Trailer brake servicing is safety critical, but service support can be patchy, leading to prolonged downtime. Earlier in the year, Knorr-Bremse launched a dedicated Trailer Expert Network of workshops with trailer expertise to address the problem. Account Manager, Ben Worby, explains the concept and how CVW trailer workshops can get involved.
Q. What’s different about the Expert Network for trailers and why is needed?
A. We aim to speed-up the response time to trailer off-road breakdowns and have a faster resolution of warranty claims by providing a nationwide network of specialists in trailer braking systems.
Despite OE trailer braking equipment and EBS system manufacturers spending considerable time in design, development, and testing to ensure in-service reliability and performance, unplanned component failures do happen. This is due to the tight design tolerances and demanding operating environment, so occasionally even premium products can fail prematurely before the warranty period has expired.
Any unplanned downtime of trucks or trailers is a major issue for fleets tasked with time-critical deliveries, so when a fault develops, they expect the vehicle back in operation in the shortest period of time. That requires the service agent to have the ability to diagnose, repair, or replace faulty components in rapid time.
Q. What causes delays to trailer warranty repair claims?
A. With warranty faults on trucks, operators can usually rely on the OE vehicle manufacturer and a well-established, national service network to deal with any unplanned breakdowns.
In the UK, however, trailer manufacturers expect the OE braking system supplier to take responsibility for managing any potential warranty-related breakdown, including attending the faulty trailer and repairing it. This can lead to delays in repairing the trailer.
System suppliers to the OE trailer builders provide service support via approved independent agents, rather than through their own dedicated service support network. Currently, we believe the number of trailer braking experts is limited, thus the service coverage around the UK can be quite patchy.
This is partly because modern trailers have ever-increasing functionality and complexity, including EBS and auxiliary functions such as tyre-pressure monitoring systems and reversing cameras, requiring greater expertise from technicians.
Long-term, the level of expertise required for trailer braking systems will grow even more with more advanced driver-assist systems and greater integration between tractor-trailers. This requires greater collaboration between the OE brake system supplier and trailer fleet support providers.
Additional systems will result in more diagnostic information becoming available, which in turn will require service technicians to update their skills and become experts in a wider portfolio of components.
Q. How will the Trailer Expert Network address these issues?
A. Fleets are entitled to expect support from professional service agents for the safe correction of any trailer faults. Knorr-Bremse will provide a comprehensive network of fully trained technical and support services across the UK for both fleets and OE trailer manufacturers.
The company is revamping the current service network to offer a harmonised quality standard across all its European workshops. Brake system service agents will ensure that replacement parts are available and that technicians have the up-to-date diagnostic software, tools, and knowledge to provide the highest quality and efficient service. There will be a full list of approved Expert Network Partners on the Knorr-Bremse website.
Q. How will fleets benefit?
A. The network will result in a faster response to, and resolution of, any braking system-related warranty claims – sometimes fleets are unsure whether a component failure is covered by warranty or not, and resolving this issue can delay the repair whilst it awaits assessment.
Under the Expert Network, delays for warranty claims will be reduced to the minimum: fleets will be able to contact an Expert partner to assess the claim, rather than wait for a central response. Partner workshops will be given a recommended parts list to ensure repairs are not delayed whilst awaiting parts.
Q. How will standards be assured?
A. Full training and ongoing support will be provided by Knorr-Bremse, with continual reviews and two-way feedback to ensure a high standard of workmanship and that customer care is maintained.
Applying to become a Trailer Expert partner
Knorr-Bremse is now recruiting workshops with trailer expertise for the new network.
It plans to roll out the network during 2020. Knorr-Bremse is discussing details with a cross section of service providers to understand what level of support they need from Knorr-Bremse to reach the level of expertise required. CVW workshops who would like to be considered should email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Membership to the Trailer Expert Network is free, but there is a cost associated with the required service tools.
Updates on new products, software updates, and tools will be provided regularly to partners, who will also be able to access a dedicated, free-of-charge technical support hotline. Technicians will be provided with the latest Knorr-Bremse training packages, which can be conducted on-site.