Fontaine Fifth Wheel
Ffw Sc Tractor Trailer 652fc890e571a

Fontaine introduces first fifth wheel 'with a brain'

Oct. 18, 2023
When integrated with the truck OEM’s CAN and telematics, SmartConnect will seamlessly transmit lock status, hours of use, number of couples, and maintenance alerts to fleet managers.

AUSTIN, Texas—Fontaine Fifth Wheel unveiled its new SmartConnect fifth wheel at American Trucking Associations' Management Conference & Exhibition here this week, promoting it as “a fifth wheel with a brain.”

“Basically, we’re taking the guesswork out of fifth wheel maintenance and automating it,” Shane Wolfe, director of engineering, explained to FleetOwner in the company’s booth.

Similar to other fifth wheels, the SmartConnect system includes an indicator light that notifies the driver of the fifth wheel’s locking status. But what sets SmartConnect apart are its predictive maintenance capabilities, Wolfe explained: Not only do sensors monitor the fifth wheel lock position, the system also collects and processes data related to hardware components’ positioning, wear, and need for adjustment.

 “It can accurately anticipate maintenance needs before problems surface,” Wolfe said.

LED flash codes then provide drivers with advance notice that fifth wheel service is required at the next maintenance interval. Hardwired connections not only simplify the installation of an optional in-cab indicator light but also provide fleets the flexibility to expand SmartConnect functionality as more features become available. Currently under development are kingpin and top plate sensors to collect vibration data, again the automate and anticipate maintenance, Wolfe noted.

See also: More from ATA MC&E 2023

The system is CAN bus capable right out of the box, using the SAE J1939 communications protocol. When integrated with the truck OEM’s CAN and telematics, SmartConnect will seamlessly transmit lock status, hours of use, number of couples, and maintenance alerts to fleet managers.

The bottom line is that SmartConnect will extend the life of the fifth wheel while also providing the cost and safety benefits of reduced hardware failures and dropped trailers, Wolfe explained.

“We’re genuinely excited about this product,” said Paige Petroni, company president. “SmartConnect is the world’s first smart fifth wheel, and I’m incredibly proud of our engineering and management teams for their remarkable accomplishments. This innovation can significantly assist fleets in lowering maintenance costs while elevating operational efficiency.”

Fontaine Fifth Wheel SmartConnect will be available in 2024.

About the Author

Kevin Jones | Editor

Kevin has served as editor-in-chief of Trailer/Body Builders magazine since 2017—just the third editor in the magazine’s 60 years. He is also editorial director for Endeavor Business Media’s Commercial Vehicle group, which includes FleetOwner, Bulk Transporter, Refrigerated Transporter, American Trucker, and Fleet Maintenance magazines and websites.

Working from Little Rock, Kevin has covered trucking and manufacturing for 15 years. His writing and commentary about the trucking industry and, previously, business and government, has been recognized with numerous state, regional, and national journalism awards.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Leveraging telematics to get the most from insurance

Fleet owners are quickly adopting telematics as part of their risk mitigation strategy. Here’s why.

Reliable EV Charging Solution for Last-Mile Delivery Fleets

Selecting the right EV charging infrastructure and the right partner to best solve your needs are critical. Learn which solution PepsiCo is choosing to power their fleet and help...

Overcoming Common Roadblocks Associated with Fleet Electrification at Scale

Fleets in the United States, are increasingly transitioning from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. While this shift presents challenges, there are strategies...

Report: The 2024 State of Heavy-Duty Repair

From capitalizing on the latest revenue trends to implementing strategic financial planning—this report serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and opportunities of ...