Mercedes engineer calls for trailer brake improvements

By: Greg Worrall


Despite major improvements in the quality of braking systems on prime movers, there are concerns among truck manufacturers that trailers

Despite major improvements in the quality of braking systems on prime movers, there are concerns among truck manufacturers that trailers are still being fitted with old style units that cannot cope with new technologies.

Romesh Rodrigo, Mercedes Benz Truck Group manager for Product Sales and Engineering, says significant advances in truck brakes mean a ‘smart’ combination can be stopped quickly and safely, however old style brake units cannot perform as efficiently.

He says the Actros prime mover is available with a suite of safety products that can ‘talk’ to EBS brakes – an advance over ABS brakes - on a trailer, determining the level of braking effort needed to stop the combination without locking tyres, regardless of whether it is loaded or empty.

However many new trailers are still able to be ordered with ‘dumb’ brakes that do not have the same level of modulation as the newer EBS units, which can also be used in conjunction with older model prime movers.

Rodrigo says while regulators have focused on improving the safety and performance of prime movers in recent years, trailers and their braking systems have not been subject to the same scrutiny.

"I believe regulators should investigate minimum standards for trailer braking, to take advantage of the increases in prime mover performance," Rodrigo says.

European testing shows major improvements in trailer braking performance by changing from ABS brakes to wheel slip control, with even greater stopping ability when the brake actuation system is upgraded.

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