Page 25 - Commercial Vehicle Engineer - September 2021
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Timing
As mentioned, wheel misalignment can
be a hidden problem as it doesn’t always affect a vehicle’s handling. Therefore, it is recommended to regularly check the wheel alignment of trucks, although as Mendoza explains, how regularly depends on what the truck does.
“If the truck is doing intercontinental driving the timescale between wheel alignment checks will come down to weeks rather than months,” he says. “If you’re driving a bus [in urban areas] and bouncing off the curbs quite a lot then you will be checking the alignment a lot more than if you are driving up and down a motorway. But on average, about once a quarter is sufficient for a check.”
Clive Seabrook, CEO of Pro-Align,
adds that tests take just a few minutes
to complete but they give the operator a clear report showing where there is/isn’t misalignment. “This gives clear direction to where the truck needs to be adjusted
to ensure it is aligned and there is a clear record of that process having taken place,” he says. “In terms of health and safety and any matter of operational efficiency, that record is there in relation to any tractor or trailer unit.”
In-house investment
In terms of what equipment should be used to check wheel alignment, operators generally have the choice to invest in their own equipment or book in a mobile service.
Seabrook says that operators should invest in their own system, along with training and orientation for key staff in an organisation to be able to carry out
the alignment.
“There are a couple of reasons for this:
it is about building the awareness within organisations about how important this
is from a cost perspective and from health and safety perspective,” he explains. “If you are driving a truck that is badly misaligned there is evidence to show it increases driver fatigue. On that basis we believe there are good commercial reasons to be testing the alignment on a regular basis
A misalignment of just one degree can cause significant problems
“If you are driving a truck that is badly misaligned there is evidence to show it increases driver fatigue”
WHEEL ALIGNMENT
       and, if your fleet is big enough, in house is the most efficient way to do this.
“Other systems may miss is the relationship between the tractor and trailer. If you have your own in-house system in the workshop, it is relatively easy to carry out the alignment on both the tractor and trailer. In some cases, mobile units can just do the tractor unit, which sorts out that out, but the trailer could still be misaligned and you’ be scrubbing the wheels on the trailer.
“We would advocate that an in-house system, in the long run, is financially the more viable solution.”
Mendoza adds that a lot of operators do check sheets, so if the driver says the
truck is pulling all the time, if they have an in-house system can take the doubt away quickly. “Some haulage firms will take
a truck off the road until the problem is rectified due to health and safety so if they have an in-house system, it can be done straightaway, rather than waiting for, say, a week for someone to come in and do it.”
However, once a misalignment problem has been identified, it is often an easy job to rectify. “If you have a capable workshop guy, he can adjust a tyre or the suspension,” Mendoza says. “With most trucks it is the steering axle that does it and that takes about 20-25 minutes to get it fixed, unless it’s an old dog that’s seized up, then it takes longer.”
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