discomfort, seat materials have changed, new testing equipment/methods are being developed, seats have gotten better at isolating road inputs and new functions have been added to seats,” he said.

Science and engineering are the dominant forces behind the new designs, said John Duax, director of the North American aftermarket business for Sears Seating.

“Not only does the seat have to be comfortable to the driver, but there also has to be some science behind it to eliminate a couple major issues prevalent in trucking for years — driver’s fatigue and lost time due to injury,” he said.

Less-than-truckload carrier A. Duie Pyle specs premium seats to help improve safety.

“If I have a poor seat, it can lead to back injuries,” said Dan Carrano, vice president of fleet maintenance for the West Chester, Pa.-based fleet.

Carrano said lumbar support and adjustability are critical to comfort, but adjustments were limited in the past.

“You just had the air that would raise and lower the seat and the seat slide to move it up and back,” he said, adding that now the seat base can be adjusted to make it longer, and there is a tilt on most seat bottoms. “Between the length of the seat cushion, the tilt of the seat cushion and the lumbar support, the adjustability is pretty drastic.”

A. Duie Pyle also specs armrests to increase comfort. Carrano said the armrests help support a driver’s shoulders and arms and prevent arm and neck strains.

Adam Lindloff, aftermarket sales manager at Seats Inc., said the company’s high-end seat, the Pinnacle, offers about 8 million positions when considering every possible adjustment. Plus, drivers can adjust the seat without removing their weight.

However, drivers may not always realize the extent to which they can make those adjustments.

“You would think people know how to adjust their seat correctly, but they don’t always,” said Gary Hamberg, a vice president at New Albany, Ohio-based Commercial Vehicle Group, which manufactures National Seating and Bostrom brand seats.

Foodliner’s Neumann said Sears Seating has sent representatives to address driver concerns.

“They may find out that maybe the seat just wasn’t adjusted for the size of the driver,” he said.

Lindloff said the wide range of drivers’ body types and the increasing number of women entering the trucking industry has made ease of adjustability more important.

“Female drivers have complained they can’t get up high enough to see over the hood,” he said. “You can change the rake angle, which increases the hip point where the occupant is sitting. You’re sitting higher, but the position isn’t interfering with you getting to the pedals.”

Read the entire story at Transport Topics. 

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