SCHUSTER COMPANY DELIVERS SAFETY AND SWEET TREATS FROM THE “ICE CREAM CAPITAL OF THE WORLD”
Iowa-Based Carrier Specs Bendix Safety Systems, Moving toward Fleetwide Collision Mitigation Technology
ELYRIA, Ohio – Oct. 11, 2018 – You can point to several things that make Schuster trucking special, from its deep-frozen hauling specialization and home base in the “Ice Cream Capital of the World” to its 62-year history as a family-owned company. But ask Keith Lamfers what he wants people to think of first when they see a Schuster truck on the road, and you’ll get a three-word answer: “A safe fleet.”
Running 450 tractors and more than 800 trailers across the lower 48 U.S. states and parts of Canada from its headquarters in Le Mars, Iowa, Schuster never stops working toward that goal. It has earned safety award recognition from Great West Casualty Company and the Iowa Motor Truck Association. And since 2016, the company has added more than 200 trucks to its fleet equipped with Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™, Bendix® ADB22X™ air disc brakes, and connected to the SafetyDirect® by Bendix CVS web portal – with a goal of all three being in use fleetwide over the next two years.
“I started driving a truck when I was in college, and my father and grandfather were both truck drivers,” said Lamfers, who has been at Schuster for 10 years and spent the last six and a half as the fleet’s director of safety and compliance. “After I got behind the wheel during one of the Bendix Wingman Fusion demos, I had 100 percent faith in the system and its value in supporting Schuster’s commitment to delivering safe service everywhere we go.”
About half of Schuster’s tractors are currently equipped with Wingman® Fusion™, Bendix® ADB22X™ air disc brakes, and linked to SafetyDirect® by Bendix CVS. Most of the power units are Navistar International models. The company began spec’ing air disc brakes on all axles in 2016.
Change, Ice Cream – and Constants
In 1956, Orville Schuster named his company after the cargo he transported in his single-truck operation around Sioux City, Iowa: Schuster Grain. As the fleet grew to include refrigerated and dry van services, the name changed to reflect its wider offerings. Today, roughly half the company’s hauling involves ice cream delivered by reefer trailers that keep the sweet stuff at a brisk -20 degrees Fahrenheit – business driven by Le Mars’ status as home to the largest single-location ice cream manufacturing operation on the planet. And throughout its six decades of growth and evolution, Schuster has maintained and built upon a few key principles, including roadway safety and supporting its drivers.
“Schuster’s dedication to safety, efficiency, and dependability is at the heart of all our decisions,” Lamfers said. “That means making sure our drivers have every advantage they can get when they’re behind the wheel. For instance: None of our over-the-road trucks are older than model year 2016, in large part because vehicle safety has advanced so rapidly in recent years, and we want that technology to help our men and women in the cab.”
Three years ago, Lamfers notes, the fleet experienced three rear-end collisions and two rollovers. After looking into those incidents, he came to realize that Bendix Wingman Fusion could likely have prevented or reduced the severity of four of those five accidents.
“We’d been considering equipping event recorders, but those can only show you what happened after the fact,” Lamfers said. “When we experienced this system – and especially how it can help on snow and ice – we saw an opportunity to take an important step forward in our fleet safety efforts.”
Bendix Wingman Fusion gathers input through radar, video, and the vehicle’s braking system, combining and cross-checking the information to create a highly detailed and accurate data picture. With the sensors working together and not just in parallel, Fusion delivers enhanced rear-end collision mitigation, and adaptive cruise control, along with following distance alerts, stationary object alerts, lane departure warning, alerts when speeding, and braking on stationary vehicles – all while prioritizing alerts to help reduce driver distraction.
The forward-facing camera of Wingman Fusion is powered by the Mobileye System-on-Chip EyeQ processor with state-of-the-art vision algorithms.
“The idea is not for drivers to be dependent on the technology. They’re still expected to go out there and do things right – but the system is there to back you up, for those situations beyond a driver’s control,” Lamfers said. “The first time somebody cuts you off and Wingman® lends a hand, you become a believer real quick.”
To help maximize their investment in integrated safety solutions, Schuster trucking equips Bendix® ADB22X™ air disc brakes, which provide shorter stopping distances compared to drum brakes while virtually eliminating brake fade and delivering greater reliability with more consistent stops. Drum brakes can fade during heavy stop-and-go traffic situations or during mountain descents, and can extend stopping distances as they heat up. Air disc brakes also provide improved brake stability from side to side, reducing the risk of brake steer and providing a car-like feel for straighter, more stable stops.
“All-axle air disc brakes are something our drivers enjoy – that impressive stopping distance while staying smooth is a big factor – and they also bring benefits off the road, since pad changes take less time and the friction lasts longer,” Lamfers said.
Air disc brakes also include an internal self-adjustment mechanism that can help lower the risk of brakes being found out of adjustment during inspection, which can affect Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring.
Since launching the ADB22X in 2005, Bendix has produced well over 2 million units, reflecting an ever-increasing demand for air disc brakes in the commercial vehicle industry. Worldwide, Bendix and its parent company, Knorr-Bremse, are the clear global leader in air disc brake production at over 40 million and counting.
Supporting Driver Safety
No matter how advanced the system, there’s no commercial vehicle safety technology that can replace a skilled, alert driver exercising safe driving techniques and supported by proactive, comprehensive driver training. Both Bendix and Schuster emphasize that today’s active safety technologies aren’t meant to enable or encourage aggressive driving, but to support safe driving practices. Responsibility for the safe operation of any commercial vehicle remains with the driver at all times.
Schuster uses SafetyDirect® to help bolster its driver training efforts. Linking to a range of onboard safety technologies, including Wingman Fusion™, SafetyDirect wirelessly and automatically transmits real-time driver performance data and event-based information – including video – to fleet offices for analysis. The tool provides a wealth of knowledge that can further help fleet managers and drivers strengthen safety.
“We’ve found SafetyDirect® to be extremely valuable for driver training, in both individual reviews and to open dialogues in our driver meetings,” Lamfers said. “And on more than one occasion, the system has provided post-incident data showing that our drivers weren’t at fault in situations that they might have been blamed for in the past.”
Schuster trucking rewards its drivers with quarterly and annual safe-driving bonuses, with the company’s annual Driver of the Year earning the prize of a new truck, which they get to spec with company President Steve Schuster, son of founder Orville Schuster. “I have an open-door policy – the drivers know they can walk into my office anytime,” Lamfers said. “Safety really does start at the top of our company, and we consider our drivers part of the family.”
“At Schuster, safety is a bedrock principle; it’s engrained throughout their operations because of the real-world impacts on their drivers, customers, and everyone they encounter on the roads,” said Lance Hansen, Bendix North America regional vice president – fleet/trailer sales & service engineering. “This kind of deep commitment and passion is one reason that the Bendix team works so well with them. Partnering with solid fleets like Schuster is just one way of how we are helping to shape tomorrow’s transportation – together.”
Through its ever-growing portfolio of technology developments and unmatched post-sales support, Bendix delivers on areas critical to fleets’ success: safety, vehicle performance, and efficiency. By lowering the total cost of vehicle ownership, Bendix helps strengthen return on investment in equipment and technology that enhance safety for everyone sharing the roads of North America.
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