Moving forward with truck safety

August 13, 2019 By    

For Westmor Industries, there’s “No Going Back” when it comes to truck safety.

Just to the right of Westmor’s Blueline logo is one lens of a 360-degree camera. Photo courtesy of Westmor

Just to the right of Westmor’s Blueline logo is one lens of a 360-degree camera. Photo courtesy of Westmor

That slogan is displayed prominently on the back of the company’s two new Blueline Bobtail models, one with front-delivery and the other with mid-delivery capability.

The front- and mid-delivery designs are new innovations for the propane industry, but other industries use similar concepts, says Tim Albert, regional sales manager for Westmor’s Eastern region. Westmor took inspiration for the new models from cement mixers – which often unload cement at the front of the truck – and aircraft fuelers, which usually deliver from the side or middle of the vehicle.

By moving the hose reel from the back of the bobtail to the front or to the middle – between the back of the cab and the front of the tank – Westmor offers a solution to “unsafe backing,” which it hears from customers is a major cause of accidents. Minimizing the need to back up lessens the risk of personal injury and damage to a customer’s property or to equipment.

“The theory behind that is if the driver goes on a site and pulls in forward, he’s going to understand and know the landscape, so even if he has to turn around or back out of there, if it’s a first-time visit to the site, he’s going to understand the landscape a lot better,” explains Albert.

The new designs are useful when delivering to tight spaces, such as agricultural accounts that pack several large tanks in a row, says Jason Soulon, regional sales manager for Westmor’s Southwest region.

The benefits of front- or mid-delivery go beyond steering. Albert says many of Westmor’s customers on the East Coast deliver to chicken houses. Backup alarms frighten the chickens, so drivers often have to engage a secondary switch to disable the alarm. Pulling forward eliminates that step.

Westmor enhances safe maneuvering with technological additions. A 360-degree camera improves safety on the front-delivery model and is optional for the mid-delivery model.

In general, 360-degree cameras have been slow to penetrate the commercial market compared to automobiles, but that trend is changing.

“Over the last year especially, we are seeing a significant demand and request from our customers for that feature,” comments Soulon.

A sonar obstacle detection system, which alerts the driver if he is about to collide with a rear obstacle while backing up, is available for both units.

Full-scale collision mitigation systems – similar to “active braking” systems advertised by automobile manufacturers – are also growing in popularity for commercial trucks. According to Soulon, Westmor’s next safety venture is researching how this technology might benefit the propane industry.

Hi-tech safety

From camera and video technology to Bluetooth capabilities that offer busy drivers and technicians hands-free communication, technological advancements play an increasingly important role in improving truck safety.

In addition to cameras and collision mitigation systems, crane control systems and GPS/telematics devices are on the cutting edge of preventing personal injury and equipment damage.

Crane control systems: These systems, which are finding increased use in service trucks, give operators greater control over precise measurements like load capacity, percentage of load and boom angle. These systems typically incorporate sensors that provide feedback and a remote-control display. The measurements help ensure safe and reliable crane operation. Previously, crane operation – typically involving toggle-switch control cords – was more of a “guessing game” compared to the capabilities of new crane remotes, explains John Hawkins, CEO of H&H Sales Co.

GPS/telematics devices: These fleet management devices offer a number of safety benefits, explains Patrick Halpin, sales representative and business development manager for Vertrax. Capabilities include gathering data about driver habits such as seatbelt usage, excessive speed and harsh braking or cornering. These devices can also provide vehicle and engine diagnostics to alert drivers when there may be a problem with the vehicle.

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