Heavy duty braking specialist, Shane Prendergast, sees braking problems every day in his job and he just wants everyone to get with the program and use EBS properly.
The latest technological improvements in braking systems mean that Electronic Braking Systems have a really excellent performance, with correct braking in many situations, saving lives and vehicles. On the other side of the coin, these systems need to be maintained and used properly in order for the technology to do its job and improve safety.
National Transport Insurance have been running series of webinars giving experts, in various fields associated with the trucking industry, the opportunity to share their expertise with others in the industry. One such brake professional is Shane Prendergast, a technician at AirBrake Systems
20 years ago Shane returned, after a prolonged stint at truck driving, to working as a technician on trucks and has seen all of the new braking systems coming into play, making for much safer trucks on the road.
“It must be maintained to work and function, that’s a no-brainer,” said Shane. “We went through our organisation and retrained everybody working there, in all of the benefits of the EBS braking system. It is also important for the compliance of the teams to keep systems working.
“There was a training session that I did 18 months ago, where everyone was included, not only the mechanics, but the cleaners, the office girls, the owner of the business, plus the fleet and compliance managers. It was the most successful session I ever did.
“It turned from a two hour session to an eight hour full day event The compliance manager, when I showed her all of the benefits they had purchased with their trailers, she wrote the drivers’ handbook that day. The owner upgraded four more trailers to EBS and bought a two more new trailers on the back of that session.
“To my horror, that day the maintenance manager and the mechanics immediately grounded 21 trailers. Luckily, we got 20 of those trailers back on the road that afternoon.”
If there is something wrong on the trailer, the EBS will tell you. it is important to check the warning lights.
“Unfortunately those ABS lights on the dash are perfectly designed for a piece of black tape,” said Shane. “We can no longer throw tape over these lights. Getting those lights off can be simple, sometimes just replacing a fuse. A complete EBS system in a trailer can be replaced in an hour.”
European trucks have much more sophisticated screens highlighting fault on LCD screens. There is an algorithm in the system which knows when there is a socket fitted and functioning. The driver simply reconnects to turn off the warning. Failure to do this means the truck does not meet its ADR, with no functioning EBS and no stability control or load sensing.
“The most common thing I see in the field to make warnings come on is corrosion, dirt and water ingress,” said Shane. “One of the most common is screw pin plug connectors. I have replaced hundreds of these in the Sydney basin in the last five years.
“Screw connectors simply do not work, but I still have young mechanics trying to tell me they do work, but I beg to differ. In aircraft, marine and rail, you cannot use screw pin connectors, crimping is the only thing that I consider that works. Soft copper being held down with very hard stainless screw, and technically that should be retightened the following day, but that will never happen in most fleets. In most areas of Australia the screw pin connectors are more expensive than the crimping stuff that I use.”