Commercial vehicle wheels firm takes hub safety issue to European parliament 04 February 2013

Motor Wheel Service Distribution has taken the issue of commercial vehicle wheel safety to the European Parliament.

Managing director John Ellis presented the company's findings to the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) during a public hearing into the Roadworthiness Package.

Acting in his capacity as director of the Northwest Automotive Alliance (NAA), Ellis presented an introduction to the issue of non circumferential hubs, and called for five measures – most importantly, light regulation of the supply chain to enforce existing standards and improved inspection.

He asked for wheels to be identified as a safety critical item, that all wheels and axles be tested to meet European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation (ETRTO) standards and that all wheels periodically undertake an industry-leading 10-point check plan.

Ellis also produced a booklet on wheel fatigue, which includes evidence from Wheels India that found non-circumferential hubs (which give only partial contact between axle and wheel) are causing untested load stresses, causing cracks and compromising half-life expectancy.

"There is a lack of knowledge in the commercial vehicle sector, which means wheels are not being replaced when they are fatigued – or, worse still, are being replaced with inferior products that have not been properly tested, and this includes both the wheel and the hub," says Ellis.

"This is compounded when OEMs find and address major issues, such as hub shape, but then fail to disseminate the information to the aftermarket," he continues.

"Specific wheels exist for non-circumferential hubs, but when this wheel is replaced or interchanged, if an identical wheel is not used we have an item that will start to crack and fatigue at under 50,000km and will stay in the supply chain."

A further meeting of the TRAN Committee is due to take place on 18 February 2013 to discuss the matter further, with the Roadworthiness Package Report due on 17 March 2013.

Brian Tinham

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