Partnership aims to improve truck, bus safety

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Brake problems on trucks and buses could be spotted and fixed sooner with a radio frequency identification (RFID) inspection system being developed by Zonar Systems and Spectra Inc., the companies announced Tuesday, March 7. Zonar says it is partnering with Spectra of Toronto to co-develop the RFID-enabled brake diagnostics system. Based on Spectra’s brake sensor technology, the product leverages the company’s experience with heavy-duty brakes and Zonar’s RFID-verified visual inspection system.

“Brake problems on trucks and buses are a safety concern, plus a huge maintenance and cost issue for operators,” says Mike McQuade, director of research and development for Seattle-based Zonar. “Our existing inspection product is proven on fleets, and adding this new sensor technology will revolutionize the way brakes are checked. Soon, drivers will be able to check the brakes daily with a simple push-button test.”

The Zonar/Spectra inspection system will work on all air brake-equipped trucks, buses, trailers and container chassis, and is simple for drivers to use during federally required pre- and post-trip safety inspections, says Andrew J. Malion, Spectra chairman. “It will save time, money and aggravation for both drivers and large fleet operators alike,” Malion says. “We are thrilled to be a part of what will be a quantum leap forward in how big trucks and buses are inspected and maintained. I predict that electronic vehicle inspection will be welcomed with open arms by the commercial trucking industry because it will impact safety and revenues dramatically.”

The Zonar inspection system uses electronic sensors mounted at key locations on each truck or bus. The driver uses a handheld electronic monitor to “check in” and inspect each sensor position, entering into the system any safety or maintenance concerns. Information then is electronically transferred instantly to a central database to provide immediate problem alerts and a permanent record that the checks were performed, according to the company. “It also eliminates the considerable paperwork burden of manual inspection and reporting, and is more reliable,” McQuade says.

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