Stop for Maintenance

Medium duty vocational brakes are unquestionably a heavy wear item, but can proper maintenance practices help extend component life?


From maintenance to replacement, high service items like brakes have slowly become the itch fleets can't reach as technology and duty cycles continue to increase equipment down time. WEIGHING THE COST With forty years of brake experience under his belt, Randy Petresh, vice president of...


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From maintenance to replacement, high service items like brakes have slowly become the itch fleets can't reach as technology and duty cycles continue to increase equipment down time.

WEIGHING THE COST

With forty years of brake experience under his belt, Randy Petresh, vice president of technical services for Haldex Brakes, says preventative maintenance (PM) is the one message fleets seem to overlook when it comes to their trucks.

"Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance," he says. "The big thing that concerns me is the fact that maintenance is one of those things often ignored.

"I have 30 or 40 guys that go around training constantly, and every year or two they go back to the same place, same group all over again because everything has changed," Petresh said. The biggest frustration remains that those who ignore maintenance are the same people who complain the most about failed hardware.

With the cost of running a business a constant concern, Petresh understands fleets need to save a few dollars, but in the long run, cutting maintenance may not save them anything. "Everyone is looking for ways to cut corners in maintenance. With fleet operators that run their equipment into the ground, we know they are pushing everything to the wall," he says.

He warns that despite the initial cost of maintenance, fleets can't wait around for components to break. Not only is that practice expensive, but it can also be very dangerous.

VARIED APPLICATION

From an engineering stand point, Tom Runels, engineering manager for drum brakes at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake, says trying to predict brake failure and replacement in the medium duty world has become a job in itself, simply because no two duty cycles are ever the same.

"You can have the same brake on a variety of different vehicles, and it will give you a different life based upon the duty cycle, the type of route, whether it is city or rural, and whether it is a mountain area or not," Runels says.

From utility to construction, school buses to delivery, fleets continue to reassess duty cycles and vehicle usage in order to create maintenance and replacement schedules for each and every truck they run. In reference to brakes, there could be a mixed message when relating to maintenance versus replacement.

REPLACE OR MAINTAIN

The issue seems to have become more about knowing when to replace the brakes and less about maintaining the individual components.

Duty cycles are very individual to each fleet, but personalizing maintenance and replacement schedules s a process.

"Most of our customers keep very good records and understand what their requirements are," says Runels. "We try to work with them when we specify materials to be used, whether it's the lining material, brake size and their chamber size, not only to give them the required stopping distance and best life, but we try to help them to time that life to meet their maintenance requirements."

Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake's marketing manager for hydraulic products, Andrew Hess, agrees that efficient schedules measure the level of success for fleets. "The guys who run fleets have a verygood bearing on when they should be looking at things."

Hess points out that fleets keep a careful watch on maintenance and replacement, especially in school bus fleets, because the ability of the brake to function directly relates to the safety of children and the operator.

At the end of the day, component replacement comes back to utilizing the correct PM.

As an engineer, Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake's Runels says, "We try to address (PM) up front when we approve a brake system for a vehicle. We try to size the brake properly, and get the right lining, because if they don't have the right lining or the right brake size, they are going to have maintenance issues.

"As a vehicle gets out into the field, and show signs of excessive wear or fade or some other issue, we would want to get involved to make sure that the person is using an appropriate application. Perhaps there are things we can do to help them reduce the maintenance costs with different linings or a different brake set up," says Runels.

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