Outtakes from our conversation with Fred Andersky of Bendix When Fleet Equipment made the trek down to Louisville to attend this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show, the main question we had in mind was: what will the future of trucking look like? One of our go-to sources for answers to that question was Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems. After the Bendix press conference at MATS, Editor Jason Morgan met up with Fred Andersky, director of customer solutions for controls with Bendix, to ask some questions about collision mitigation systems, air disc brakes and what’s coming down the line for Bendix. Part of this conversation was covered in our MATS video, but there were many more topics covered in the interview that we wanted to share. The full transcript of our interview is below. Jason Morgan, Fleet Equipment: To start off, it seems like collision mitigation systems are outpacing air disc brakes in terms of adoption. Is that fair to say? Fred Andersky, Bendix: It’s a good question, and I actually think that they may be going at a pretty similar pace. We’ve seen a lot more uptick in air disc brake take rates, really, since the reduced stopping distance regulation came out, and also because the value proposition on air disc brakes is continuing to prove itself – lower maintenance and longer durability. I think the collision mitigation systems are growing as well, but I haven’t done a side-by-side. So, now I’m intrigued. But I also think the collision mitigation systems are growing because of the return on investment. And they work. Watch our On the Road episode featuring our conversation with Bendix. Jason: When you’re talking about collision mitigation, does the system know a difference between drum and air disc brakes? Fred: No. We need this much brake force, the system says, in a particular situation. So, we’re going to apply as much braking as we can to get that force. We get there faster with air disc brake. Jason: I see. I know that you touched a little on vocational applications. I know that PACCAR has made collision mitigation systems available on their vocational trucks recently. What are the challenges, though, in that vocational segment? What do you think is holding it back from really kind of adopting more of a safety system focus? Fred: When we take a look at rates of collision, it tends to be a bigger issue in on-highway applications than we’re seeing on the vocational truck applications. So, it’s not that they don’t have rear-end collisions, but they’re typically not having as many of them. And a lot of it also depends on the application. Take a step back to stability. Stability on dump trucks may be a good thing. I mean, stability on anything is a good thing, but where is it really needed? Cement mixers are one example. Higher center of gravity, more propensity to roll over. So, when we see stability adoption, we see it going a lot more on those applications, where there is a propensity for a problem. Jason: Getting into some of the products that are coming down the line, I know that several times advanced driver assistance systems were referenced [in the Bendix presentation]. What specifically are those advanced systems compared to what we have today? Fred: We look at advanced driver assistance systems as the next generation of existing systems – they are able to do more, either through additional information into the system or the ability to do more interventions. Bendix Wingman Fusion, in my mind, is the first step in advanced driver assistance, because now, instead of just having a single function – collision mitigation – not only have we fused the sensors – camera and radar – to provide more information into the system, but we’ve also fused multiple functions into the same system. The system can do more than just offer enhanced collision mitigation – it can help drivers maintain safe speeds, through speed sign recognition, and help mitigate sideswipe crashes with lane departure warnings. With the radar-only Wingman Advanced system, depending on the situation, we can scrub off up to 18- 25 miles an hour. With the Fusion system, because we have more information coming in – figuring out the situation earlier, applying the brakes sooner– we can scrub off 35-38 miles per hour. Fusion will brake on a stationary vehicle because we can recognize that the object in front of us is a stationary vehicle. With radar-only systems, there isn’t the level of confidence you get from the crosschecking that we have with Fusion. So, we do a stationary object alert instead of braking. And the other issue that comes up is false alerts and false interventions. When the system intervenes and doesn’t need to, it can not only dissatisfy the driver, it can also be dangerous. So, you want to make sure that when these systems intervene, they had a reason to intervene. And that’s why Fusion really is an advanced driver assistance system – and it will get even more effective as we add in the capability to sense things on the side, and add steering control at some point. You see this as the Lego 100-block set that grows to the Lego 10,000-block set, because you’re able to add additional features and capabilities to the system. Jason: Speed sign recognition has come up a couple times today, so, if they’re going over the speed limit and a speed limit sign comes up, there’s a warning that says hey, we know what you’re doing, slow down? Fred: Actually, there are two warnings. When you go above 5 miles an hour over the speed limit, the Fusion system will give you an alert, saying hey, you’re speeding. Don’t forget, we’re also capturing that data, too, so we can provide information back to the home office. But if you’re 10 miles an hour over, the system gives you an alert and a one-second dethrottle. That’s because, sometimes, the driver may not pay attention to an alert, but when the truck does something they don’t expect it to do – whether the brakes apply or the engine dethrottles – it galvanizes their attention. Jason: Can you also talk about hybrid air disc brake systems? Fred: It’s not really a hybrid air disc brake system. It is a hybrid wheel-end system. Some folks have steer axle disc brakes and then drive axle drum brakes, or all disc on the tractor and drums on the trailer. This is what we’re calling the hybrid system, where it’s different types of wheel-ends – drum or disc – that work together. The question we’re trying to address in hybrid wheel-end combinations is how do we best optimize performance – both on the road and in the shop. Jason: And that could even be a stepping stone to full air disc brake adoption. The other thing that stuck out to me during the press conference was predictive maintenance. What do you think is going to enable that, and how far out do you think that really is? Fred: I think the next generation of predictive maintenance really gets to the idea of not just figuring out what the problem is, but figuring out whether there’s a way to fix the problem. I call it self-healing. Let’s say it’s a software issue, and an over-the-air software upgrade can be sent. Boom, that takes care of it. The truck keeps rolling down the road. Obviously, you’re not going to self-heal if your brake pads are worn out. You’re going to have to replace those. But the idea is that the electronics on the vehicle can take a software glitch that is causing a problem, and can fix that while the truck’s still rolling down the road, instead of having to go in the shop. We’re already doing some over-the-air updates for parameter settings for our SafetyDirect system, but before we touch the braking system, we’ve got to be sure that that link is secure. If all of a sudden we’re capturing video on SafetyDirect continuously, that’s not a safety hazard as much as if somebody’s able to hack into the brakes and apply the brakes in the middle of the road. So what’s going to drive a lot of this is cyber security. Jason: Predictive maintenance seems to be migrating from predictive to a business intelligence, where they’re also including future forecasting. Brake pads are my go-to example. I want to know when I’m going to need to replace my brake pads or under what conditions… I don’t want to have to pull my truck into the shop to look at the brake pad to know if I can go another 20,000 miles or 10,000 miles or if I should fix it now. Fred: Increasing efficiency, increasing productivity – aside from just the safety aspect, those are the key things that are going to make the difference between fleets who win and fleets who don’t, because if you’re able to cut those costs but still maintain that performance, it’s going to be important. And as we look at it, Bendix is a part of that, in that our sensors are able to capture certain information that might help. For example, gee, this truck is getting a lot of hard braking events, and oh, we see that this particular driver has a tendency of being closer than he or she should. Let’s coach them, back it off. We’ve just saved money. And so, there’s that. So, feeding that data in, suddenly you say, okay, we’ve found that in our modeling, maintaining a one-second or – depending on the situation, let’s just say, a two-second – following distance saves your brakes. We’re going to see that type of approach coming more and more. Jason: It’s funny how just the availability of the technology has leveled the fleet competition playing field. The major fleets have this technology, and they’ve built their own data warehouses. For today’s small fleets, technology companies are giving them that capability. They can compete at a new level. Fred: Well, I think it is the evolution of the business. You know, in the old days, it was, ‘Do I get this type of transmission and this type of engine?’ That’s still important, but it becomes more important in terms of the information I can get off of it and how secure my networks are going to be. And I think that big data, self-healing, artificial intelligence, deep learning, those types of things – these are terms that five years ago nobody was talking about for the trucking industry. Now, they’re going to become a requirement.