Hold the rolls, please

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At the risk of sounding like a broken record (for those of you who remember those days), let me reiterate: With today’s technology, there’s almost no reason for a tractor-trailer to roll over. Yeah, there might be occasions where a rig hits a high curb or goes off the road into a ditch, in which cases, no degree or amount of technology can bail them out.

But where rollovers are caused by extreme maneuvers, unintentional or for accident avoidance, there are systems that can come to the rescue. Now there’s a new trailer rollover-avoidance system from Meritor WABCO, due out early next year. The Roll Stability Support trailer system, or RSSplus, is a 2-modulator (2M) roll-mitigation system with side-by-side wheel-end control.

Unlike Meritor WABCO’s existing system, which relies partly on electronic braking system (EBS) technology, the new system will rely totally on antilock braking (ABS) technology and yaw sensing for simplicity’s sake. The system senses wheel speed and yaw motion (instability), then selectively applies brakes to correct the situation.

Ron Szapacs, maintenance specialist for Allentown, Pa.-based Air Products & Chemicals, has reviewed the new system and plans to test it when available. It’s especially important to Szapacs, since APC operates high-center-of-gravity bulk-type trailers, which are especially susceptible to rollovers.

“We don’t outfit all of our equipment with new products until we’ve tested a few examples for at least a year,” he says. “This one looks like it has the potential to reduce rollovers, especially where independent contractors are operating our equipment. I think it will offer a fast return on investment.”

The system also helps prevent tire flat spotting and abnormal tire wear, and offers simplified installation and advanced communication capabilities through an onboard data recording unit with event broadcasting capability via power-line carrier communications or telematic devices.

The RSSplus electronic control unit can communicate between the tractor and trailer, including suspension weight, tire pressure, wheel-end temperatures or other customer-specific data.

Configurations include 2S/2M (2 sensors, 2 modulators) 4S/2M (4 sensors, 2 modulators) and 4S/2M +1 (4S/3M, 4 sensors, 3 modulators).

Perhaps best of all, RSSplus is backward-compatible with existing trailers, and can be retrofitted for somewhere south of $1,500, as long as the trailer has ABS.

This is the first retrofittable system of its type that we know of, and we’ll look forward to reporting on its accomplishments.