Semi-trailer: technology for safety
- 5 min
EPISODE #1: SEMI-TRAILER SERIES – To guarantee the security of goods when they are being transported various technology is now required, particularly when goods are moved by semi-trailers. Lighting, tyres, doors, etc. Let’s take a look at all the technological subtleties for enhanced safety.
“It regularly happens that handlers end up inside the semi-trailers themselves and the truck driver leaves without being aware of it!” Olivier Dutrech, Director of Innovation and Fraikin Business Solutions
Video: the essential tool for prevention
Nowadays, video plays a major role in security, and semi-trailers are no exception to this innovation. Several cameras are therefore strategically placed inside and outside the trailer.
Inside the box, the cameras ensure that there is complete visibility, and they can also be used to check the filling level of the trailer. In this way, operators can ensure that their goods are properly secured and that maximum optimisation is achieved. Full loads are more and more essential for profitability. Goods that are using the floor space well but not the height: can benefit from an intermediate bridge can be installed halfway up the body so that a further floor can be created and the goods can be stored twice. However, care must be taken to ensure that the weight of the crate does not exceed the permitted limit.
On the outside, the cameras provide a global view of the truck’s place in the road ecosystem. “Bird’s-eye view” or “360°” systems allow the driver to have a view from above of the road system. To do this, the cameras are positioned at the rear above the doors, or at the level of the number plate, and laterally with a camera on each side of the semi,” explains Olivier Dutrech.
An active reversing radar is also recommended for the safety of all. This active radar is connected to the braking system. “If it detects a presence or an obstacle, it instantly controls its speed in reverse, or even stops the semi-trailer completely if necessary.”
Light: a major safety issue, especially at night
In addition to cameras, light signals play an extremely important role. Light signals at night remain a real means of safety communication.
Scroll bars can be installed on either side of the box to alert road users, for example, that a truck is being loaded or unloaded and that they should move over. These light spots work in correlation and light up one after the other, in a rapid manner, so as to be highly visible.
Sometimes accidents happen simply because the loading/unloading area is not well defined. To remedy this, an innovation consisting of a laser is installed at the rear of the body or at the tailgate. When switched on, this laser projector draws a luminous rectangle on the ground, which makes the area safe.
Geolocation spearheads security for high-value goods
Whether it is called geofencing or corridoring, this geolocation functionality of the semi-trailer secures the transfer of luxury goods or high-tech equipment. “As long as the trailer is not in a predefined geographical area, it will be impossible to open the doors! The opening zones are defined beforehand and connected to a GPS, which is itself connected to the door lock. The driver alone cannot decide to open the doors and the equipment is therefore safe even in the event of a hold-up,” comments Olivier Dutrech.
Geolocation has a real role to play on semi-trailers because although it may seem surprising, one semi-trailer can easily be mistaken for another and hitched by mistake. Often parked in huge loading areas, unintentional swapping of trailers regularly occurs.
Anticipating punctures with connected tyres
The TPMS – Tyre Pressure Monitoring System – is a group of technologies associated with tyres that allow puncture problems to be remedied.
Re-inflating your tyres while driving is possible! A valve positioned on the tyre is topped by a plug connected to a pump which regularly measures the tyre pressure. If necessary, the tyres can be inflated automatically, while driving or when stationary.
Alternatively, a sensor placed around the rim also measures the temperature of the rim. By measuring the rim temperature and tyre pressure, the consequences of a puncture can be avoided or, in the case of a slow puncture, anticipated.
Multiplexing or how to make a driver’s life easier and reduce the risk of accidents
In order to optimise the various actions to be carried out by the driver, multiplexing can be used. This technique consists of connecting different electrical or electronic equipment in a vehicle so that they work together in a coordinated manner.
“For example, it is possible to program that when the handbrake is released, all the lights in the car come on. Or to raise the door when the tailgate is opened. This not only optimises safety, but also saves the driver time in his actions,” says Olivier Dutrech, Director of Innovation and Fraikin Business Solutions.
Fuel theft: preventing dangers with a connected alarm
According to the Fédération Nationale des Transporteurs Routiers (FNTR ), more than 20 million litres of fuel are stolen every year. The fuel tank of a transport vehicle therefore requires special attention.
In addition to anti-siphoning valves, several technologies can be used to equip the vehicle against fuel theft. To guard against danger and scare off criminals, it is possible to install a sensor system on the truck linked to an alarm, which is itself connected to a smartphone, which warns instantly in the event of an abnormal drop in fuel.
The safety of a vehicle depends on the understanding of all potential dangers. Technology is therefore being developed and used to cover all the points that pose a threat to the safety of the driver, handlers, road users or the goods stored in the semi-trailer. We are seeing ever more effective advances in lighting, video, trailer location, doors, tyres and even fuel.
To go further: Stay tuned to semi-trailer innovations! Our series continues: Soon the next two episodes, dedicated to aerodynamics (#2) and the cooling unit. (#3)