Partnership to Improve Truck and Bus Safety

SEATTLE /PRNewswire/ -- Brake problems on big trucks and buses -- the number one safety and maintenance concern with operators and regulators -- could be spotted and fixed sooner with a radio frequency identification (RFID) inspection system being developed by Zonar Systems and Spectra Inc., the companies say.


Zonar Systems said it is partnering with Spectra Inc. of Toronto to co-develop an RFID-enabled brake diagnostics system. Based on Spectra's proven brake sensor technology, the new product leverages the company's extensive experience with heavy-duty brakes and Zonar's patented RFID verified visual inspection system. Both companies said the system would be low cost, easily utilized and highly effective.


Mike McQuade, Director of Research and Development at Seattle-based Zonar Systems said, "Brake problems on trucks and buses are a safety concern, plus a huge maintenance and cost issue for operators. Our existing inspection product is proven on fleets, and adding this new sensor technology will revolutionize the way brakes are checked. Soon, drivers will be able to check the brakes daily with a simple push button test."


Spectra Chairman Andrew J. Malion said, "We are thrilled to be a part of what will be a quantum leap forward in how big trucks and buses are inspected and maintained. I predict that electronic vehicle inspection will be welcomed with open arms by the commercial trucking industry because it will impact safety and revenues dramatically."


Malion explained that the Zonar/Spectra inspection system will work on all air brake equipped trucks, buses, trailers and container chassis and is simple for drivers to use during federally required pre-and post-trip safety inspections. "It will save time, money, and aggravation for both drivers and large fleet operators alike."


According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), brake problems account for about half of all safety defects resulting in heavy vehicles being put out of service.


Brake and other maintenance problems also are safety concerns at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).


NTSB includes on its "Most Wanted" list "improving the safety of motor carrier operations." Similarly, the strategic objectives of the FMCSA include, "Improve safety of commercial motor vehicles through vehicle-based safety technologies."


McQuade predicted that the new Zonar/Spectra brake inspection product would help commercial operators meet federal safety improvement goals. "Another expected benefit is that it puts drivers into a safety mindset when they start their day."


"'America Moves By Truck,' is more than a slogan," McQuade said. "It symbolizes the importance of trucks to our economy, millions of trucks and trailers move 6.7 billion tons of freight and travel more than 118 billion miles annually. Out-of-service time for mechanical and safety issues is an industry challenge that is expensive in lost productivity, decreased income for drivers and increased cost of consumer goods."


The Zonar inspection system uses electronic sensors mounted at key locations on each truck or bus. The driver uses a hand-held electronic monitor to "check in" and inspect each sensor position, entering into the system any safety or maintenance concerns. Information then is electronically transferred instantly to a central database to provide immediate problem alerts and a permanent record that the checks were performed.


"It also eliminates the considerable paperwork burden of manual inspection and reporting, and is more reliable. Visual inspection is the gold standard for safety and operational efficiency," McQuade said. "RFID makes it even better. Zonar's inspection system is part of a larger fleet telematics solution called 'Ground Traffic Control(TM)."


Malion explained, "We will offer the trucking and bus industries -- and federal and state regulators who monitor the safety of these vehicles -- a better way to ensure safety compliance during the more than 2 million commercial vehicle inspections that are conducted annually."



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