Tulsa Flatbed Fleet Supports Drivers with Bendix’s Flagship Driver Assistance System
ELYRIA, Ohio – Jan. 17, 2019 – Melton Truck Lines sets itself apart in a wide range of ways on and off the road: The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based flatbed hauler has been recognized with awards for everything from its employee wellness programs to innovation, sustainability efforts, workplace excellence, and fleet safety.
“We’ve been in the trucking business for 65 years – and every day we’ve stressed striving for greatness in all aspects of what we do,” said Robert Ragan, Melton executive vice president and chief financial officer. “That includes employing top-notch drivers and putting them behind the wheel of trucks that deliver safety while they’re delivering cargo.”
By the end of this year, 600 trucks in Melton’s 1,300-tractor fleet will be on the road with Bendix Wingman Fusion – the flagship collision mitigation technology of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC – which Melton has spec’ed on its Kenworth T680s since 2016. The power units also feature the Bendix ADB22X air disc brake on their steer axles. Within two years, Fusion will be equipped fleetwide at Melton, and the fleet is exploring the expansion of air disc brakes to all tractor axles. Melton’s 2,300 flatbed trailers are all equipped with the Bendix TABS-6 Advanced trailer roll stability system.
“We like to be on the leading edge of proven, road-tested technologies, which Bendix has delivered for years, and the developments have been wonderful,” Ragan said. “Once these technologies are available to make a difference, you almost have a moral obligation – not just to your drivers, but to the motoring public – to make that investment.”
Bendix is the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking solutions for commercial vehicles.
“The reputation of Bendix, the availability of its systems factory-installed through our longtime partners at Kenworth, and the outstanding training and support the Bendix team provides are all reasons we’re confident in providing their equipment as tools to help our drivers do their jobs safely,” Ragan said.
Wide-Ranging Loads, Far-Reaching Roads
Founded in 1954, Melton hauls a diverse portfolio that includes dense, heavy loads like steel and related materials, roofing components, and commercial HVAC units. And its more than 1,200 drivers cover ground all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ gathers input through radar, video, and the vehicle’s braking system, combining and cross-checking the information from sensors that are working together and not just in parallel. By creating a highly detailed and accurate data picture, 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. Event-based data – including video – can be wirelessly transmitted for driver coaching and analysis by fleet safety personnel.
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 Bendix® TABS-6™ Advanced trailer roll stability system combines antilock braking with a set of trailer sensors, which monitor stability and can quickly and automatically trigger braking interventions when conditions that may lead to a rollover are detected. Available in single-channel and multichannel configurations, TABS-6 delivers solutions suitable for a variety of fleet needs.
“We’ve got to be prepared for just about every road condition and every driving environment imaginable, no matter the load,” Jeff Robinson, Melton senior vice president of maintenance, said. “We put a lot of resources into ongoing, proactive driver training and coaching programs, and nobody has more confidence in their men and women behind the wheel than we do. But we can’t control everything on the road, and we know that Bendix’s safety systems have helped prevent accidents as well as shown us situations where our drivers did exactly the right thing in dangerous situations.”
Support from the Ground Up
Melton helps maximize its investment in integrated safety solutions by also equipping Bendix ADB22X air disc brakes on its tractor steer axles. 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, on the other hand, virtually eliminate brake fade, provide shorter stopping distances, and deliver greater reliability with more consistent stops.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the drivers about the air disc brakes’ straighter, more stable stops, and the reduction in brake steer,” Robinson said. “And while we started on just the steer axles, we’ll likely be equipping the ADB22X on our tractor rear axles soon as well.”
Air disc brakes also provide Melton with uptime advantages, since friction changes require roughly one-quarter the time of drum brakes once the wheel is off, and because they 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.
Bendix has produced nearly 3 million ADB22X units since introducing the air disc brake to the North American commercial vehicle industry in 2005. Worldwide, Bendix and its parent company, Knorr-Bremse, are the clear global leader in air disc brake production at nearly 40 million and counting.
Culture of Excellence and Purpose
Melton’s safety record on the roads has helped make it one of fewer than 100 carriers in the U.S. that qualifies for self-insurance in the eyes of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). And in 2014, the company took first place in the flatbed division of the American Trucking Associations’ National Industrial Safety Contest. Melton is also a two-time recipient of Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge Best Fleets to Drive For® award.
“We really do value that type of recognition, because it means we’re doing a lot of things right business-wise – but we also set our sights on excelling as an employer, corporate citizen, and community member,” Ragan said. “For instance, we’re big on employee health and wellness: It can be tough for truck drivers in particular to take care of themselves, so we have things like on-site medical and dental facilities, a gym, and a full-time wellness coach.”
Its driver wellness efforts earned Melton a 2014 Commercial Carrier Journal Innovator of the Year award, and the company has been recognized with workplace health awards from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Tulsa Health Department. Melton has also garnered spots on several lists of top places to work, and on Heavy Duty Trucking’s Top Green Fleets list recognizing its sustainability efforts.
“From their highway safety commitment to community support, the team at Melton is an inspiration – which is undoubtedly one reason Bendix’s partnership with them runs so deep,” said Lance Hansen, Bendix North America regional vice president – fleet/trailer sales & service engineering. “Because we share goals at such a fundamental level and know that succeeding together will make a difference to everyone on the road and their families back home, we’re driven that much harder, and we’re that much more grateful to work alongside companies like Melton in shaping tomorrow’s transportation.”
Bendix’s ever-growing portfolio of technology developments, along with unparalleled post-sales support, delivers on areas critical to the success of fleets and owner-operators, including safety, vehicle performance, and efficiency. The company has worked for nearly 90 years to lower the total cost of commercial vehicle ownership and strengthen return on investment in technologies that make travel safer for all who share the road.