CTEA/AETC Convention Focuses on Future

Transport Canada Recognizes CTEA/AETC as Official Voice of Commercial Vehicle Industry TRUCK equipment distributors and manufacturers gathered in record numbers in Toronto, Canada, September 11-14, to attend the 37th annual Canadian Transportation Equipment Association/Association D'Equipement Du Transport Canada (CTEA/AETC) convention and exhibition. Outgoing president Eddy Tschirhart provided the state of the association address during the Association's Industry Luncheon. He spoke about upcoming changes and challenges for the organization and the Canadian commercial vehicle industry.

Tschirhart said that the organization had shown a steady growth throughout the past two years. "At last count, we are working with over 315 corporations to provide valuable chassis, compliance, statistical, and other forms of needed information. We are continuing our focused relationships with over 70 component manufacturers that are involved in the Canadian commercial vehicle industry. Along with this is our daily commitment to the approximately 250 dedicated truck body, trailer, and specialized chassis builders that are so vital to the Canadian economy."

Tschirhart spoke about the working relationship with Transport Canada and how that relationship has promoted the growth of industry recognized programs such as Job File 2000. "When Transport Canada published Section 8, Vehicle Completed from Chassis Cab, the association recognized that it would take a leadership role in getting the message of the pending rule changes into the field. After CTEA/AETC's series of meetings with Transport Canada last year, the association forged ahead with the development of a recommended practice concerning the development of compliance records.

"In addition to these efforts, our strategic alliance with the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) has helped to bring the joint CTEA/NTEA Truck Equipment College to Canada. Plans have commenced for the upcoming November semester, which will be held in Mississauga, Canada," said Tschirhart. "Based upon my own attendance at the classes held in Surrey this past April and comments from many of the participating members, I know that the classes combine both time and money that have been spent in a meaningful manner."

Tschirhart commented on the CTEA/AETC's beneficial involvement in provincial legislative activities. "This past year, the Ministry of Transport of Ontario announced the proposed rule changes to the existing Vehicle Weights and Dimensions and how those additions would affect self-steering axles. These issues were also being closely monitored and reviewed because of recent legislative changes in Quebec.

"Your association brought together the steering-axle and trailer manufacturers to address a number of concerns and issues arising from the legislative environment." CTEA/AETC convened the stakeholders in a series of special meetings to discuss the implications of these rule changes and to assist the governmental organizations by providing specification and a state-of-the-industry position paper on the self-steering axle issue.

"Subsequently, armed with an agreement in principle signed by the self-steering axle stakeholders, we were able to contact the appropriate governmental agencies with an organized position paper concerning the subject," Tschirhart said. "Transportation Ministry Officials from Ontario and Quebec were scheduled to meet in Toronto October 16 to discuss possible amendments to proposed or existing rules."

Tschirhart closed his address by welcoming the Honorable David Collenette, Minister of Transport Canada. "With the arrival of the Honorable David Collenette at our luncheon, we will turn to a new chapter in the 37-year history of the commercial vehicle manufacturing industry in Canada," Tschirhart said. "We have finally been recognized as a vital cog in the economic wheel of this country, and each and every one of you here today can take credit, in part, for making that happen."

Promoting Competition David Collenette, Minister of Transport Canada, spoke about the needs for consistent transportation regulation throughout all the Canadian provinces. He complimented the efforts of the CTEA/AETC for its continued efforts in both raising the professionalism of commercial truck building industry and advocating the safety enhancements that have become an everyday part of the Canadian roadway.

"The theme of this conference - Engineering Vehicle Excellence - is both timely and important. Improved vehicle systems, either mechanical such as air brakes, or electronic/intelligence-based such as the Intelligent Road Transportation System, have a potential for greatly reducing the number of collisions and lost or disrupted lives here in Canada," Collenette said. "You are the builders of those trucks and bodies. You will have a chance to participate in forming our safety regulations."

Collenette also addressed the economic concerns of many CTEA/AETC members. "You are the builders of the trucks and trailers that carry our Canadian freight. We want your companies to have a competitive advantage in the niche markets in the greater North American market for heavy equipment."

Collenette emphasized the importance of the Canadian National Safety Mark and how it can be seen as a tool in the quest for a competitive edge. "The Canadian National Safety Mark with its distinctive Maple Leaf is a symbol of quality that gives your products a competitive edge." The National Safety Mark is presented to the manufacturer that complies in the strictest form to the regulations established by governmental agencies.

Collenette spoke about the Canadian Way of creating a different kind of competitive society. In a society where the public and private sector work in harmony can be as competitive, if not more so, than other forms of regulatory environments, he said.

"In Canada, we've been working this way for generations," Collenette said. "The government of Canada takes a collaborative approach - working in partnership with industry. We call this the Canadian Way. In the Canadian Way, there is an important role for government in road safety. Our relationship with the CTEA is an excellent example of this."

Collenette reassured the CTEA members that setting high manufacturing standards does not interfere with competitiveness. In fact, it is less costly in the long run to welcome higher safety and manufacturing standards.

"Some people may argue that having high safety standards is a competitive disadvantage - that it raises the cost of doing business in this country," Collenette said. "I don't buy that argument. You can have both safety and competition.

"While noncompliance with regulatory standards may reduce the initial cost of production, cost can be considerably higher in the end. Companies pay whenever their products are recalled. They pay increased warranty cost. And sometimes, they pay litigation cost.

"At Transport Canada, safety is our top priority - and that priority pays off for the industry in many ways, including customer satisfaction and lower warranty cost. Initial cost may seem high, but if you amortize compliance costs over the life of a well-crafted, certified Canadian vehicle, those costs compare well to the benefits. The cost of compliance is a fraction of the cost of a recall."

Knowledge Has Benefits for All Collenette praised the assistance offered by CTEA/AETC during key legislative standards issues that have been ongoing for several years. He cited the North American Cargo Securement Standard and the Air Brake Certification Test as examples of Transport Canada receiving valuable knowledge that came from the direct efforts of CTEA/AETC.

"Transport Canada supports CTEA/AETC's work to increase the level of knowledge and the professionalism within your industry," Collenette said. "This is why essential partners in the Canadian Way are organizations such as the CTEA/AETC. These organizations help companies of all sizes to pool knowledge."

Collenette also recognized the CTEA/AETC organization for providing a helpful and well-placed voice in the corridors of Canadian legislative and decisionmaking houses. "If you want the Cabinet to weigh the benefits to Canada's economy of an improved road structure, you have to make your case now. And the CTEA/AETC can be your voice in Ottawa."

Collenette closed his presentation by saying, "This year's theme, Engineering Vehicle Excellence, is a fitting one. It is a theme we could take and apply to Canada as a whole. I would argue that Canada has been engineered in such a way that we have been remarkably successful as a nation. For seven straight years now, the UN has named Canada the best country in the world in which to live."

Trailer/Body Builders will publish next month additional sessions presented at the CTEA/AETC Convention.

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