Intelligent braking for trailers

A Hamilton company has developed an intelligent electronic trailer braking system.

A Hamilton company has developed an intelligent electronic trailer braking system.

Edge International has developed a system that gives optimum control of trailers up to 3500kg. The system uses an electronic sensor fitted to the brake pedal of the tow vehicle.

When the driver steps on the brake pedal, data from the sensor is fed to an under-dash mini-computer, which converts it into a voltage signal.

The trademarked Sens-a-Brake uses compressed air as its energy source to produce an instant braking response in all driving situations.

Director Kane Murray says most other electro-hydraulic braking systems available do not operate a stored energy source. This means a time delay of up to four seconds before maximum braking pressure can be achieved, which is required in an emergency stop.

Murray says the increasing size and number of trailer boats spurred the brake system's development.

"Land Transport Safety Authority braking rules require all trailers with a gross vehicle mass of 2000kg or greater, to have a service brake that is applied automatically when the driver treads on his towing vehicle's brakes.

"They also require an independent, mechanical parking brake - and an emergency breakaway system that automatically applies the trailer brakes to stop and hold the trailer if it disconnects from the towing vehicle," he says.

Complying with those rules has, in the past, entailed using vacuum-operated systems, electric brakes or combined electric-hydraulic braking systems.

However, Murray says these systems have drawbacks, such as vacumn braking systems affecting the truck's ABS systems, electric brakes not being suitable where boats are towed from saltwater, and inertia-based systems not having sufficient deceleration to work properly.

"The Sens-a-Brake works no matter whether you are in a skid situation or reversing down the boat ramp," Murray says.

Edge International was set up to develop, manufacture and market the brake control system, which received funding support from Technology New Zealand's Technology for Business Growth scheme.

The company is affiliated to ES Plastics, a plastic manufacturing service employing 35 people.

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