The Compliance, Safety, Accountability program has spurred fleets to adopt a variety of new technologies to eliminate violations and improve their safety scores. Electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) and electronic vehicle inspection systems are among the most popular.
With all the choices in computers and software technology to collect, manage and disseminate CSA information, it might be easy to overlook how mechanical systems can round out your efforts to improve CSA performance.
Trailer maintenance is a prime example. With drivers hooking up to one or more trailers each day, how many really take the time to do a thorough walk around inspection? Will they notice any lights that are inoperable or a worn brake pad before the DOT inspection officer does?
Trailers are an easy target. An officer might decide to pull over a vehicle for an inspection on the basis of a missing tail light. In fact, inoperative lights are the most frequently occurring CSA violation in the Vehicle Maintenance category, or BASIC. They comprise 28 percent of all violations. Brakes come in a close second at 21 percent.
Innovative Products of America (IPA) manufactures the Super MUTT product line of portable, remote-controlled diagnostic trailer testers. MUTT, which stands for mobile unit trailer tester, taps into the trailer’s electrical connector and airlines to detect any problems with the electrical lighting, ABS and air brake systems on commercial type trailers.
These portable devices can be found in many maintenance facilities, including those of Penske and Ryder, to increase the speed and effectiveness of trailer inspections, says Dan Engelsen, national sales manager for IPA. With the Super MUTT, a full and complete trailer inspection can be done in 15 minutes.
Using the remote control feature, technicians are able to engage and disengage a trailer’s braking system without using the tractor’s air supply. This enables them to engage the braking system while looking directly at the brake chamber to measure the adjustment. The tool also checks for air leaks in the system, he says.
The Super MUTT can also be used to quickly diagnose electrical problems with the trailer such as an open circuit, cross-wired circuit, a cut wire, and other problems that are otherwise not visible.
While the tool does not capture or disseminate information like a software program, it can detect future violations long before they surface in CSA. With a quick diagnosis, fleets can also speed repair time and increase asset utilization.