Inoperable vehicle lighting attracts the wrong kind of attention

Inoperable truck lighting attracts the wrong kind of attention


Lamps and lighting

Brad Van Riper, chief technology officer for Truck-Lite, says “We believe in a systems approach, which means that the strength of your system is only as strong as the weakest link. All of these items we are going to talk about are interrelated. If you get a vehicle that has a good specification, and the product is installed properly, that is the best way to make sure that your vehicles will experience minimal problems.”

He adds, “make sure you locate lights to avoid physical damage. Now that we don’t have filaments in a lot of applications, physical damage has become the number one cause for lighting failure.”
Truck-Lite recommends making sure the product is being installed properly, the connectors being snapped in properly, etc. Is there enough wire leading up to each component in the system, but not too much? The company recommends that key suppliers have an opportunity to get involved in a pilot inspection at the manufacturer of the vehicle.

Van Riper goes on to say, “Supplier involvement is also key. Get your lighting and harness supplier involved early. This can save money as you’re developing a specification that is best for your needs. The supplier can often provide recommendations on standard practice in the industry that will yield better performance. Convert your existing specifications and equipment to LED from reputable suppliers, like Truck-Lite. Potting is an important component in an LED light; make sure your lights are potted to extend their life.”

Sealed wiring harnesses that are designed to be compatible with the lighting system are also important. This will ensure that the system is the most robust—getting these from the same manufacturer as your lighting supplier is also a good way to get the best possible warranty. Assure adequate power supply to your lighting products. One of the ways to do that is to specify TMC RP137, which creates a benchmark for the voltage and current carrying capacity of the product and system.

Maintain maximum illumination

While most fleets are adopting LED exterior lights, even they can be susceptible to diminished illumination due to overheating, corrosion intrusion or cracked lens. It’s best to buy the “best” so drivers can be confident that their trailer lights remain well lit throughout a trip. Phillips recommends LED lights that operate at the coolest possible temperatures, fully encapsulated electronics and premier impact strength.

According to Rob Phillips, president of Phillips, “When we decided to add exterior lights to the Phillips product line, we expressly wanted a product that would last longer from a safety aspect as well as addressing the negative impact that poor working lights have on fleet and driver CSA scores.” Phillips Industries has partnered with Innotec to offer Permalite XT lighting with Boardfree technology, which offers a cure for the most common failures. In addition, a strong connection at the pigtails keeps lights from flickering and going out due to road vibration that can cause a loose connection over time. A strong connection also keeps out contaminants that will affect the proper operation of the lights. All Phillips pigtails are genuine AMP connectors with a latch clip to keep the connector securely in place, and a yellow silicone seal at the front of the plug to help keep moisture and contaminants.

Any moisture or contaminant that enters the trailer wiring at the connections, or at the area surrounding the light itself, will cause a failure that will ultimately result in CSA points being assessed. Phillips goes on to say, “Eliminating corrosion is a key product development task because we hear from fleets that it costs them money, so it’s a way we can help. We’re testing our products all the time with that in mind.” Phillips trailer harness pigtail products are all sealed for additional protection to keep out moisture and contaminants.

peterson defender system
The Peterson defender system.

Trend toward premium products

Mark Assenmacher director of marketing for Peterson Lighting, reports, “In a recent conversation with a representative from ATA, we heard that many fleets are doing well keeping CSA scores under control. We have noticed that fleets are trending toward purchasing more premium products with higher reliability to avoid citations. These fleets have discovered that paying a higher upfront cost actually saves them money in the long run. They are also discovering that higher quality products are easier to maintain.”

Tim Gilbert, director of heavy-duty sales at Peterson, adds, “Fleets appreciate a total solution that includes premium lamps and harnesses as a totally sealed system, like our modular Defender system, which has now successfully logged over six billion miles on the road. When coupled with our LumenX LED lamps with AMP-compatible connectors, comes with a 10-year warranty against corrosion.

Assenmacher adds, “It is common knowledge that lighting failures are the number cause of ‘pull-overs’ for CSA violations, primarily because they are the easiest to detect as trucks are moving down the road. Once a vehicle is pulled over for inspection other problems can be detected, which adds to the violation infractions. The bottom line is that fleets want systems that don’t fail.” Purchasing quality systems are one of the best ways to avoid CSA citations.

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