MATS: Bendix adds Wingman; preps for bigger drum brake market

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Five years after Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems first introduced its ESP Electronic Stability Program (ESP), the company has added a wingman.

The Bendix WingmanT ACB (active cruise with braking) is an innovative technology that delivers warnings and proactive interventions to help drivers avoid collisions and provides data to help with fleet operations and driver training.

Using a radar sensor mounted to the front of the vehicle — and building on Bendix ESP full stability technology — the system assists the driver to maintain a set following distance (customized by the fleet) between their truck and the forward vehicle.

With cruise control on and speed set, Bendix ACB will warn and provide active interventions, which include reducing throttle, engaging the engine retarder and, if necessary, automatically applying the foundation brakes to help the driver maintain the intended following distance.

When cruise control is not engaged, the driver still gets the benefit of following distance alerts to let them know if they are getting too close to the forward vehicle.

"It’s all about helping fleets avoid crashes," said Joe McAleese, Bendix president and CEO. "Bendix is building on its commitment to delivering strong, cost effective, active safety solutions that have a real impact for fleets – from the cost, revenue, profit and safety performance perspectives. As we work to address the modern safety needs of commercial vehicles, their drivers, and the motorists with whom they share the roadways, we will continue our leadership role in active safety innovations."

The importance of good drivers is still critical to a fleet’s entire safety equation and should not be underestimated with the advent of active safety technologies like Bendix ESP and Bendix WingmanT ACB, notes the manufacturer.

Bendix Wingman ACB is available for fleets to order, with vehicle delivery expected in early July this year.

The ESP system itself is continuing to make inroads in the commercial market. Even during a year of financial uncertainty and declining truck build, more than 26,000 Bendix ESP units were sold in 2008 — a 40 percent increase when compared with the previous year.

Sales of Bendix ESP were on the rise at all current Bendix stability OEMs, which include International, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Mack, and Volvo. By year end, more than 66,000 commercial vehicles were outfitted with the Bendix ESP full stability system.

"More and more fleets are recognizing full-stability technology as a valuable option for helping mitigate accidents and improve their safety records," said Kevin Romanchok, Bendix product line director for electronics. "The answer to the question of full-stability versus roll-only options is becoming much clearer to the industry. There’s just no comparison in terms of the added protection full-stability technology can provide."


In anticipation of new stopping distance requirements, Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake will launch its new high-performance drum brakes by the end of 2009.

Bendix expects the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to announce its new stopping distance requirements for large trucks in May 2009.

The company plans to introduce a new, high-performance model of its Single Anchor Pin, Extended Service drum brakes (in a variety of sizes) for both steer- and drive-axle applications. The launch is slated for the third quarter of 2009 to fleets interested in conducting field-testing on the componentry well in advance of the effective date of the proposed stopping distance rules.

The introduction is the culmination of extensive development efforts, including nearly five years of engineering, design, and testing in anticipation of NHTSA’s new requirements.

"Vehicle manufacturers and fleets will have the opportunity to make purchase decisions based upon their own needs and preferences," said Aaron Schwass, director for the foundation brake group at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake. "We are working to develop variations of the high-performance drum brakes that will custom-fit various truck model

The high-performance drum brake technology will be in production in time for the effective date of the new requirement, which is currently expected for May 2011.

NHTSA announced its proposed rulemaking on Dec. 15, 2005. In its proposal, NHTSA calls for a 20- to 30-percent reduction in the required stopping distance for large trucks.

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