Auto brake skimming saves thousands08 March 2010
Northumberland County Council charge hand Steve Gray reports "significant savings", in terms of brake discs and associated items, as well as labour, since buying an on-truck brake lathe. He also claims that the council has increased its first-time MOT pass rates for all relevant fleet vehicles, and that it is saving the environment by re-using existing discs, rather than buying new.
Gray explains that he originally specified the equipment to solve problems with corroded and warped discs, primarily on gritters left standing between winter seasons. Given the severity of salt exposure, the council was having to replace discs at a cost of £600 for 4x2s and £900 for 6x4s, for the discs alone. Add in pad sets, as well as labour and making good seal damage incurred when the hubs were extracted, and every truck was costing a lot of money.
Having seen Pro-Cut Europe's brake lathe at the CV Show, he was convinced that he could change all that. "The machine cost about £7,500, but I could see we would save that on half a dozen wagons not needing new discs," he says.
And so it turned out: "We use the lathe to skim the discs on every single truck in the fleet now, and our brake lock-out efficiency rates are now 65—70%, which is 15% more than VOSA wants for service brakes. And, although our gritters don't need MOTs, none of them performs below that on the brake tester. The machine is definitely worth the money: it minimises downtime for the vehicles and also decreases the potential for injury to technicians," he insists.
Gray makes the point that truck calipers are heavy, so not having to disassemble the hubs is a significant benefit on its own – but it also saves time and eliminates risk of damage to bearings and seals. With the truck wheel off, the adaptor simply bolts directly onto the hub, he explains, and the lathe then connects to the adaptor. That runs automatically, taking about 20 minutes to complete a skim, while the technician works on the other side. "The hardest bit now is removing the wheel. So a technician can complete an axle in an hour."
He also mentions other savings – for example, machined discs provide a true surface, so brake pads routinely give 80,000 miles life, instead of wearing unevenly on old discs. That means more time and distance between pad changes. And then there are those MOT pass rates. "The lock-out performance we get for brakes after skimming is always higher than VOSA specifies, because skimmed discs perform as well as new discs."
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