Sub-zero brakes

June 1, 2007
Manager: Shannon Tracey Title: Fleet Coordinator Fleet: 1-800-Got-Junk?, Vancouver, BC Operation: Coordinate truck design and options for franchisees PROBLEM Stop-and-go operation is hell on truck brakes, and no one knows that better than Shannon Tracey

Manager: Shannon Tracey

Title: Fleet Coordinator

Fleet: 1-800-Got-Junk?, Vancouver, BC

Operation: Coordinate truck design and options for franchisees

PROBLEM

Stop-and-go operation is hell on truck brakes, and no one knows that better than Shannon Tracey. A self-professed “gear head” who started working on cars and trucks at age 13, Tracey spent years working at various body shops and automotive parts firms before joining 1-800-Got-Junk?'s corporate fleet management team.

Part of her job is to think “out of the box” to find ways to help franchisees reduce maintenance on vehicles, including the brakes.

“Not only are you looking for ways to reduce brake maintenance and boost longevity, there's a safety component as well; better braking power and performance improves highway safety,” Tracey points out.

“We've borrowed a lot of the safety policies of long-haul carriers, such as making sure our drivers conduct walk-around pre-trip inspections,” she says. “We're trying to look broadly at the trucking and automotive worlds to see if there are things we can use to lower cost and boost vehicle uptime, while making sure safety isn't compromised.”

SOLUTION

An idea for improving the fleet's medium-duty brakes came from Franchisee Tony Samson, St. Paul, MN. An amateur car club racer, he tried out cryogenically treated brake rotors from a company called Diversified Cryogenics on his BMW E30 M3 and found they not only improved his car's handling and performance, but also helped increase brake-pad life.

A chance conversation with one of the company's technicians revealed they were trying to sell their product to the U.S. Army for use on its Hummers. That led Samson to ask whether the large rotors might work on his medium-duty tucks.

He figured that if he could push out brake pad replacement from 40,000-50,000 miles to 100,000 miles, he'd save a lot of money and vehicle downtime, at only a nominally higher price.

Samson contacted Tracey, who agreed to look into the process. She found that “freezing” the brake rotor using extreme cold actually changed the structure of the metal, making it stronger and longer lasting. In addition, it results in less heat buildup over repeated activation, thus reducing brake “fade” and improving braking performance.

“The rotors are cryogenically treated to be 100% to 200 % stronger than OEM rotors at roughly the same price,” she says.

“Here's where thinking outside the box comes in,” Tracey points out. “If a rotor is built to take high heat and tough strains of racing, then it should also translate over to hard braking with a fully loaded truck.”

Tracey quickly lined up Got Junk's franchisee in Chicago to test the cryogenically treated rotors for several months.

“If these brakes do what they are expected to do, there's a big savings potential here from reduced PM costs, greater longevity, and better performance,” Tracey says. “The big thing is reducing downtime; that means everything in this business. And little changes here and there can really make a big difference in terms of vehicle productivity.”

Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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