Making brakes safe again

Making brakes safe again

BrakeSafe, Vision Techniques’ handbrake failsafe system, is said to prevent vehicle rollaway once and for all. As one of the company’s customers, Flogas describes how it came around to implementing the BrakeSafe system across the whole of its 400-strong fleet.

Flogas is a supplier of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). It has been providing alternative energy solutions to domestic and commercial customers in the UK for over 30 years, covering the whole of the UK from a network of 53 depots and a fleet of over 400 vehicles plus 130 additional trailers. Ensuring the safety of its drivers and customers is the company’s primary focus. Implementation, communication and understanding of new technologies and strategies is critical, however it can be challenging.

Paul Shores, Tanker Maintenance Manager at Flogas, said, “We do rely on drivers to assist in looking after our vehicles. Maintenance is more than producing planners and arranging garages. It’s about keeping our drivers and vehicles compliant and as safe as possible. We do everything we can when it comes to vehicle safety, but there are instances like vehicle rollaways that we have not had any control over, until now.

“If any operator tells me that they don’t have an issue with rollaways, I wouldn’t believe them. It’s not the sort of thing a driver would tell us about or admit to. We know as a business it can occur and the potential is there. With the working day a driver has and the interruptions operators have, having a product there to safeguard our business against that potential was essential.”

Flogas had investigated a number of visual and audible alerts, but as alternative products required the input of the driver, they weren’t considered to offer a high enough level of protection. The company also looked at various braking systems similar to BrakeSafe, but Vision Techniques’ system was deemed the most suitable.

Making brakes safe again

On BrakeSafe, Paul commented, “It gives us a report of when and where the system has been activated. It uses a range of sensors that means that any false activation of the system is highly unlikely. So, in terms of its safe operation on a day-to-day basis, there really wasn’t anything that came close; it suited our needs perfectly.”

Vision Techniques goes to great effort to work in partnership with its customers and Paul praised the company’s support, “The technical support has been great. They’ve looked at the fleet profile and found no issues in fitting BrakeSafe. We’ve been able to create a link between BrakeSafe and our in-house camera system. If BrakeSafe triggers from a rollaway incident, a small piece of video footage is saved.”

This footage can be reviewed, offering businesses the ability to monitor driver behaviour and understand what they were doing at the time. More importantly, it can provide visibility of any incident and its surrounding circumstances. This information can be used as a method for driver training or improving safety procedures to prevent it from happening again.

Flogas wanted to trial BrakeSafe on one of its vehicles before taking the decision to rollout the product across the whole fleet. Vision Techniques worked closely with Flogas on specification and trialling, which allowed the latter to experience the benefits of BrakeSafe by using the kit in real life scenarios. Discussing the installation, Paul commented, “The whole process was important to us. We needed to see how BrakeSafe would integrate with other systems fitted to our tankers. We have some elaborate interlock systems on them and equipment that can have no interruptions; it has to operate the same every time and not alter the performance of any of the systems on the vehicle.

“The trial was successful, and the proof of concept was almost faultless, there was no risk to us, financially or to the vehicles. We trialled BrakeSafe, and it was very well received, especially in the health and safety department, but also at higher levels of management in the business. From that, the decision to install further systems to our vehicles was a very quick decision for us to make.

“Steve Smith and the team from Vision Techniques went away to arrange installs and started that process without any real input from me. I left it to them and knew it would be done properly. The trial process was a fairly lengthy operation due to the kit being installed on a variety of different types of vehicles, but the level of care taken to fit that was superb.”

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