PIT Group’s comprehensive market review of electromechanical brakes (EMBs) for commercial vehicles, namely Class 8 trucks, completed for the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of American Trucking Associations, reveals that the cost of a sufficiently safe, redundant and robust system, as well as the regulatory framework, are currently impeding the development and use of EMBs.
TMC released the report in Atlanta, Georgia in late February. FPInnovations’ PIT Group researched and evaluated a total of forty-three original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for EMB technology, of which, sixteen OEMs active in the trucking industry were contacted.
The report summarized that the predominance of electromechanical disc brakes may be due to the advantages inherent in disc brake technologies or due to the difficulty of integrating electromechanical drum brakes onto a standard wheel-end. The power requirements of EMBs does not appear to restrict them from being used on commercial vehicles with conventional powertrains.
“Fleet managers face many challenges in cost-effectively integrating new technologies on contemporary Class 8 trucks,” says Dave Waknin, a transportation researcher with FPInnovations. “Although EMBs can provide many benefits, having to maintain a pneumatic infrastructure for air suspension poses an additional hurdle because of the need to maintain dual pneumatic and electrical architectures.”
Despite the differences inherent in each OEM’s electromechanical braking system, they all claim to possess advantages over current pneumatic brakes, such as increased wheel-end diagnostics and reduced stopping distance.
Based on the research results, TMC will evaluate the opportunity to conduct a second phase of the project to test and compare EMBs to air braking systems, in an attempt to drive advanced safety technologies into the trucking industry.