As the industry faces an increase in technological advancements and innovation, the rear-of-cab configuration of trailer air and electrical connections works with cruise control. Most fleets take what has always worked and spend their energy finding the rest.
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In recent years, however, the acceleration of product development and design for rear-of-cab components provides fleets with more choices to change the dynamics of this product category. By moving it from a simple cost of doing business to an opportunity for return on investment, fleets are simplifying installations and limiting service requirements at this critical intersection on their truck and trailer combinations.
Transporting loads on time depends on this connection working properly with minimal downtime. And the correct installation of equipment such as rear cab components can take time in a workshop, and repairs and replacements on the road can consume more time and money – time and money. money that could be used elsewhere.
A typical semi-trailer has a minimum of three lines to connect power and tires from the tractor to the trailer when the vehicle is in motion. Although what a fleet specifies when ordering new trucks is its own prerogative, parts, such as quality cables and plugs, must be accounted for with proper support for these cables. With a problem-solving approach, Phillips has been a big proponent of finding product solutions that work for a fleet to increase ROI in this area.
One of the first changes in the industry of this product category came with the move from coiled lines to straight lines. Today, around 70% of Phillips’ overhead and power line demand, for example, is met by straight versions. While electric and pneumatic lines come in coiled and straight versions that perform the same function, Phillips has learned that straight cables are more durable and resilient than their coiled counterparts. The disadvantages of coiled cables are that they are more prone to sagging and dragging on the deck plate and tangling with each other, increasing the chance of kinks. Kinks in air lines are irreversible and restrict airflow. Coiled cables requiring frequent replacement increase downtime and CSA violations.
More recently, there has been a market shift towards 3-IN-1 combination assemblies. Combination assemblies offer a unique approach to cable protection. They combine straight rubber air lines and straight electrical cables into a single spiral combination protection unit, preventing tangles and providing abrasion protection. And although heavier in weight, using a proper cable hanger properly installed keeps those lines off the deck plate, further reducing the risk of damage and unplanned downtime.
After the introduction and industry acceptance of 3-IN-1 combos, Phillips saw the next logical step in reducing the cost of rear-cab components with an all-in-one Power Air Kit (PAK). in one. Phillips PAKs are offered in three tiered solutions to replace any level of aft cabin system, from premium to premium to basic. They combine ready-to-install, factory-assembled tractor-trailer connection components. These include air and electrical lines, pre-installed handles, and cable support designed to save time and money under one part number. Phillips introduced this product solution with hands-on training in fleets and distributors. A PAK is simple to install and ensures the right combination of durable products for reliable connections between tractor and trailer.
What hasn’t changed much for components in the rear of the cab is that routine maintenance is essential. Nothing is indestructible. Without proper care, even the best products can fall into disrepair. It is imperative that drivers make regular visits and scheduled routine maintenance to ensure cables are well supported and in good working order. Electrical plugs and sockets should be cleaned and greased, and cables can be tested for continuity to ensure that all circuits are in working order. Gladhands should be inspected for gasket replacement, loose trigger and connection plates and even signs of corrosion. Any problem found should be resolved immediately, either by repair or replacement.
By specifying, properly installing and maintaining the cables that connect the tractor to the trailer, fleets can ensure an uninterrupted ride and avoid the pitfalls that lead to downtime with the strongest connection possible.
Liam Ballatori is a product manager at Phillips Industries. Visit Phillips Industries to learn more.