Automatic Trailer Couplings?

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Another week, and it’s another new gadget for the trucking industry, but will Australia ever use automatic trailer couplings? This video sees our colleagues at Commercial Motor in the UK have a look at the latest release from Jost in this space.

It has been one of those constant issues for the trucking industry all over the world. However, the resilience and safety of trailer couplings is especially problematic in Australia, with our multi-trailer combinations and abominable roads.

At the same time a time consuming and dangerous part of the truck driver’s life is picking up and dropping trailers. The whole business of climbing up onto the back of the prime mover and struggling with tangled suzies, as well as ancient electrical connections has its issues.

Opening and closing the jaws on the fifth wheel can be difficult to judge and if you get it wrong it is disastrous. That area under the trailer is difficult to see, difficult to get to and dirty. 

Then the winding up and down of the landing legs can also be problematic. There are electric trailer legs, but the vast majority are still the same design as they were100 years ago.

The complex ritual around dropping or picking up a trailer has a lot of individual actions involved, but if just one of them is not done correctly it could be a disaster. The fifth wheel jaws aren’t quite closed, the air taps are still turned off, the electrical connection is loose, or the legs aren’t up high enough. The driver forgets to disconnect the suzies before driving off, the list goes on…

This latest new gadget from Jost is one of a number of new ideas which have appeared over the years to solve the time and difficulty issues. They arrive with a lot of fanfare and some try them and they have limited success.

Because the coupling process is so complex, on these automatic systems every thing has to work correctly, every box has to be ticked. The whole process will be dependant on a wide range of sensors checking that each element of the process is correct and safe.

We shall wait and see how this latest entrant fares. If it does succeed in Europe, you can be sure it will make it here in a couple of years.

automatic trailer couplings?

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