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Clarience Technologies Acquires LED Autolamps

Learn what Clarience Technologies is doing to help improve the heavy-duty trucking industry.

Episode 133: In this episode, we learn more about Clarience Technologies, the driving force behind their various brands, and the recent acquisition of LED Autolamps.

Clarience Technologies operate many well-known North American Brands and are continuing to grow to better support their customers and evolve the heavy-duty trucking industry.

Our guest is Brian Kupchella, the CEO of Clarience Technologies.

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keep trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile. Recently Clarience Technologies who is focused on developing vehicle and fleet management technology innovations for the commercial vehicle, passenger car, recreational off-road machine and pleasure craft markets acquired LED Autolamps, an Australian based provider of commercial truck trailer and off highway LED lighting solutions sold in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. My guest today is Brian Kupchella, the CEO at Clarience Technologies. Brian, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Brian Kupchella:

Jamie, thank you for having me.

Jamie Irvine:

So Brian, for those who may not recognize Clarience Technologies, what well known North American brands do you have?

Brian Kupchella:

Well Clarience Technologies is comprised of a number of those Jamie. Truck-Lite, for instance, manufacturers LED lighting for the transportation industry. DAVCO Technologies manufacturers fuel heater, water separators for diesel engines, ECCO and Code 3 for emergency vehicles, material handling, and Rigid for off-road lighting and Lumitech for Marine lighting.

Jamie Irvine:

So any of us that have been selling heavy-duty parts in the North American market for any time would recognize some of those brands. What’s the driving force behind Clarience Technologies and your various brands?

Brian Kupchella:

Well, Jamie, look, we’ve seen this business transition from an electrical company to an electronics company I’d say with the past 10 years, more so in the last five. And when you look at where transportation is going today, whether it’s commercial vehicle or automotive, you know, electrification, digitization and autonomy is coming fast. So you know our goal is to make sure our businesses are positioned to support the industry, whether it’s on a heavy truck, an off-road vehicle, a marine vehicle, material handling, etc. to make sure we’re supporting their needs in mileage requirements.

Jamie Irvine:

You’re absolutely right. The amount of change in the last few years far exceeds anything in maybe the 15 years before that. So you talk about innovation and developing vehicle and fleet management technology. What’s at stake for commercial fleets if they don’t innovate?

Brian Kupchella:

Well, look with electrification coming, they’ve gotta know what’s happening on their equipment, whether it’s a tractor or a trailer. Trailers have to get smart to support electric trucks and autonomous vehicles. That truck has to know what’s happening in that trailer, whether it’s tire pressure, load, weight, etc. to accurately predict what the life will be on that heavy truck platform.

Jamie Irvine:

Realistically fleets just have a lot more data to deal with all of the innovations that are coming. So that alone is gonna drive innovation.

Brian Kupchella:

That’s correct. And there’s more data that they need that they don’t have today. For example, trailers aren’t smart today. Trailers over the next five to 10 years have to get smart to support the whole electrification initiative that’s coming through the industry.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. You know, from your perspective, one of the things I like to highlight is economic impact. There’s always an impact economically when we do something, when we don’t do something. So really give us a picture, at least from your perspective with the conversations you have with fleets about what’s at stake for them, if they innovate, what kind of economic impacts can they achieve if they fail to, how could that negatively impact their business? Just give us an overview.

Brian Kupchella:

Well, sure, you know, I think I last read that there’s a shortage of 80,000 drivers in the transportation trucking industry today. Eighty thousand. So utilization and uptime are critical. So if they’re not innovating, for example, if they’re not tracking with sensors for example, on their tractors and their trailers as to what’s failing and when it potentially could fail, so they can improve their maintenance cycles, they’re gonna have more downtime, right? And when you have a shortage of drivers that makes it even worse. Utilization is absolutely critical, right? So if your trailer is now smart and is communicating effectively to your tractor, you know how much load you’re carrying, how much load you can carry, you can improve the utilization of your fleet, right? Which would require less drivers potentially, in the future, if we’re running more efficiently.

Jamie Irvine:

And it’s really a double-edged sword, because let’s say the next eight years as we approach 2030, it’s kind of a pivotal date for baby boomers leaving the job market. And I’ve seen those numbers predicted to go as high as 160,000 driver is that we would be short in 2030. So the problem’s only gonna get worse. And to your point, if you have downtime because you’re not utilizing your equipment efficiently, then you have that double-edged sword where you’re getting impacted negatively financially from both sides of that equation.

Brian Kupchella:

That’s correct. So that makes it even more important. You know, our road ready system, which is a trailer telematic system that measures through sensors what’s happening on those trailers. It can tell you if the trailer’s ready to be on the road. So if you think about the shortage of drivers and it getting worse, drop and hook is more critical in the future. So a driver can pull in, he knows, or she knows, that trailer is ready to go. And it’s loaded and the dispatch center can help coordinate that with technology. Without that technology, no one knows, right? So it’s not only gonna cause maintenance problems, efficiency problems, but it could also cause more less efficiency problems because the driver doesn’t know where to go or if his trailer’s ready.

Jamie Irvine:

And when you’re looking at that, from that perspective, this is a big driving force, behind some of the decisions you’re making with your company I assume?

Brian Kupchella:

That’s correct. We have an initiative across all of our businesses to make sure we’re supporting where this thing is going right through electrification, but also through digitization and connectivity and with autonomous vehicles, maybe a little farther out again, that trailer has to be smart. A driver has to do a lights, tire, and brake check before they leave a yard. If there’s no driver in the vehicle, it has to be done remotely, right? So trailers not only have to get smart for electrification, but they have to get smart for autonomy, which is also gonna help the driver shortage problem in the future.

Jamie Irvine:

And with your existing brands, it puts you in contact directly with the fleets at many different levels inside of like the overarching commercial vehicle space or passenger car space. So this gives you a lot of information about what’s happening in real time today, I’m sure is very useful in helping planning the future. And that’s why you’ve got that focus on innovation.

Brian Kupchella:

That’s correct. Our Truck-Lite business has been around for 70 years and it’s really, I guess the pillar that everything had been built around as we rebranded Clarience. So our relationships in the industry go back 70 years, whether it’s the trailer OEMs, the fleets themselves, or even into the aftermarket, that’s been very strong and that’s opening the doors for us as we bring this technology in.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part, go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high quality fuel injections for heavy-duty applications? Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line, which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were talking about the direction where commercial vehicles are going, the need for innovation. Brian, on November 29th, 2021, you announced that you acquired LED Autolamps. Give us some background on them and tell us why did you acquire that company?

Brian Kupchella:

We believe that as electrification continues to gain traction, the platforms are gonna become more of a global platform. Where in today North American vehicles and European vehicle are somewhat different, we think there’s gonna be a lot of similarities going forward. So we’re a global company today. One of our goals on top of supporting technology is to make sure we’re located, in parts of the world where our customers are, whether it’s the OEMs or the fleets, right? So acquiring LED Autolamps in Australia gives us a stronger footprint in the Australian/New Zealand market and in the UK, where we are already established with our Truck-Lite business and our ECCO business. But it also has a number of SKUs that we didn’t have to our total portfolio, which really supports, because they’re mostly all LED lights, just again, supports our customers needs going forward with low amp draw technology to support these electric vehicles that are coming.

Jamie Irvine:

It seems to me, I’ve talked with other manufacturers that are both in Europe and in North America. And it does seem to me like the trend is moving towards there being more similarities between the vehicles in the global market than there were in the past. Do you see that coming as well?

Brian Kupchella:

Yes, absolutely. You know, photometric requirements might take a little longer to commonize throughout the globe. That’ll happen overtime, but voltage will absolutely. I think come a lot sooner, right? European vehicles tend to run more in the 24 volt systems versus U.S. runs on the 12. I think with electrification, that’s gonna become a common practice across the industry, which will drive more commonality on the technology.

Jamie Irvine:

So our audience is global, but a lot of it is in the North American market. They might be thinking, well, how does this acquisition help something like the Truck-Lite brand, how would that work?

Brian Kupchella:

It’ll expand Truck-Lite’s, presence globally into other truck and trailer OEMs, which will bring new technology into Truck-Lite, which could get pushed on into the North American market if we’re not utilizing that technology today.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. And that expansion does strengthen your relationships with the manufacturers of equipment. So that, like you said, that enables you to work with them. And I’m sure you’ve got application engineers that are designing and spec’ing things for them too, so then all of this has that trickle-down effect. The innovation is good for everyone.

Brian Kupchella:

That’s exactly right. And you know, Jamie, we’ve got quite a presence with the automotive OEMs, through our Rigid business. You know, you tend to see automotive maybe a little further ahead of commercial truck with technology, right? So that relationship is giving us a little bit of insight as to what’s coming. That we can be ahead of the ball game with our commercial vehicle customers to make sure we’re getting them the technology as quickly as possible or first if possible.

Jamie Irvine:

So I’d like to read a portion of the press release. The purchase of LED Autolamps expands Clarience Technologies presence outside of North America while strengthening its presence in Australia and Europe, just as electric and autonomous technologies begin to transform the global commercial transportation industry. You keep bringing up the autonomous vehicles, you keep bringing that subject up. How does electric and autonomous technology fit into the big picture for you? Maybe just give us an overview of that and an insight into how you see that going in the mid to near future.

Brian Kupchella:

You think of, let’s just focus on electric for a second. If you think about electric vehicles and what what’s most important to the owner is mileage, right? They gotta be able to get from point A to point B and know what that mileage. In our industry, that we serve, what can kill battery life, are parasitic loads, you know, things like lights or heaters or radios, et cetera. So we just released an A to Z initiative, which is Amps to Zero across all of our businesses. Most of what we sell in all of our businesses are LED products, low amp draw products that were really developed back in the early nineties. You know, and back then amps were able to be reduced by 50% across the board, which is a big help back then with braking systems on trailers.

For example, if you think about parasitic loads and what that can do to battery life today, you’ve gotta pull it back down again. So our goal is to reduce the amps by another 50% from where they were. So you think about all the lighting systems, headlamps, interior lights, marker lights, you know, taillights all around those vehicles. There’s a lot of amp drop. So the more amp drop we can reduce, the longer battery life and mileage the owner’s going to have, so that’s a big push in everything that we’re doing globally.

Jamie Irvine:

What that brought to mind is how commercial trucks now are getting closer and closer to what you experience in a car. There’s so many more systems in a commercial truck, which is all putting load on that electrical system. So that plays a role in it as well does not?

Brian Kupchella:

That’s absolutely right. So our goal is to help offset that because some of that’s gonna be needed, right? Rollover protection, collision avoidance, right? That’s all there for safety for the drivers. So we’re doing whatever we can do to free up power again for mileage, but also for safety systems that have to be employed on these vehicles going forward.

Jamie Irvine:

So when people think about your company and the brands that you now have, what’s that one thing you want people to remember about what it is that you and your company are trying to do?

Brian Kupchella:

In our industry, it’s all about uptime, right? Whether it’s a heavy truck, a trailer or somebody driving an off-road vehicle through the desert or a boat on a lake or in the ocean, right. We want to make sure we’re giving our customer a quality product that’s going to last the life of the vehicle and give them the performance that they need, not have to worry about whether it’s going to perform or not. And again, we feel that’s even more important going forward with these initiatives that we’re seeing the industry push forward.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And we’ve been speaking with Brian Kupchella, the CEO at Clarience Technologies. To learn more, visit clarencetechnologies.com. Links will be in the show notes. Brian, thank you so much for being on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report and congratulations on the acquisition of LED Autolamps.

Brian Kupchella:

Jamie, thank you very much. All the best to you.

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