In support of the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Brake Safety Week campaign and inspections – taking place Sept. 8-14 – Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC is recommending fleets and drivers familiarize themselves with the CVSA inspection requirements and procedures.
Also known as Operation Air Brake, the effort is aimed at reducing the number of highway crashes caused by improperly maintained or faulty braking systems, and employs teams of CVSA-certified inspectors to conduct roadside checks of commercial vehicles and their drivers.
Targeting commercial vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, the program is conducted in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). According to CVSA, more than 32,500 vehicles were checked in 2012 during Operation Air Brake, which covered Brake Safety Week and an unannounced inspection date in May.
“By emphasizing proper training and upkeep practices, Operation Air Brake provides a valuable reminder of the importance of successful inspections in today’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) environment,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix director of government and industry affairs.
Operation Air Brake targets six items for inspection: driver’s license, registration, low air warning device, pushrod travel (adjustment), brake linings/drums, leaks/air loss rate, and tractor protection system.
In addition to emphasizing regularly scheduled preventive maintenance and pre-trip inspections, Bendix stresses the importance of proper replacement components, air system management, and ongoing technician and driver education.
Replacement Friction Matters
When regular maintenance or pre-trip inspections point to a need for friction replacement, it’s important to recognize the impact that friction selection has on safety and brake performance, noted Gary Ganaway, director of marketing and global customer solutions for Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC (BSFB).
“With the federal Reduced Stopping Distance (RSD) mandate now in full effect, fleets need to pay close attention to the issue of replacement brake lining performance and RSD compliance,” Ganaway said. “Because not all replacement friction marketed as acceptable under RSD will actually perform to the standard, fleets should ask for evidence of compliance from their friction supplier when replacing the friction on their RSD-equipped trucks.”
To support this point, Bendix compared the stopping distance performance of various linings on high performance drum brakes. The company measured the 60 mph stopping distance of a mandate-compliant vehicle with OEM brakes and high performance linings. Bendix then replaced the friction with multiple non-high performance original equipment and aftermarket materials that had passed the FMVSS 121 dyno test, but were not suitable for mandate compliance.
With nothing else changed, the vehicle’s stopping distance increased from 215 feet using the high performance friction to 311 feet with the worst-performing aftermarket replacement friction – a stunning 45 percent decrease in performance. That 96-foot difference in stopping distance – a total of five passenger car lengths – is a stark illustration of roadway safety at stake.
The RSD mandate requires most trucks to stop within 250 feet. Phase one of the mandate took effect in August 2011 for new three-axle tractors with Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWRs) up to 59,600 lbs. Phase two, aimed at tractors with two axles, as well as severe service tractors with GVWRs above 59,600 lbs, took effect Aug. 1, 2013.
BSFB is a joint venture between Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC and Dana Commercial Vehicle Products, LLC.
Keeping the Air Clean
Protecting a vehicle’s air system from contamination is crucial to maintaining a safe and effective air brake system. Oil, in particular, can be very harmful to an air system, contributing to premature damage in a variety of components such as spring brake modulating valves and brake chamber diaphragms. And oil-deteriorated seals can cause air system leaks – a target of Operation Air Brake inspections.
The installation and regularly scheduled replacement of air dryer cartridges such as Bendix PuraGuard oil-coalescing air dryer cartridges help ensure a brake system’s longevity and performance by collecting and removing solid, liquid, and aerosol contaminants before they enter the system.
“Adhering to a strict preventive maintenance schedule is key to keeping the air brake system clean and operating safely,” said Andersky, who also serves as Bendix director of marketing – Charging. “Air dryer cartridge replacement schedules vary according to the air compressor, operating environment, and vehicle usage, but fleets and drivers should check the functionality of their filters with monthly checks for moisture in the air brake system. If moisture is present, the air dryer cartridge may require replacement.”
Along with the air dryer cartridge, other components of the air dryer, including the purge valve assembly and the delivery check valve, should be inspected and replaced. See the applicable Bendix Service Data Sheet to clarify specific air dryer model maintenance requirements and schedule. Inspecting and, as necessary, replacing air dryer components on the Bendix suggested schedule will help ensure proper operation of the air brake system, as well as key components that rely on system air.
Knowledge Is Power
Equipping commercial fleets, technicians, and drivers with the tools they need to ensure safe operation through assessment, maintenance, and repair is vital to the industry’s ongoing roadway safety efforts. Both new and experienced techs need to remain up-to-date on the technologies and operations of commercial vehicle safety systems. Bendix’s commitment to technician education extends to offering field-tested sales and service professionals; a 100 percent ASE-certified field technical support team; and the Bendix Tech Team, an expert technical support phone line, among other tools.
The Bendix Brake Training School, one of the industry’s longest-running training programs, has educated more than 250,000 students since its founding more than 50 years ago.
Additionally, the Bendix On-Line Brake School provides free, flexible, customizable access to its knowledge database and technical resources. The website features a menu of 5- to 7-minute video segments, as well as a broad range of other training tools on all aspects of electronics and air brake maintenance.