What is a Brake Inspector®?
Brake Inspector® is an in cab air brake diagnostic system that provides real time indication of air brake activity.
Out of adjustment brakes are the country’s leading cause of trucks and trailers being put out of service during DOT inspections. Fines and penalty points for out of adjustment brakes are costly and, to avoid them, means drivers need to know if their brakes are adjusted correctly before the inspection. Brake preventative maintenance is one of the leading areas of maintenance spending. Using Brake Inspector® dramatically reduces the amount of time required to check brake stroke and helps the mechanic identify possible brake problems ahead of time.
Brake Inspector® consists of a zinc plated heavy duty steel bracket which bolts onto the brake chamber. The sensor assembly attaches to this bracket. There is a magnetic replacement clevis pin that replaces the existing clevis pin. The sensor contains an automotive grade microprocessor and hall effect switches activated by pushrod movement when air brakes are applied. The signal is sent to the in cab display module that can monitor four axles and eight wheel ends. The tri-color LED’s emit green yellow or red signals indicating the type of brake default and the wheel end location.
Brake Inspector® saves time and money, and makes vehicles safer, but some fleets still have reservations. Here are some of the key reservations and responses.
Why do I need Brake Inspector® when I have automatic slacks adjusters?
Automatic slacks do not relieve a driver’s obligation to complete a mandatory pre-trip inspection of brake stroke travel. Brake Inspector® allows for quick and accurate inspection of brake adjustment status. The majority of brake adjustment fines and out of service orders issued to fleets have been to vehicles equipped with automatic slacks.
Automatic slacks are good but not fool proof. They must be set up correctly during the initial installation and require regular maintenance and lubrication to work properly. Brake Inspector® will show whether your slack is properly set up and working correctly. Slacks that frequently indicate an out of adjustment condition identified by Brake Inspector® could be defective. In addition to showing brakes that are in adjustment, Brake Inspector® identifies foundation brake problems including: non-activating brake chambers; non-releasing, or hung, brakes; slow releasing brakes; brakes approaching re-adjustment limit; brakes reached or passed the adjustment limit; and weak or broken parking brake springs. Brake Inspector® has a positive impact on your maintenance costs with fewer unnecessary brake adjustments. Using Brake Inspector® will pre-empt costly repairs by identifying existing and potential brake problems.
Auto slacks do not relieve a driver from doing an accurate mandatory pre-trip inspection of the brake stroke travel. Many fines and out of service order issued to fleets have been to vehicles equipped with auto slacks.
Our drivers won't take the time to use them even if I put them on -- so why do it?
We understand that drivers are anxious to get on the road and many non-electronic, visual indicators have met resistance from drivers who object to the time consuming task of inspecting brake adjustment. However, drivers using Brake Inspector® have told us that they can perform the mandatory brake stroke inspection in less than two minutes without leaving the cab. They can start driving sooner with the knowledge that their brakes are in proper adjustment and whether the slack adjuster is properly set up and working correctly.
What does the DOT think of your Brake Inspector® product?
The DOT is a strong supporter of brake stroke indicators and they’d like to see them on all trucks and trailers. While performing a Level 1 inspection, a DOT inspector can quickly see whether your brakes are in adjustment without having to get on a creeper and crawl under the truck and trailer. We receive phone calls regularly from drivers who have gone through inspection stations and who report that when the DOT inspector sees Brake Inspector® installed on their vehicle they realize that the company is making a commitment to safety. Drivers have told us that the DOT moves them through the inspection process faster. When you operate your equipment with Brake Inspector® you know ahead of time whether brakes are in adjustment before being stopped for inspection.
Why should I use Brake Inspector®? I already have a visual means of checking brake stroke (e.g. the push rod is pre-marked; my automatic slack has an indicator; I use a plastic disk).
The existence of other ways of visually checking brake stroke is proof of the fact that there is a need of some effective means. Please consider the reliability of the method that you are currently using and compare it to using Brake Inspector®. For example, how long will markings on the push rod of a new chamber be easily visible before they are hidden by dirt, mud or grease? Plastic is famous for cracking in cold weather conditions or weakening and breaking from road debris and chemicals.
Will the method that you are using stand up to the rigors of the heavy duty trucking environment the way a durable steel bracket will? How committed will your drivers be to checking your existing product in extreme cold and snow, hot and wet operating conditions? Brake Inspector® provides accurate inspection from the comfort of the vehicle’s cab.
Why do I need Brake Inspector®? Our fleet is clean; I run a tight maintenance shop; when trucks and trailers leave our facility, the brakes are fine.
Even the best maintained fleets can have serious brake adjustment issues. Unfortunately, when the vehicles leave the yard they are out of your control. The amount of brake stroke travel is directly related to the amount of wear the brake shoes have. As you know, this is a factor of two things: the weight of the load carried and how often your driver is on and off the brake pedal. With today’s road conditions, congested traffic, and unpredictable weather, properly adjusted brakes can wear down and quickly become out of adjustment. Add to this the operation parameters of the equipment including long hours of operation, punishing long hauls though mountainous terrains, constant stop and go of city transport and the increased temperatures the brake shoes endure while being applied under these severe operating conditions, your fleet may well experience faster brake wear and a higher incidence of brakes out of adjustment.
Even the best run maintenance shops are looking for ways to improve productivity and save money. Brake Inspector® ensures that your shop time is not wasted. The amount of time spent adjusting brakes that really don’t need adjusting can be better utilized on other maintenance and reduce driver and equipment down time due to needless adjustment. In addition, Brake Inspector® can identify other problems in the foundation brake before they need costly repair.
Without Brake Inspector® to determine brake status, you run the risk of being detained at a roadside inspection in the event that a brake has become out of adjustment. The result is facing the unplanned expense of dispatching one of your mechanics or sending a mobile service company out to a truck or trailer which has been detained because of an out of adjustment condition. In addition, fines and a black mark on your CSA record can result.
We have a large fleet and a small budget. Will this be an expensive retrofit?
Brake Inspector® pays for itself through dramatically reduced pre-trip inspection time for drivers, brake inspection for mechanics and identification of problems with the foundation brake system. The DOT “mark and measure” method can take 25-30 minutes per truck or trailer to do a proper inspection while Brake Inspector® takes less than 2 minutes for an accurate in-cab check. Time is money and using Brake Inspector® will provide substantial savings. Mechanics using Brake Inspector® can avoid needless brake adjustment and ensure more balanced braking and reduced tire wear. Reduced staff and equipment downtime and elimination of fines and roadside detention at inspection stations are realistic expectations when Brake Inspector® is used.
Many fleets will spec Brake Inspector® at the time of ordering new equipment and selectively retro-fit equipment during regularly scheduled maintenance spreading the cost of outfitting the fleet over the maintenance cycle.
How complicated is the installation? How much will it cost? Who does it?
The Brake Inspector® system is packaged in kit form with all the necessary components depending on the number of axles of your vehicle. Very detailed instructions to complete the installation as well as an installation and trouble- shooting video are included. The average time to install a 3 axle system is approximately 3.5 hours from start to final system programming. The cost of the installation will vary depending on the labour rate your install facility charges. The system can be installed by a certified mechanic or someone that is mechanically inclined and it does not require any special tools.