Brakes, Cables, Steel, Telematics and Autonomous Trucks

Brakes, Cables, Steel, Telematics and Autonomous Trucks

In the news this week for those interested in the technical side of trucking, from Diesel News, there are brakes, cables, telematics and autonomous trucks.


Brake chambers of the right standard are a critical part of an effective brake system, as set out in the Australian Trucking Association’s updated Technical Advisory Procedure on compliant brake chambers. The advisory procedure was developed by the ATA’s Industry Technical Council.


“The use of substandard brake chambers could create an unstable vehicle combination by mixing different brake chamber sizes and brands, negatively affecting the brake balance,” said Chris Loose, ATA Senior Engineering Adviser. “This technical advisory procedure was originally produced to counter a run of very premature brake chamber failures, and it is a timely reminder that use of the lowest cost item or a substandard part does not save costs if it then suffers a failure.”


The updated technical advisory procedure includes information on acceptable air brake chamber build standards, a brake chamber compliance table, and warnings against disassembling spring brake chambers.


Brakes, Cables, Steel, Telematics and Autonomous Trucks


Volvo Trucks is running a research project about replacing the cables in trucks with wireless sensors. The company reckons the result will be a dramatic reduction in the amount of copper and plastic used. Volvo estimates it should be able to dispense with around 5000 km of cabling, which is the equivalent of 18 tonnes of copper and 33 tonnes of plastic.


“We believe that wireless sensors have a great deal of future potential,” said Dhasarathy Parthasarathy, a development engineer at the Volvo Group. “One important consideration is that we may no longer need to use large amounts of copper and plastic, which is good for the environment.”


Depending on the size of the truck, a reduction in cable length of between 40 and 70 metres, has initially been identified. Given an annual production of 100,000 trucks, this amounts to around 5000 kilometres of cabling. As well as eliminating the need for large amounts of copper and plastic, the wireless sensors could bring significant benefits for the production department and the service workshops, particularly in terms of the time they can save.


“The savings could amount to a large number of hours, sometimes even days. In the factory, the cables are awkward to handle and time-consuming to fit in the right place,” said Jonas Hagerskans, a development engineer at the Volvo Group. “The wireless sensors are much simpler to install. The cables are also sensitive to dirt and rust and prone to faults. By replacing the cables with wireless sensors, it is possible to prevent all the potential cabling faults. When trucks come into the workshop for repairs, identifying faults in long cables that are difficult to access is very time-consuming.”


BlueScope Steel have partnered with Toll, K&S Transport and Buzinga App Development to develop a safety-focused app, ‘SteelDrive’. Launched in June, 2016 and now available to Android users, allows truck drivers to document the restraining and transportation of steel, through photo-taking, GPS-tracking, and cloud-based storage.


This method of documentation provides critical transparency in the unlikely case of an incident investigation, providing a point of reference for all stakeholders; including the manufacturer, transporter and importantly the driver themselves.


“Safety is everyone’s responsibility”, said Ben Scollary, IT Innovation Business Analyst at BlueScope. “We have an obligation to our employees, our partners and our communities to work safely each and every day. SteelDrive represents the first steps in enabling a collaborative, mobile approach to safety for our logistics operations, and BlueScope are proud to be leaders in this change.”


The National Transport Commission has released a discussion paper with national guidelines for automated vehicle trials, calling for input into the key elements needed to support automated vehicle trials.


Acting Chief Executive of the NTC Geoff Allan said on-road trials were an important step in ensuring that any automated system operates safely and efficiently in Australia.


“Developing a single and nationally-agreed set of guidelines would help promote Australia as a test bed for automated vehicles by providing consistent conditions for trials, while at the same time encouraging innovation,” said Geoff Allan, Acting CEO of the NTC. “The guidelines will also help support cross-border trials. By harmonising trial conditions and expectations across jurisdictions, governments can work with industry to further explore the potential economic, environmental and safety benefits of this technology.”


More information and an opportunity to provide feedback is on the NTC website.


Transport Certification Australia has reported the number of Telematics In-Vehicle Units (IVUs) already installed in heavy vehicles throughout Australia which satisfy TCA performance based requirements.has reached 30,480.


This represents a 22 per cent increase since the end of 2014. This increase is significant, given the percentage of truck fleets adopting telematics is trending at 5 to 6 per cent growth year on year according to ACA Research. TCA reckon the industry is clearly seeking assurance when making IVU purchasing decisions.


“There are a number of key features which distinguish these Telematics IVUs from others available in the marketplace, including the ability to meet functional and technical requirements relating t robustness, accuracy, reliability, tamper evidence, data storage and security,” said Chris Koniditsiotis, TCA CEO. “These same requirements are being demanded by industry stakeholders, who have become increasingly knowledgeable and focussed on making the right purchasing decisions, to cater for their business needs.”