Braking the mould
The Truck Test series wouldn’t be possible without the support of all those involved – including the individual component suppliers, such as WABCO, which is supplying GRW with trailer braking systems. GAVIN MYERS reports.
According to Enoch Silcock, MD of WABCO Automotive South Africa, around 40 percent of the braking systems supplied by the company go to original equipment manufacturers of trailers, meaning the company has a very good relationship with its industry counterparts. It is, therefore, supplying braking systems to GRW for the trailers being built for Truck Test 2015.
“We’ve dealt with GRW right from the beginning,” he says, explaining that WABCO has been participating in the South African market for more than 45 years. “We’ve always had a very good relationship. GRW’s customers look for high-spec, world-class brake systems, so we offer them the technology they’re looking for.”
In the case of the trailers being built for Truck Test 2015, Silcock explains that the company’s standard anti-lock braking system (ABS) drum brake system has been chosen for the task. “Only around ten percent of the market currently has disk brakes, so GRW has chosen the most widely used system, as these trailers are being built for benchmarking purposes. This is our base braking system. It meets South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and international standards for braking, aiding stability and shortening
stopping distances by preventing lock-ups.”
Currently, the law states that all new trucks and trailers have to be equipped with ABS.
The ABS does offer some very important benefits, even though it may not be the most sophisticated offering in WABCO’s portfolio (for that you’d have to look to the company’s configurable Electronic Braking System (EBS), which is rapidly gaining market share thanks to the slew of advanced safety adaptations it offers).
The ABS has been kept basic so that nothing can confuse a maintenance team, yet the solenoid technology used in the system gives faster braking response. One can run diagnostics on the system to check information such as the ABS function and system component integrity, but additional functions, such as a configurable input output (I/O) plug, have been removed.
“WABCO has actually designed this particular system around third-world markets, such as South Africa and Brazil. We’ve been running this technology locally for over a year now; overseas they’ve had it for over ten years. This system is tried and tested,” says Silcock.
As this is WABCO’s first association with the Truck Test series, Silcock is keen to use the opportunity to demonstrate the company’s involvement and interest in the event. A WABCO support team will run with the trucks to Komatipoort and back, and the company’s Middleburg and Nelspruit distributors will also be on standby if needed. “Ultimately there’s GRW’s backup as well, but I’m confident there will be no problems,” he says with intent.
Generally speaking, the company undertakes a more technical support role, rather than field support. “We’ll recommend one of our 41 sub-Saharan African distributors or service centres – which are graded according to their capabilities. We focus our support mainly on the trailer side of the industry, because that seems to be where the skills are lacking.”
While the company will be interested to see how well its systems perform on the road, Silcock explains that to really test a braking system there needs to be sustained testing with a fleet. He says that the company has done this numerous times in the past, demonstrating differences in the frequency of breakdowns and lining life, for example.
“If we can guarantee such high-quality systems, our clients see that it is worth paying a bit more initially, rather than replacing systems three or four times in the same timeframe.
“We’ve had very few comebacks with our ABS units. In South Africa, systems come back as a result of bad maintenance, not factory faults … We offer a one-year warranty on all our systems, and on the ABS used in Truck Test 2015. We are happy to give extended warranties on the components, because we know they work,” he enthuses.
In this vein, Silcock explains that operators are becoming more savvy: “We have to change as the market develops, but ten years from now the whole market will probably be running EBS. Operators are looking beyond the initial cost of a vehicle to the full cost of ownership.”
Happily, the industry’s savvy operators will also be looking at Truck Test 2015, and will no doubt be impressed by WABCO’s enthusiastic involvement.