Collision warning system adds smart cruise control

A new generation of the Eaton VORAD radar-based collision warning system includes an optional adaptive cruise-control feature that can automatically slow down or speed up a truck based on traffic conditions. The Eaton VORAD EVT-300 collision warning system with SmartCruise also features a new radar design, more effective side sensors for monitoring a truck's blind side, and the ability to track vehicles

A new generation of the Eaton VORAD radar-based collision warning system includes an optional adaptive cruise-control feature that can automatically slow down or speed up a truck based on traffic conditions. The Eaton VORAD EVT-300 collision warning system with SmartCruise also features a new radar design, more effective side sensors for monitoring a truck's blind side, and the ability to track vehicles around curves.

The basic system provides drivers with visual and audio warnings if they are closing in too rapidly on either a moving or stationary object. The warnings can give drivers up to three extra seconds to respond, even if visibility is impaired by rain, fog, or darkness. The EVT-300's new monopulse radar design produces a wider beam than the fixed radar system used in earlier versions of the Eaton VORAD CWS, allowing it to track vehicles traveling in adjacent lanes. The system's software, however, will only report on vehicles in the truck's lane of travel. A new yaw sensor also helps the system "shape" the radar zone around curves to reduce false alerts.

Optional side, or blindside, sensors have also been redesigned to generate fewer false alerts from stationary objects such as guardrails, as well as provide better performance in heavy rain.

The EVT-300's optional SmartCruise is the first adaptive cruise control offered for trucks or passenger cars. Once a driver sets the cruise control, the syste m will not only attempt to maintain that speed, but will also maintain a set headway with vehicles in front of the truck. Automatically controlling the engine's fuel system and retarder, the adaptive cruise control will slow down and speed up in response to traffic conditions. The driver can override the system at any time.

The SmartCruise option is currently available for Detroit Diesel DDEC IV Series 60 engines and will soon be offered for Cummins CELECT PLUS N-14 and M-11 engines. Work is also under way to adapt the system for Caterpillar and Mack engines. It can be ordered only as an original equipment option, although a retrofit version of EVT-300 without SmartCruise will also be available on the aftermarket.

Other options for the EVT-300 include a vehicle information management system that monitors and records operating data and a satellite interface for sending exception-based reports based on that collected data. An accident reconstruction option is also available.

Having eliminated clutch adjustments with its original model, a new generation of Eaton Spicer Solo clutches requires no lubrication, making it truly maintenance-free. The new family of angle-spring pull-type clutches will be offered in 14-in. medium-duty and 15.5-in. heavy-duty models.

Heavy-duty models, which will be available by the end of the year, will be offered with torque capacities up to 2,050 lb.-ft. Maintenance-free medium-duty models are already available in single-plate versions with torque capacities up to 605 lb.-ft. and two-plate versions rated up to 1,050 lb.-ft.

Earlier this year, Eaton Corp. acquired the Spicer clutch business from Dana Corp., while Dana bought Eaton's axle and brake operations. Now the two companies have unveiled a joint Roadranger System of heavy-truck components that extends from the clutch back through the drivetrain and out to the brakes and wheel ends. Whether Eaton or Dana products, all of the heavy-duty truck components in the system will now be sold and serviced through Eaton under its Roadranger field sales and service organization. The Roadranger System includes: Eaton Spicer clutches; Eaton Fuller transmissions; Spicer Eaton steer, drive, and trailer axles; Spicer Eaton brakes and wheel ends; Eaton ABS; and Spicer driveshafts and universal joints.

In a big step forward for "smart vehicle" diagnostics, WPI Micro Processor Systems Inc. (MPSI) is moving toward making it possible to troubleshoot vehicle problems remotely using various communications technologies.

During a technology seminar at the company's Sterling Heights, Mich., headquarters last month, MPSI demonstrated its KeyAdvisor and Vehicle Data Systems (VDS) programs. This software duo provides "expert" system assistance on electronic and nonelectronic vehicle components using real-time vehicle data -- data that can be broadcast from remote locations to the shop via the Internet.

Using KeyAdvisor/VDS, a technician out in the field needing assistance with a truck that is down can initiate a diagnostic session back at the shop by sending vehicle data through the Internet. He is guided through the diagnostic process with "live" vehicle data, and his progress can be viewed and analyzed at the shop.

This is especially important for fleets doing their own service and maintenance because it allows a senior technician to stay in the shop and help less experienced technicians in the field. It also provides the field technician with remote access to shop information.

When techs use KeyAdvisor/VDS to go through a diagnostic session, it records everything they do, synchronized with everything that comes off the vehicle data stream. This "audit trail" allows reports to be generated about what's been done with that particular vehicle.

Fleets also have access to "advice" outside the shop. For example, when a tech doesn't get the desired results, thesession can be sent to the OEM for analysis. Another advantage to KeyAdvisor/ VDS is its browser-based user interface, which provides a consistent interface to the technician, regardless of the manufacturer or system being diagnosed.

While a remote diagnostics product is not here yet, it's not sitting out there in the distant future, either. Watch for such a product to be coming soon from MPSI.

The TBT1000 can perform a quick, accurate analysis of brake system efficiency just by taking a thermal reading from wheel lug nuts, according to Nu-Tech Industries, a subsidiary of Snap-On Inc. Temperature readings are taken with a portable handset, which is placed in a base unit to download the data. The base unit processes the information and prints out an axle-by-axle report on brake condition.

Grote Industries has introduced a new bulb-mounting system designed to help improve bulb life by combating premature failure. Dubbed the Torsion Mount III, the system is featured in the company's line of Ultra Seal 60 Series oval stop/tail/turn lamps.

Torsion Mount III imbeds the bulb in a protective polymer gel material that cushions the bulb from filament failures caused by high-impact shocks. Wiring, bulb, and cradle components are combined into a single integrated circuit, further eliminating the likelihood of wiring or soldered connection failures. Moreover, having the bulb tightly sealed in the gel assures protection from extreme temperatures and corrosion.

The Ultra Seal 60 Series lights are available in red, clear, and amber lenses, with both horizontal and vertical mounting. Grommet and theft-resistant designs are offered, as are midturn lamps.

According to the Spicer Trailer Products Div. of Dana Corp., new XtraLife II trailer brakes are available in two extra-wide sizes: 16.5x8 in. and 16.5x 8.625 in.

The manufacturer says these wider sizes, compared to standard 16.5x7-in. linings, provide better heat dissipation for cooler-running brakes. As a result, says Spicer, the brakes will require fewer relines.

The company also says that since the XtraLife II design allows the brakes to run cooler, more reliable braking is provided, especially under severe braking conditions, versus brakes with standard 7-in. linings.

Suspensions, axles, and brakes introduced

In a sweeping product preview, Hendrickson unveiled a new generation of integrated air suspensions and a new trailer brake.

Hendrickson Trailer Suspension Systems announced that VanTraax 180, the latest generation of integrated air suspension, axle, brake, and slider systems, is rolling off the assembly line. Rated up to 40,000 lb., the HKA180 weighs in at 1,640 lb., shaving 145 lb. off other sliders in its class.

The HKA180 also features a Tri-Functional III Bushing made of a modified rubber compound and shaped to enable Hendrickson to trim weight without affecting durability or the suspension's ability to absorb force.

The company also unveiled the next generation of SureLok. Redesigned to cut 25 lb. of weight and reduce the number of working parts to improve servicing, SureLok holds trailers with air suspensions at dock height to make loading safer and more efficient.

When the trailer parking brakes are set, SureLok's two support arms rotate into place between the trailer subframe and suspension beams, thereby locking the trailer. A visual chock ensures the system is engaged.

Another new Hendrickson offering is a height control valve for trailer air-ride suspensions. Larger fill ports provide the highest fill rate for quick "air up," allowing for maximum air suspension in a shorter time. This helps reduce demand on the tractor air compressor, improving compressor and air dryer life while lowering fuel costs.

Hendrickson Auxiliary Axle Systems unveiled the HLUS steerable lift axle. Rated at 13,200 lb., the HLUS weighs in at 970 lb. with standard hubs and drums, a weight savings of 60 lb. over previous models.

Its compact, parallelogram design is suited for vocational fleets that require additional axles to comply with federal bridge laws or that need extra payload capacity.

Hendrickson has also developed a new front-axle air suspension system for commercial and school buses. The new offering replaces the transverse torque rod with a transverse leaf that resists lateral axle movement and increases the roll stiffness of the chassis.

Hendrickson's Vehicle Control Systems division also announced a way to increase the J560 connector capacity by providing up to eight additional circuits without changing the existing connector or adding proprietary software. The change allows in-cab control and monitoring of trailer suspension.

Because the blue No. 7 circuit is now dedicated to antilock brakes, Hendrickson teamed with Air-Weigh to produce Control Link, a multiplexing module that initially provides a minimum of four additional circuits to and from the tractor and trailer.

The four circuits from the tractor can be used to control features such as interior dome lights, backup lights, lift axles, or suspension dump valves. The trailer module can be used for temperature control and monitoring, door alarms, liftgate status, and the like. It also provides a means of displaying the mandated in-cab ABS warning light.

The technology coexists with J1708, J1587, and J1939 protocols.

Hendrickson also introduced a line of extended service trailer brakes featuring thicker linings, e-coated shoes, and improved supporting components. Standard width HXS brakes (16.5x7-in. shoes) feature 27% more lining; wide shoes (161/2 x 85/8 in.) offer 64% more lining material.

The brakes are said to operate with up to 1/2 in. less brake stroke at 90 psi than competitive systems, while delivering fast application and release cycles with lower air consumption -- critical in antilock applications.

Following Haldex Inc.'s recent acquisition of the brake component manufacturer Midland-Grau from Echlin Corp., the Swedish company announced that it has reorganized its North America heavy-duty brake activities.

Haldex Brake Systems Div. is now responsible for OEM and fleet sales of heavy-duty vehicle ABS, brake systems, and air brake components in North America. Chuck Kleinhage, formerly president of Haldex Brake Products Corp., is division manager of the new sales organization, which will have worldwide responsibility for the company's brake sales, training, and service operations. Annual sales are expected to be approximately $336 million.

Haldex Midland Service Div. will handle North American aftermarket sales and distribution activities, as well as the United Brake Systems brake shoe relining operations acquired along with Midland-Grau. Peter Joy, formerly president of Midland-Grau North America, is division manager. Annual sales are expected to be around $130 million.

Haldex also announced that the two divisions would continue to sell and service products under familiar trade names such as Midland, Midland-Grau, Lipe, Grey-Rock, and Maxibrake.

Diamond Advantage is a new parts and service purchase card specifically tailored to owner-operators and small- to medium-sized fleets, according to Steve Koch, vp-general manager for Navistar International Transportation Corp.'s Parts Business Center. "Diamond Advantage will provide owner-operators and fleets with up to 250 trucks with the same range of on-the-road support services currently enjoyed by larger fleets using Fleet Charge," he explained.

Cardholders receive guaranteed consistent and audited International and International "All Makes" parts pricing throughout the participating International dealer network, plus a one-year limited parts warranty with unlimited mileage for International parts. Labor is also covered by the warranty if the installation is done by an International dealer.

Diamond Advantage credit services include instant credit recognition at the more than 900 participating International dealer locations; biweekly billing statements; 20-day payment terms with the ability to pay by check or by electronic funds transfer; and no annual fees. Several optional programs are also available to enhance the basic plan, including an Emergency Breakdown Service, a Multi-Service Fleet Fuel Program, and the Open Road Drivers Plan -- a driver's legal assistance and travel-related services package.

The company is launching its new Diamond Advantage program with a contest. Anyone who enrolls between May 1 and October 31 will be automatically entered into a drawing to win one of ten trips to the Richard Petty Driving School, including travel and hotel accommodations.

In other Navistar news, the company recently opened its new truck assembly plant in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, a $167-million investment. The NGV (Next Generation Vehicle) initiative to completely redesign the product family is also scheduled to begin in 2001-2002.

An improved automatic slack adjuster (ASA) and a new drive-axle seal were among the heavy-truck component enhancements announced by Meritor Automotive.

The new ASA features a sealed actuator boot design said to significantly reduce accidental damage. Like the previous Meritor ASA designs it replaces, the slack adjustor is lightweight and easy to service, according to the company.

Also new is a fast 2.64 gear ratio for Meritor's RT-40-145 tandem drive axle. The new fuel-efficient ratio is intended for linehaul applications with up to 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque and maximum GCWs of 80,000 lb.

Meritor's 145, 160/161, and 185 drive-axle carriers now feature unitized carrier seals that eliminate the need for yoke replacement if the yoke journal area is worn or damaged.

The Roll-S-Rite, a redesigned brake roller, eliminates flat spots in severe-duty applications, according to Meritor. The Roll-S-Rite is currently available on the aftermarket and will be added to Meritor's production brakes over the next few months.

Brigadier International Corp. unveiled the Jackknife Blocking System, which uses a specially outfitted fifth wheel to prevent jackknifes. When a small computer senses vehicle speed has accelerated to 15 mph, the arm on the fifth wheel automatically raises to an extended position. When the tractor begins to jackknife beyond 19 degrees, the extended arm butts against the solid metal blocks mounted under the front of the trailer. The arm retracts when the tractor decelerates to 10 mph.

RAMI has introduced a multi-band antenna designed to maximize the clarity and flexibility of a truck's multiple communications functions. This is accomplished by combining several frequency bands into a single antenna, thus eliminating the need for multiple antennas and the cabling needed to support them.

Shell Fleet Services and Squarerigger Corp. announced the formation of a joint product development and marketing alliance. Initially, Shell Fleet Services will market Squarerigger's new Windows-based vehicle maintenance software system, Vehicle Tracker: The Next Generation, along with its fuel and maintenance offerings. Later versions of Vehicle Tracker will be integrated with Shell Fleet Services' billing and data warehousing systems. Beginning as early as the fourth quarter of this year, Squarerigger plans to offer voice recognition as an option with Vehicle Tracker for Windows.

Training Express, a multimedia safety training system for truck drivers, will be marketed and sold by the Driver Training and Development Alliance (DTDA), according to its developer, Vortex Interactive. The system uses interactive video, animation, and graphics to deliver self-paced safety training based on DOT guidelines.

Comdata Corp., the Truckload Carriers Assn., and Feed the Children are sponsoring the first annual "18 Wheels of Hope" food drive September 10-11. The goal: a convoy of 500 trucks headed to Nashville, all loaded with food.

We are extremely pleased with the results of WireLink's beta test," Peter Powell, Air-Weigh's vp-marketing, announced at ITS. "It is available now to fleets and owner-operators that need to regain access to auxiliary electrical switching capabilities that were lost when the March 1, 1998, trailer ABS full-time power requirement took effect."

His announcement followed a three-month WireLink test period, which included on-vehicle installations with five fleets in the Pacific Northwest. Powell says the company's multiplexing system met or exceeded all requirements for on-board electronics equipment established by SAE, including radiated emissions, RFI susceptibility, electrostatic discharge, saltwater submersion, temperature testing, and chemical exposure.

More than 98% of the WireLink's test transmissions (over the existing blue wire auxiliary circuit of legacy triple-trailer combinations) were successfully completed on the first attempt, according to Powell. When an error did occur, the system automatically retransmitted the correct information within 200 milliseconds of the original transmission.

Each of the five test fleets, including United States Bakery, Rexius Forest By-Products Inc., Interstate Wood Products, Green Line Enterprises, and Pacific Crest Lumber, used WireLink in different tractor-trailer configurations and to perform different tasks.

Air-Weigh entered an agreement in January with Hendrickson Suspension Systems, making Hendrickson the exclusive marketer of the basic Air-Weigh multiplexing technology to U.S. and Canadian tractor and trailer manufacturers and their authorized dealers. The Hendrickson product is called Control Link. It is fully compatible and uses the same communication protocol as Air-Weigh's WireLink.

American Isuzu Motors Inc. may expand its North American truck offerings "both below and above" its current Class 3-7 cabover model lineup, according to newly named president Yasuyuki Sudo.

Speaking at ITS, Sudo said that continued growth in urban goods distribution should also bring improved North American market opportunities for Isuzu's current line of low-cab-forward trucks.

Isuzu, which sells trucks through General Motors, as well as through its own dealership network, currently has a 67% share of the Class 3 through 7 import market, Sudo said. "This year we expect to sell over 20,000 commercial vehicles," he said.

The company has also begun work on a replacement for its N-Series, which "will arrive shortly after the turn of the century," Sudo said. Redesigned only three years ago, the current midrange N-Series has just been expanded with the introduction of the Class 5 NQR.

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