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Heavy vehicle brake testing criteria update

Levanta helps bring your vehicle testing equipment up to speed

Compliance with brake performance criteria is one of the hottest topics in the heavy vehicle market at the moment.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has updated the old NTC Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual, which had not been updated since the late 1990’s. This meant the NHVR had inherited a manual that was outdated when applied to modern brake testing technology.

They are currently engaging with industry to ensure they get the next version of the manual to be even better, in particular with regard to how brake testing is done. As a result, Levanta has invested a lot of time assisting the NHVR to understand what is required to allow them to achieve useful roller brake test results.

While it is very encouraging that we are now much closer to a national approach to heavy vehicle inspection standards, there is still a lot of work to be done in understanding how best to utilise technology to assist in the inspection process.

The current state of play with brake testing

At the moment the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual specifies pass/fail criteria. The NHVR will be undertaking a full and comprehensive review of the entire brake section of the manual in 2017. The roller brake testing method is being reviewed to ensure that vehicle braking systems are safe. This is reflected in the delay by some jurisdictions moving to the NHVR brake performance criteria. As an example, NSW RMS has delayed their adoption of the brake performance criteria in the manual until 31 January 2017.

The requirements within the manual specify an efficiency for a pass as 4.5kN/tonne. Under RMS Rule 501 this was 3.0kN/tonne. This is a significant increase, and some operators are experiencing difficulty achieving this requirement for some types of vehicles, in particular trailers with trailing arm suspension.

One old pass/fail point that is finally being reviewed – as a direct result of Levanta’s involvement with the NHVR – is the brake drag rule. This criteria requires that there must be no more than 1kN of “brake” drag on a driven axle, and no more than 0.5kN of “brake” drag on a non-drive axle.

A point that has been overlooked for many years is that a roller brake tester does not individually measure brake drag, but rather measures wheel end drag. The main contributors to wheel end drag are brake drag, bearing loading, tyre pressure and weight. The NHVR has recently released a Fact Sheet advising that a vehicle should not be failed as a result of brake drag unless it can be proven to actually be brake drag. Download the Fact Sheet here.

Levanta has worked closely with BM Autoteknik (the manufacturer of our brake testers) to develop a warning where wheel end drag is higher than it should be. This has been incorporated to assist users to identify high drag and provide a potential reduction in fuel and maintenance costs for fleet owners.

Reducing fuel usage and downtime for your vehicle fleet

A large component of fuel usage involves getting a vehicle moving. If there is unnecessary drag in the driveline, the engine has to work harder to not only get the vehicle rolling, but also to keep it rolling.

While it may seem to be a sensible point to be concerned about, brake drag is in fact not the biggest problem. Component failure is by far a bigger issue. High wheel end drag is very often a result of a wheel bearing being either incorrectly tensioned, or about to fail. Similarly, high wheel end drag can be as a result of component failure in the mechanical braking system such as sticking components or broken springs.

If these items can be picked up and rectified at a vehicle’s regular service, it greatly reduces the risk of those components failing in the field – and costing you money.

Park brake performance criteria raise questions

Another shortcoming Levanta identified is the park brake performance criteria. The rate of vehicles rolling away when parked and ending up in someone’s bedroom is high enough to be of concern. The NHVR manual only requires that a park brake gives a reading, or the vehicle lifts out of the roller bed.

Levanta and BM Autoteknik saw this as a major shortcoming, and again implemented a warning when the brake force of a park brake is less than 1.5kN/tonne. The NHVR is reviewing this and has indicated that a change may occur in the next version of the manual.

Regardless of what the change may be, Levanta will be able to update the testing software within minutes of any changes that are likely to be made. We have always had the ability to remotely access and re-program any brake tester that can be accessed via the internet.

This remote management capability also allows us to quickly have one of our technicians (or indeed a technician from the BM Autoteknik factory in Denmark) access your system and either provide advice to your staff, or make changes to the system.

Superior brake testing equipment for your workshop

BM Autoteknik equipment has been engineered for maximum reliability and uptime. This has been proven year-on-year by its record as one of the most heavily used brake testers worldwide.

As the inspection division of the British Ministry of Transport, VOSA operates in excess of 70 roller brake testers in their test stations across the UK – most of which test upwards of 100 vehicles per day. The average fail rate of the BM equipment used by VOSA is just 1-2 faults per year across the 70 machines. About 3 years ago VOSA started to scale back the government inspection stations in favour of private Approved Test Facilities which are experiencing similar availability rates.

We’ve found the reliability of BM Autoteknik equipment in Australia is of a similar standard. What’s more, in most cases, if a fault is reported Levanta can assess and rectify it within 2 hours (subject to site location).

All of this technology is aimed at reducing your maintenance costs and keeping your fleet on the road in top working condition and providing a return on your investment.

Partner with a supplier that knows brake testing

Levanta are advocating for some further sensible changes to the brakes section of the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual. So when you’re selecting a partner to supply vehicle test equipment, it’s very important that that they have the ability to quickly modify their equipment to match the needs of your business to meet regulatory standards.

Another key consideration is to look for a partner that has the capacity and ability to work closely with staff doing the testing. As with most high tech testing equipment, there are some people who will pick it up and run with it, and some who will be frightened of new technology. It’s critical that your business has staff up to speed and realising the benefits of this equipment to the performance of your vehicle braking systems and your business.

This is why Levanta places so much emphasis on training and explaining how the system works – not only from an operational perspective, but also from the technical “nuts and bolts” angle.

To find out more about brake testing for your heavy vehicle workshop, call Levanta now on 1300 577 541 or fill out the contact form here.

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Topics: brake testing, heavy vehicle workshops

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