Trailer brakes

Trailer technology advancements

WABCO Trailer with OptiFlow.jpg

Several new technologies being introduced to the market by WABCO, a leading supplier of braking and control systems for heavy commercial vehicles, are attracting increasing attention in the International market in terms both safety and fuel efficiency

“Pioneering technologies have defined WABCO for the last several decades,” says Enoch Silcock, MD of WABCO Automotive SA. “The organisation’s leadership is rooted in unique capabilities to develop cutting edge industry breakthroughs in safety and efficiency systems for trucks, buses and trailers. WABCO technologies also help the industry to respond to ever tightening government regulations around the world aiming to achieve safer and more efficient commercial vehicle operation.”

Released towards the end of 2014, WABCO’s OptiLink technology is the industry’s first mobile application that remotely controls and monitors a suite of vehicle safety and efficiency functions on truck-trailer combinations. This innovative new technology is the first on the market to provide a single user interface via a mobile device, such as a Smartphone, to monitor and control multiple functions on both the truck and trailer.

Available in 11 languages, the OptiLink app offers easy operator access to 18 functions, providing the industry’s widest range of functions for tractor-trailer combinations through a single mobile device. It is being hailed as another milestone in remote management of safety and efficiency functions on truck-trailer combinations worldwide, while also offering considerable opportunity to improve return on investment on daily fleet transport business.

The mobile app equips drivers with an easy-to-use display of highly visual information from the vehicles’ on-board systems, such as suspension control, lift axle control and brake functions. It also allows users to tailor their OptiLink “dashboard” according to preferences for control and monitoring of vehicle safety, efficiency, performance and comfort.

In another innovation, WABCO has introduced its next generation TX-TRAILERGUARD fleet management solution that combines the functionalities of its award-winning telematics solution with Transics International’s back office software platform helps commercial vehicle fleet operators improve their vehicle fleets’ safety and efficiency performance while reducing costs.

This is the first product integration to emerge from WABCO’s acquisition of the fleet management systems company Transics, a market leader in Europe, in February 2014. The innovative telematics solution integrates the comprehensive real-time data gathered from WABCO’s on-board advanced braking, stability control and efficiency systems with Transics’ back office software, TX-CONNECT, and its related suite of telematics systems. 

It enables effective truck, trailer, driver and cargo management in real time. Silcock says the launch demonstrates their commitment to the success of commercial vehicle fleets worldwide, marking the powerful integration of comprehensive real-time data gathered from WABCO’s on-board advanced braking, stability control and efficiency systems with Transics’ innovative telematics. This advanced trailer telematics solution offers fleet operators a rich source of data to enhance their fleet services, increase vehicle safety and efficiency, and help lower operational cost.


Last year WABCO also launched its distinctive OptiFlow SideWings airflow conductor. This product is ideally suited to refrigeration, curtain and box type trailer applications. Geared around streamlining new generation trailers to significantly reduce air resistance, the robustly constructed  SideWings are the most advanced airflow conductors on the market, featuring a unique aerodynamic shape designed to achieve reduced fuel consumption.

“The three main areas in trailer aerodynamics are the area between the truck and the trailer, the back of the trailer and its underside,” says Silcock. “At highway speeds, more than 50% of a truck’s energy consumption is needed for air resistance, while half of the air resistance of an articulated vehicle is caused by the trailer. Behind the tractor wheels and axles, the airflow moves towards the vehicle’s centre, providing a high angle of influence from the motion of air currents. The SideWings’ wing-shaped airflow conductor improves the trailer’s aerodynamics by capturing this angled airflow at the lower end of the tractor, creating a force in the driving direction and guiding it to the trailer along the rotating wheels.

“It entirely covers the sides of the trailer, including the wheels, and is specially contoured to optimise airflow around and behind the vehicle to reduce energy loss caused by aerodynamic drag. Their patented shape offers a real advantage over other systems on the market, generating a thrust that helps reduce fuel consumption by 1.5 litres per 100 km at high speed. This is considerably more effective than the performance of conventional trailer skirts.

“These savings are independent of whether the type of trailer is a tandem or tridem, the load capacity or tonnage of the trailer. They are also unaffected by driving style. Against the current price of diesel, an investment into SideWings can be expected to pay for itself within two years of installation.”

The system is compatible with any length and type of trailer, is manufactured using PDCPD (Polydicyclopentadiene) material which, despite being light and durable, offers ultra-resistance to impact. It is also easy to paint and environmentally friendly since it has the advantage of being a low-energy material in production, further reducing the lifetime carbon footprint of  SideWings.


WABCO’s award-winning, innovative OptiDrive system combines the comfort of an automated transmission with the efficiency of a manual transmission. It automates and optimises gear shifting in 5-16 speed manual transmissions for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles, freeing up drivers from gear-shifting and improving fuel economy by up to 5%. The modularity of this standardised system means it can easily be adapted to a wide range of transmission and commercial vehicle platforms to minimise time to market.

It also significantly reduces the total cost of ownership of a vehicle, since more accurately controlled shifting operations result in less wear among components. Compared with a manual transmission, OptiDrive requires less driver training as it further simplifies vehicle operation, resulting in increased driver awareness for traffic conditions and improved road safety.

Silcock concludes: “WABCO is constantly globalising by growing, leveraging and optimising its network of capabilities in manufacturing, sourcing and engineering. This translates into increased speed, safety, adaptability, quality and lower cost structures that benefit customers around the world and advance the transport industry.”

                                                                                                                                                                                 Staff reporter

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