TMC, PIT Group research reports

TMC eyeing efficiency, electromechanical brakes

March 4, 2020
ATA’s Council, PIT Group evaluate value of fuel economy calculator, advanced trailer brakes in recent research reports

The American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council, in conjunction with FPInnovations’ PIT Group, recently released reports detailing the effectiveness of the Council’s aerodynamic fuel savings calculator and investigating electromechanical brakes for tractor trailers.

“TMC is at the vanguard of research into truck technologies, and through our partnership with PIT Group, we are able to demonstrate the value these systems can bring to our industry,” said Robert Braswell, TMC’s executive director. “These reports contain valuable insights into fuel economy and safety—two issues at the forefront of our Council’s mission.”

In its evaluation of TMC’s Interactive Aerodynamic Fuel Savings Calculator, PIT Group assessed a proposed update to the calculator, which provides equipment operators with an interactive mathematical tool to evaluate the potential fuel and economic savings of an aerodynamic device that has been tested using one of TMC’s fuel economy testing procedures for Class 6-8 tractors coupled to commercial trailers of all types.

After reviewing data from 87 tests conducted since 2007, which was separated into 11 categories of technologies and practices related to aerodynamic technologies for trailers, as well as data coming from other reliable sources that was judged to correlate with PIT Group test results, the PIT Group found the calculator “helpful for fleet managers and owner-operators to evaluate the options for the adoption of aerodynamic technologies.”

The PIT Group also gave general indications and examples regarding the layout presentation of the elements of the calculator to provide users an optimum experience. These recommendations will be considered by the RP 1118 Update Task Force in finalizing revisions to the calculator, TMC said.

In the second project, PIT Group investigated current developments around electromechanical brakes for tractor trailers to support TMC’s work in the Future Truck program, specifically around the future of commercial braking.

PIT Group researched and evaluated 43 original equipment manufacturers for EMB technology of which 16 OEMs known to be active in the trucking industry were approached, pertaining to their involvement in electromechanical brake development for Class 8 trucks. With the information provided, PIT Group assessed the “state of design” of the respective technologies based on current data of available technologies including how far they have gone toward building any prototypes, as well as technical challenges, limitations and obstacles anticipated or encountered.

PIT Group found that various manufacturers were involved in research and development of EMBs, ranging from pre-prototype design all the way to prototype testing and on-road evaluation. Generally, EMBs under development are likely to be exclusively disc brakes, could be employed without significantly altering existing axles but in heavy-duty vehicles would require 24- or 48-volt power systems. Despite the differences inherent in each OEM’s electromechanical braking system, they claim to possess advantages over current pneumatic brakes, such as increased wheel-end diagnostics and reduced stopping distance. However, cost appears to be a significant inhibiting factor to near-term utilization, in addition to the need to modify the regulatory framework, especially if required to work in a mixed pneumatic/EMB architecture.

“After considering this research, the committee will recommend whether TMC should proceed to a second phase of the project, which would be to track test prototype EMB equipped tractor trailers in configurations typical in the North American market,” Braswell said.

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