“Trucks stop” have become more than a restaurant/gas station along the nation’s busy highways.
Okay, that’s a pretty bad introduction to a story about 18-wheeler brake technology, but the subject of technical advances in the freight and commodity transportation industry made for a very interesting special program at the Gilmer Rotary Club Tuesday.
The “truck technology” subject, introduced by David Stevenson of Custom Commodities Transport of Gilmer, also drew several Department of Public SafetyTroopers to the weekly luncheon meeting at the Gilmer Civic Center, and brought in faculty and staff members from the Carroll Shelby Automotive Technology Program at Northeast Texas Community College.
Hosted by Stevenson, the program was conducted by executives of Peterbilt Motors Company and Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC.
Bendix has developed ESP (Electronic Stability Program) for the big rigs, an “intelligent system” in which a computer intervenes to apply the brakes of the truck and trailer to help mitigate a rollover or loss-of-control situation, such as a jackknife.
Another technology developed by Bendix is Wingman Advanced, a radar-based product that is designed to assist in the event of a near rear- end collision by automatically applying the brakes and thus avoiding a collision and/or taking energy out of a collision.
While the driver is always in control of the vehicle, both of these systems act independently of the driver, and if for some reason the driver fails to take appropriate action the systems will intervene.
Both systems react much faster than a driver could. Waller did clarify that even with these systems, truck drivers should still continue to drive prudently and that “physics is still king.”
These systems will not stop all rollovers, loss-of-control situations or rear end collisions, but they will stop many of them and in all cases will slow the vehicle down.
Toby Malone, Midwest Regional Manager for Peterbilt, gave a brief history of the truck manufacturer, which was created when the founder could not find a heavy-duty vehicle suitable for his needs in his work as a lumberman, and decided to make his own.
He bought a truck plant and modified its products to meet his needs. Others began asking him to sell his products, and in 1939, 14 trucks were purchased by other truckers.
From there, it grew into the trucking giant it is today.
A Peterbilt “tractor” with cab was moved into the Civic Center to display during the meeting.
It was the first time such a large exhibit was placed inside the building, and it is a story unto itself about how that was accomplished. (See separate story.)
Stevenson said that “you couldn’t have gotten a cigarette paper between the top of the cab and the door frame where they brought it through.”
Malone introduced Steve Waller, a Gilmer resident who is an account executive for Bendix.
Using a multi-media presentation, including PowerPoint and video, Waller explained how the Bendix ESP product works, and demonstrated filmed actual tests on icy terrain and dry pavement. A video showing a rear end collision by a truck without Wingman Advanced was also shown and Waller explained how the Wingman Advanced product would have assisted in that situation had by taking energy out of the collision.
The presentation and videos on the air disc-brake product showed how the disc brakes stop a truck and trailer quicker than the older/traditional and less-efficient drum brakes.
The videos showed how the Bendix disc brake system can stop a tractor-trailer rig up to 65 feet faster at 60 miles per hour than a conventional drum brake system and how the stopping power of disc brakes is even greater at higher speeds.
Hot-brake performance is also enhanced. Normally, as drum brakes heat up, such as coming down hills or a steep mountain grade, braking efficiency is lost proportionately. However, as a disc brake heats up there is little to no loss of braking power.
The presentation was well-received, with many of the Rotarians and guests hanging around to ask questions or “test” the cab which had been brought in.