Equipment – April 2004

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Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems’ Roll Stability Control (RSC) for tractors and trucks has won the 2003 Technical Achievement Award from the Truck Writers of North America.

Loading Automation Inc. is now the exclusive North American distributor for Hydraroll Material Handling Systems, which was acquired last year by Jolada International Ltd. of Liverpool, England.

Mil Neumaticos Solucion, S.A. DE C.V., has been signed as the third Michelin Retread Technologies (MRT) franchise in Mexico.

Autocar Trucks has added a parts distribution center in Reno, Nev. The new facility will stock the top 70 percent of Autocar parts.

FWD/Seagrave Holdings, owner of Seagrave Fire Apparatus, is acquiring Schmidt Engineering & Equipment, which manufactures Wausau and Snogo heavy-duty snow removal equipment.

The Fleetguard division of Cummins and Davco Technology have allied to supply specialized fuel filtration systems to the global marketplace.

IdleAire announced the one millionth hour of use of its Advanced Travel Center Electrification (ATE) system.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company said Pilot Travel Centers will begin stocking and selling Goodyear truck tires. Pilot operates 260 travel centers nationwide.

Last fall, we reported on a demonstration of Bendix’s Electronic Stability Program, which is due for release early in 2005 (see “Technically speaking, CCJ, September 2003). The focus of the demo was to show how the system intervenes to help prevent rollovers on high-coefficient-of-friction surfaces. But that’s only half the story, and Bendix recently hosted a handful of journalists in snow and ice-covered Houghton, Mich., to provide firsthand experience with the system’s capabilities on slick surfaces.

Much like high-end passenger car systems, ESP reduces engine power and applies brakes at individual wheel ends to restore stability to a truck or combination vehicle that’s losing control.

The ESP package is built entirely on Bendix’s ABS platform and does not involve electronically controlled braking (ECBS, EBS or brake-by-wire). Additional components are added to the ABS, such as yaw and steering-angle sensors, but the system retains familiar components and service procedures, according to Richard Beyer, manager, technical sales. “It provides all the benefits of ECBS – except for the slight improvement in service-brake response time, and friction material wear control – with less cost and complexity,” Beyer says.

On ice, even giving a truck full throttle while making insane, wildly extreme maneuvers, ESP felt like the hand of God grabbing the vehicle and keeping it from disaster. Given enough speed and enough steering input, says Beyer, the laws of physics will eventually outmuscle ESP But, coupled with prudent driving, the system can identify and react to certain situations faster than a human can, providing a substantial safety margin.

International to launch telematics in daycabs
International Truck and Engine Co. is entering into the telematics field to offer customers a peak into the performance of their medium- and heavy-duty trucks even when those trucks are miles away from the shop.

The new business service, which will combine remote vehicle monitoring, performance diagnostics and security elements, will be available in June, the company announced at the Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting last month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Jeff Bannister, director of truck electronics for International, says the initial service is designed for regional daycabs in various applications from pickup and delivery to utility services.

Customers will be able track location, monitor performance, diagnose maintenance issues and ensure driver and vehicle security. The system will rely on a built-in cellular modem and the company’s Diamond Logic electrical system, which can monitor a truck’s motor as well as other moving parts including auxiliary power sources like a cherry picker or power takeoff. The telematics services will work on trucks that currently use that electrical system and will be adaptable to other truck makes and models. “We know our customers have more than just International trucks,” Bannister says.

Since telematics service retrieve truck performance data only by cell systems, Bannister says the company expects most of its initial customers to be within a certain radius of urban areas to take advantage of cellular coverage.

International partnered with IBM, which is providing back-end hardware and software and developing the website for the product.

The effort is part of the company’s $15 billion growth strategy for the truck and engine maker. The truck’s onboard computer and software will organize and store truck and engine data and transmits it to International. The company’s telematics software will organize and package the information. Customers can access the data in several ways, including through a website.

On the mapping side, the service can locate vehicles on highways or streets, giving fleet owners, maintainers and managers knowledge of where units are at any given time. The system can also set up geofencing, assist with stolen vehicle recovery, optimize routes, and it records time, location and duration of vehicle stops. The telematics service will also manage fuel tax reporting and it generates data for bookkeeping and administration. The system will also generate operation reports, recording idle time, for example.

One big, bad service truck
Imagine a service truck that’s set up to allow technicians to perform engine, transmission, rear axle, air conditioning and electrical repairs as well as computerized diagnostics.

Maurice Lacombe, director of operations at Edmonton Kenworth, Alberta, doesn’t have to imagine – the dealership actually has such a beast in the form of a highly customized KW T300.

“With this vehicle, we can do almost any repair we do in our maintenance shop, including welding” says Lacombe. “It’s a full functioning service shop on wheels.”

The T300, which Lacombe designed, is outfitted with a 14-foot aluminum body made up of two parts: an 8 x 8 x 5-foot compartment located at the rear; and a forward box that’s 6 feet long and 86 inches high. The forward compartment is heated and tall enough for a technician to stand at a workbench. The truck is also equipped with a 3,500-pound-capacity crane, a welding outfit, a computer, parts inventory and maintenance manuals.

Lacombe says the truck is called out frequently, with one technician responding to emergency calls day and night. In addition to providing emergency roadside service, “our goal is to put the truck on a schedule to do maintenance work at customer sites, so they don’t have to take the time to come to our facility,” he says. He added that he plans to have the service truck staffed around the clock with three technicians working alternating shifts.

Sometimes you’re wired… sometimes you’re not
Noregon Systems has introduced the new Noregon Data Link Adapter (DLA) kit for Freightliner product service applications. By providing a simplified link between vehicle components and Windows-based PCs, the DLA gives truck technicians the ability to perform extensive vehicle analysis and diagnostics.

Meanwhile, Nexiq Technologies has announced an agreement with International Truck and Engine Corp. to supply International dealers with the International EZ-Tech Link as their premium vehicle communication device. Nexiq says it’s the first such product to use a wireless connection to retrieve vehicle diagnostic information.

The dash of the future?
Curtis Instruments, Mount Kisco, N.Y., has developed a fully customizable, microprocessor-based instrument panel. The enGage IV can be easily programmed to monitor, display and control numerous vehicle functions in a single integrated package for unprecedented flexibility and advanced functionality, Curtis says.

The new panel allows OEMs to design their own instruments to meet their specific applications. One hardware set can be instantly programmed into a wide range of OEM-specified instrumentation for use in a variety of different vehicles.
A large, backlit dot matrix LCD reportedly provides excellent viewing under all lighting conditions, and the readout can be a variety of styles, including numeric, bar or simulated needle.

Up to six switched inputs are available to track status of critical vehicle parameters, such as coolant temperature, parking brake, fuel, etc. Displays can include multiple warning icons and an advisory line for hour meters, maintenance monitors and a clock. In addition, CAN communication allows interconnectivity with other system components and can convey diagnostic information, while eliminating unnecessary wiring.

Dana: Demand up for tire maintenance systems
Dana says demand for tire maintenance and monitoring systems, which track and adjust the air pressure in trailer or tractor tires, is on the rise and it’s ramping up production to meet that demand.

“Interest has grown significantly,” says Jim Beverly, chief engineer for Dana’s Advanced Chassis Control Systems. The company, which announced its move at the Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will increase production in the third quarter of 2004 of its Dana Spicer Tire Maintenance System for trailer applications.

Carriers are interested in such systems because properly inflated tires improve fuel economy, tread life, retread performance and overall vehicle productivity, Beverly says. The increase in the price of diesel is a driving factor.

The system’s design is based on the company’s Central Tire Inflation System, which can inflate or deflate tires to improve traction and has been the darling of military and off-road fleets for years.

TMS, which only inflates, features an electronic control unit that is robust but simple in operation. In addition there is no scheduled maintenance on the equipment, and it features an auto-learn option that provides users with the ability to set or change the desired tire pressure target without the need for any special tools. The systems are warranted for three years and unlimited mileage.