Industry Works on Tractor-Trailer Connections

Business Works on Tractor-Trailer Connections

[Find the latest in equipment & maintenance: Explore this quarter’s issue of Calibrate]

As extra information is being shared between vans and trailers, the trucking trade is working to standardize the connections of the longer term. Within the meantime, fleets are searching for options — a few of them low-tech — to make sure vans and trailers discuss to one another now.

The usual U.S. configuration is a seven-pin J560 electrical cable together with two pneumatic cables used for braking. However Robert Braswell, government director of the American Trucking Associations Expertise & Upkeep Council, recalled a survey of TMC fleets the place roughly 30% mentioned they had been utilizing a second electrical cable in no less than some purposes.

Though Braswell famous that TMC members aren’t consultant of your entire trucking trade, most carriers are utilizing one cable.

A driver hooks up the air strains between the tractor and trailer. (RCarner through Getty Photos)

In Europe, two wires are customary, however the subject continues to be being contemplated in america. Growing quantities of knowledge are shared by tractors and trailers for telematics, 360-degree visibility and sensor-­based mostly upkeep. TMC has been serving to lead the discussions in regards to the future which have concerned all of the trailer and tractor producers together with third-party telematics suppliers.

“The entire good trailer world is up within the air,” he mentioned. “It’s the wild, Wild West.”

Braswell mentioned future connections might embody a J560-compatible connector that has greater than seven circuits — what as soon as was known as a “smiling jack” connector. There’s been discuss of wi-fi connections. He believes requirements might coalesce by the tip of the last decade.

“There’s going to be a push for standardization,” he mentioned. “The fleets will insist on it.”

Mike Grima, vp of kit providers for Yellow, mentioned his fleet’s customary seven-pin connection means there are 14 connections, seven on every finish. However as soon as a second trailer is added, that quantity will increase to 42 between the tractor, the 2 trailers and the dolly connecting them.

In different phrases, Grima mentioned, that’s “42 alternatives to have a failure.” However Grima mentioned future know-how might scale back the variety of connections.

“There’s fixed evolution of applied sciences which will present different options sooner or later that embody discount of the variety of connections,” he mentioned.

air brake hose

Arguably, the tractor-trailer connection is the automobile’s most significant, but low-tech part. (Quianli)

Yellow ranks No. 10 on the Transport Matters Prime 100 record of the biggest for-hire carriers in North America.

Braswell mentioned sustaining the cables requires frequent consideration. They’re wearable objects, not sturdy ones.

“You’re going via them like loopy, if for no different motive than typically you neglect to hook them up and so they get drug down the street or they’re improperly related or they’re unmated in a tough manner for some motive,” he mentioned. “Any individual forgets to disconnect after they’re doing the separation. There’s all kinds of how you may injury this stuff. The motive force needs to be diligent about how they hook up and separate, and also you’ve bought to be diligent in regards to the upkeep of the programs to start with.”

Braswell mentioned TMC has a listing of greatest practices. For {the electrical} coil, technicians ought to search for abrasions, cuts and cracks within the inexperienced cable jacket. Technicians ought to make sure the integrity isn’t compromised so there isn’t a entry level for corrosion. Typically daylight can degrade the jacket, so if it’s light right into a chalky wanting inexperienced, it’s most likely brittle with hairline cracks. Dust and corrosion needs to be eliminated with a wire brush and a cleaner. The plug and socket terminals needs to be coated with corrosion prevention materials. A lubricant or sealant can preserve out moisture.

Technicians ought to restore and substitute unfastened or poorly made terminal-to-wire connections. They need to verify the situations of the plug’s spring-loaded feminine terminals, in addition to the male pin sockets to make sure they’re making good contact the place mated. Technicians most likely wish to verify the voltage to make sure adequate energy.

For the pneumatic cables, they need to search for kinks within the line and abrasions or cuts within the outer jacket. The tubing beneath needs to be in good situation. Simply as with electrical strains, daylight can fade the tubing’s outer layer, which might make it brittle and cracked. They need to pay attention for air leakage when the system is pressurized, and search for extreme sag when attached. They need to examine the fittings and make sure the seals are correct within the gladhands. Springs holding cables in place shouldn’t be broken, unfastened, have sharp edges or have rusted parts.

Braswell mentioned technicians shouldn’t permit the cable to sag or be ready the place it may be snagged, chafed or reduce.

Nussbaum Transportation addresses that subject by utilizing 12-foot cables reasonably than 15-footers, mentioned James Grier, the fleet’s director of fleet service. He defined that they’ve much less probability of being snagged. The shorter cable might be pulled from the again of the cab, however correct consideration and upkeep can stop issues from sharp lefts and rights.

“The 15-foot simply type of invitations extra alternative for rubbing and snagging, which we don’t need,” he mentioned. “We wish to keep away from any DOT points that we might presumably have, and we’ve had little or no of it with the 12-footers.”

Greg Pawelski, vp of well being and security at XPO Logistics, mentioned his fleet additionally makes use of a 12-foot cable, which doesn’t drag, together with in tight turns. XPO Logistics principally makes use of a single electrical connection, with a second supplied for a devoted carry gate trailer. XPO Logistics’ ongoing trailer charging system permits it to keep away from the second connection. XPO Logistics ranks No. 3 on the TT Prime 100 for-hire carriers record and No. 6 on the TT Prime 100 record of the biggest logistics corporations in North America.

Yellow’s Grima mentioned fleets are in a relentless battle with corrosion-causing moisture. The issue is made worse by magnesium chloride, which is used to deal with roadways for ice and snow. It attracts moisture from the air. As soon as it will get right into a wiring harness, it acts like a sponge and may wick upstream or downstream, inflicting corrosion farther down the road. To stop that from taking place, Yellow technicians encase the wiring with a plastic sleeve, warmth it and shrink it, whereas a glue helps create a watertight connection. The fleet has additionally moved to soldered connections reasonably than crimp connections for repairs. These are sealed with a watertight shrink tube.

Conserving Up With Expertise

Grima emphasised the significance of an efficient technician coaching program. Expertise is continually altering, and electrical programs are essentially the most difficult repairs for technicians.

“Mechanics are sometimes left-brainers,” he mentioned. “They suppose in footage. They take a look at issues and may perceive by seeing. In electrical, you may certain really feel it, however you may’t see it, so it’s exhausting to grasp and tough to diagnose.”

Simply as coaching technicians is vital, so is coaching drivers. Daniel Mustafa, director of technical service for Journey Facilities of America-Petro, mentioned failures most frequently happen when drivers fail to disconnect after they drop the trailer. Drivers want to notice injury when it happens, and needs to be skilled to accurately establish when a lighting subject happens on the tractor aspect.

Penske truck

Penske has discovered success by utilizing a two-spring configuration design. (Penske Logistics)

When the driving force initially hooks up, all of the lights needs to be off, Mustafa famous. The surge of power if there’s already energy may cause fuses to blow and circuit breakers to overload. A breaker mechanically can reset with out the driving force figuring out it. They might report a difficulty with the trailer when the issue was with the tractor.

Final yr, Penske Logistics, which ranks No. 15 on the TT 100 for-hire record, labored with Phillips to raised perceive the most effective configuration for the springs that droop the cables and guarantee they return to their unique place when the truck and trailer come again in line.

Chris Hough, Penske vp of upkeep design and engineering, mentioned any automobile Penske purchases has the identical design the place all three strains are encased collectively by a single black plastic wrap.

The corporate found via experimentation {that a} two-spring configuration was superior to the only heavy-duty spring Penske was utilizing. The one spring tended to get stretched so the cables would sag and chafe. In the meantime, the corporate started utilizing a counterclockwise reasonably than a clockwise loop. It helps the cables come again collectively after the truck and trailer straighten out after a flip.

Penske labored with Phillips to interchange the cable’s aluminum extension with a rubber one that’s inflexible sufficient for the driving force to understand however versatile sufficient to bend when the scenario requires it.

Ryder has a seven-pin connector as a regular in its rental fleet, plus a two-pin connector for carry gates or various offloading units. Lease truck prospects could even have one other wire. Ryder ranks No. 11 on the TT 100 for-hire record and No. 13 on the TT 100 logistics record.

Ryder’s David Kegley, who serves as its supervisor of upkeep coaching, mentioned for the previous couple of years the fleet has moved away from forged aluminum connectors to a nonconductive, nonmetal one with multilip seals. He emphasised the significance of inspections. Any abrasion can begin the corrosion.

“Secret’s the preventive upkeep inspection, and to have the ability to establish small issues that trigger massive issues,” he mentioned.

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