Saturday 27 February 2021

Continental develops digital load monitoring

Recent developments by vehicle technology giant Continental include a new On Board Weighing System (OBWS) said to offer a high-performance, reliable means of recording and displaying the weight of commercial vehicles, including trailers and semitrailers.

The digital, sensor-based load monitoring process can be completed before starting a trip, independent of a stationary scale. Further functions make it possible to increase efficiency far beyond the specifications of EU Directive 2015/719, says Continental, which will come into effect in May 2021.

The directive requires EU member states to measure the gross vehicle weight of commercial vehicles more frequently.

The intention of the measurements as required by the directive is to protect infrastructure and reduce the impact on the environment. Overloaded trucks not only pose an increased traffic risk,Continental points out, but also wear out roads and bridges. This results in maintenance costs and endangers safety on the roads due to the damage caused.

At the same time, regular vehicle measurements are intended to ensure fairer competition by requiring all forwarding agents to comply with the prescribed maximum loads.

In order to plan accordingly and prevent sanctions, drivers and fleet operators must know the load condition of a vehicle before starting a trip. Previously this has been challenging, the firm says, particularly for vehicles for which the semitrailer is usually provided by the forwarder.

In order to meet the new requirements, most EU countries are currently relying primarily on a stationary solution. However, the OBWS offers added value that goes beyond the regulatory stipulations, says Continental.

“Even if the load is measured by sensors in the road in the future, the integrated solution will remain interesting for forwarding agents, fleet managers and drivers,” said Marc Leinemann, a technical project manager at Continental involved in the development of the OBWS.

Even before a truck drives off, fleet operators and drivers can check whether the weight of the vehicle is within a safe range. Systems that determine the vehicle weight only after the start of the trip do not offer this advantage, Continental points out.

If the weight can be determined before a trip, vehicles can be loaded more efficiently and safely as well. This reduces empty runs.

The data provided also makes preventive maintenance possible, the company adds; and in addition, it can serve as a basis for new business models, for example with load-dependent transport tariffs.

The OBWS records and displays the weight of commercial vehicles before starting a trip and enables further functions. The data is displayed via app on the driver’s smartphone, on a display in the driver’s cab or in the fleet manager’s office.

Since requirements of fleets vary, with mixed fleets consisting of vehicles with different suspensions, the team at Continental has developed various OBW solutions that take the respective customer requirements into consideration.

Chassis with air suspension are well suited for constantly determining the load condition of all individual axles. Continental also has tailor-made solutions for chassis with steel suspension.

For example, the company has developed a sensor for vehicles with air suspension, which uses ultrasound to measure the height and pressure of air springs in order to determine the axle’s load condition.

On the same basis, a height sensor has been developed for shock absorbers for vehicles without air suspension. The suspension travel of the shock absorber provides information on the load condition of the respective axle.

The strain sensor from Continental is also suitable for both steel and air-sprung axles. It measures the strain of the axle body and thus enables the load to be calculated. The sum of the axle loads results in the vehicle weight including the load.

In all four cases, the data gathered is collected, forwarded and evaluated, and the results are finally displayed via the app on the driver’s smartphone or on a display in the driver’s cab. Fleet managers can also retrieve the data and optimise the utilisation of their fleets.

Continental offers all products and services as a complete system from a single source – from the air spring to the sensor, through to data processing and software applications.

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