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Bendix Details Product Updates, Pathway Forward


A lot has changed in the industry since Mike Hawthorne joined Bendix as president 16 months ago with plenty of emerging trends, he said.

Hawthorne identified four key trends Bendix is seeing before turning the company's morning press conference at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta over to his key lieutenants to detail new products and updates to existing products. The four areas that are driving Bendix's future are:

  1. Energy efficiency
  2. Highly automated driving
  3. E-mobility
  4. Lower total cost of ownership (TCO)

The electrification of freight transport and development of autonomous vehicles are key factors in each of these four areas, and TCO is an especially critical focal point around electric vehicles. The emphasis on TCO sets electric commercial vehicles apart from electric passenger cars, where buyers typically follow a different set of buying criteria, such as environmental concerns, Bendix said. Commercial vehicle buyers think about the whole cost of ownership – how much the initial vehicle is going to cost, what is the cost per mile to run, what's the residual value, and what are the maintenance considerations.

That theme permeated discussions as Bendix's experts walked through some new products and updates to existing products.

Electronic braking systems (EBS) dominated a large portion of the program, including the question-and-answer session that followed the formal press conference. TJ Thomas, director of marketing and customer solutions-Controls division, said that EBS will likely become standard on many applications in America in the next three to five years.

It doesn't change the fundamentals to braking pneumatic systems, he said, but they serve as a redundant system in case of electrical failure.

Kevin Romanchok, director of e-mobility new business development for Bendix, noted that trucking started with electric vehicles in the early 1900s, and now it is heading back in that direction. He spoke of the influence electrification is having on brakes and EBS, which are already in limited use with some bus manufacturers in North America, and how it will impact "all of our control systems" in the future.

"I've been with Bendix almost 20 years and I've been a part of several [product] launches, and I would say that over the next couple of years, this is going to be [result in] the biggest changes in our part of the [Bendix] world."

On EBS, Romanchok noted that he too sees the braking system gaining acceptance in the next few years.

"It's ready to go," he said. "We've seen a couple of introductions, trials in the U.S., but it hasn't caught on yet, but with electrification, we think the time [has arrived]."

Air Disc Brake Adoption

Bendix, which has now deployed more than 3 million air disc brakes in North America, said adoption rates for ADB could approach 35% in 2020, this as it also suggests EBS will start to grow in popularity.

Earlier this year, Bendix added a new adjustment mechanism to its ADB22X to reduce vibration and improve the clearance between the friction and rotor. A thicker 2 millimeter pad, the BX276 pad, was also added. The new pad offers up to a 40% reduction in wear rate at higher temperatures than competitive models, the company noted.

Soon to be added is a sensor that connects with telematics systems, helping technicians monitor pad wear to proactively replace wearing pads.

"The evolution of the ADB22X continues as we aim to drive out costs, while offering the marketplace even more options and increased value," Keith McComsey, director of customer-solutions for wheel ends, said. "We'll optimize the ADB22X for certain market segments/applications – such as line haul, and pickup and delivery – and deliver to vehicle operators one of the lightest weight ADB brake assemblies on the market. OEMs and fleets are always looking for weight savings, and our optimized brake will help increase payload, improve fuel efficiency, and lower TCO."

Ground was broken in September on a 130,000-square-foot addition to the Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake wheel-end manufacturing facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Once completed in late 2020, the plant will add a third ADB production line, four ADB caliper machining centers, and expanded engineering test capability.

Trailer CAN Device

Bendix also announced a TT-CAN (Tractor-Trailer Controller Area Network) to the Bendix TABS-6 Advanced multichannel trailer roll stability system. It will be integrated into the TABS-6 system in early 2020. The Bendix TABS-6 Advanced trailer roll stability system combines antilock braking with sensors, which monitor stability and can quickly and automatically trigger braking interventions when conditions that may lead to a rollover are detected. The addition of the new controller will help better connect the trailer to the tractor and assist with the move to EBS.

Collaboration with Noregon

A new collaboration with Noregon will result in an advanced vehicle diagnostics solution for the North American commercial vehicle market. Under the agreement, Bendix and Noregon will work together to introduce and incorporate technology advancements to further enhance diagnostics for Bendix products in the marketplace.

"The rapid evolution of vehicle technology means the need for connectivity and information is more critical than ever," said Scott Burkhart, Bendix vice president – sales, marketing, and business development. "Offering effective, strongly integrated tools for technicians to help them repair vehicles faster is our goal. Our active collaboration is the result of two industry leaders focused on effective, integrated tools that can help increase productivity and efficiency."

Advancing Diagnostic Software

A new troubleshooting tool, the ACom Pro, will be introduced to help technicians cut repair time. Thomas said the device could save 20 minutes of time when diagnosing a problem truck.

"These are far more than just incremental improvements or software updates," Thomas said. "Through our collaboration with Noregon, we've crafted a much more streamlined, thorough, and user-friendly tool that's head-and-shoulders above previous versions. ACom Pro is simply the best way to ensure safe and effective diagnostics of Bendix electronic components and systems."

The original ACom diagnostics software launched in 2004. ACom Pro initially supports Bendix tractor products, including Bendix antilock braking (ABS), automatic traction control, (ATC), stability control, the family of Bendix Wingman advanced driver assistance systems, AutoVue Lane Departure Warning System, BlindSpotter side object detection system, SmarTire Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, air disc brake (ADB) pad wear sensing, and SafetyDirect by Bendix CVS.

New Wingman Features

New features to Bendix's popular Wingman Advanced safety system will be rolled out next year. All the features will be available at different times, depending on the truck manufacturer's schedule, Bendix said. The features include enhanced rear-end collision mitigation and stationary vehicle braking, along with multilane automatic emergency braking, highway departure braking, ACB (Active Cruise with Braking) Stop & Driver Go, and ACB Auto-Resume.

Additionally, over the next two years, features such as Traffic Jam Assist, Highway Assist, and Pedestrian/Cyclist Alerts, along with steering capabilities such as Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Centering will be added.

Air Dryer Technology Improves

The new Bendix AD-HF is the first major update to Bendix's air dryer in 15 years and represents the next evolution of full-function air dryer technology, the company said. Launching with several manufacturers in 2020, the AD-HF offers a two-piece high-strength aluminum casting that is over 7 pounds lighter than its predecessor – the AD-IS – which also facilitates remanufacturing in the future. It features an integrated purge volume reservoir, which eliminates the need for a steel tank, and is more corrosion-resistant to road treatments such as salt and chemicals, improving product life.

Bendix also engineered the casting for better flow characteristics, which increases the AD-HF's application capabilities through improved dryer air flow capacity, it said. Finally, the new casting has an increased number of porting locations with optimized port spacing to help reduce installation time.

Steering Group Growth

Finally, Bendix is strengthening and expanding it steering group. In the past year or so, the company or its parent company Knorr-Bremse have acquired several steering-focused businesses.

Last year, Bendix acquired the ProSteering business of JM Engineered Products, a Lebanon, Tennessee-based remanufacturer of all-makes power steering systems. In March 2019, Knorr-Bremse completed its acquisition of Hitachi Automotive Systems' commercial steering business, which included key components of steering gears and torque overlay steering, crucial elements in the future of driver assistance and highly automated driving solutions. Additionally, another Knorr-Bremse agreement brought the use of Sentient Blueprint Steering – in production use since 2013 – into the fold, providing Bendix with steering-related software to integrate camera input and power new ADAS functions.

Bendix continues to build out its own in-house team of experts.

"For more than eight decades, the Bendix name has been synonymous with air braking and vehicle safety," Thomas said. "Now, with the continued fusing of more vehicle technologies into our advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), it's a natural step to add steering to the Bendix portfolio and deepen our knowledge in that arena, since brakes and steering are the main ADAS actuators."

Bendix sees steering as critical to an autonomous driving future, and it supports everything Bendix touches with its products.

"Taken together, all of these efforts represent a major addition to what Bendix can offer vehicle manufacturers and customers, whether we're talking about systems including ADAS functionality steering, or components like OEM and aftermarket base steering gears," said Dustin Carpenter, Bendix product line director for Steering. "One example of this is Lane Centering on the next generation of the Bendix Wingman Fusioncollision mitigation system. Lane Keeping Assist, active return, and steering assist are also other functionalities that will be enhanced by the steering software's proven capability to do things like resist disturbances from the road and tires without compromising steering feel."

Bendix's torque overlay steering (TOS) technology will also be able to compensate for side winds, road crown, and be custom-tuned to a driver's desired steering feel. Bendix will be launching steering gear variants and torque overlay steering for Class 6-8 vehicles through North American OEMs over the next few years.

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