In today’s market, it is especially important to consider specifying your next new dump truck with both vehicle productivity and driver comfort and satisfaction in mind.

Bed materials, shape, capacity, and other features help determine a truck’s productivity. If your choice of dump body helps to haul a half-ton more than the next guy, you’re not just going to be more profitable but that half-ton is going to win you contract after contract over the vehicle’s life. But payload is only part of the equation.

“The biggest trend in dump truck design is driver comfort and satisfaction,” says Kevin Baney, chief engineer at Kenworth Truck Co. A larger interior, a more logical dash and switch layout, better braking performance, and information centers with instant feedback are features that can improve the driver’s experience both on the road and at the jobsite.

“The body builder largely defines a vehicle’s allowable payload based on what and where you’re hauling,” Baney explains. “But the cab and chassis play a vital role in keeping drivers happy and productive.”

Many of these design elements have evolved over the years, especially as truck manufacturers account for the wider variety of body types and experience levels in the workforce. Here are six features to help truck owners focus on filling both the driver’s seat and the dump bed:

1. More Interior Space

A cab should also accommodate the personal equipment an operator uses on the job. There are three ways to create more space in a cab:

  • Increase the length and width.
  • Eliminate clutter and protrusions on the floor.
  • Optimize the seating position for clean sightlines.

“Visibility is one of the most important operating features at a jobsite,” says Baney. The combination of a tall windshield and lower windshield base in the Kenworth T880 vocational truck resulted in a 50% larger windshield than the previous generation cab, giving the driver a better view of the terrain, obstacles, and workers around the truck.

“The interior should accommodate and adjust to a wide range of body types and sizes,” Baney says.

2. Powertrain

Engine technology has evolved, and truck owners who aren’t aware risk specifying more power than they need. “A 13-liter engine, with the proper power band, can rival a 15-liter engine in many vocational truck applications,” says Baney.

Nor does a 13-liter engine limit your choice of transmission. Baney says Eaton’s 8LL and 18-speed manuals remain leading specs among dump truck buyers at Kenworth, but the need to attract and retain drivers is pushing the industry toward automated and automatic transmissions. Operating a manual transmission requires more effort and concentration on the road and in the work zone.