AVON, Ohio – To look at the origins of the Tankstar USA family of companies is to travel the history of trucking in America, marking a series of mileposts on a 110-year journey. Furthest back is 1913, the year Fred Schwerman Jr. founded Schwerman Trucking Company to deliver agricultural goods around Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Today, the Tankstar USA family of companies employs more than 900 people and runs a total of 775 Kenworth, Mack®, and Volvo tractors and 2,200 trailers from its base in Milwaukee and 32 locations across the country.
Three of its fleets have been honored with National Tank Truck Carriers safety awards. And Tankstar’s unwavering commitment to safety includes supporting its more than 700 drivers with Bendix® ADB22X® air disc brakes and Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ advanced driver assistance (ADAS) technologies from Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC.
“They bring another level of safety to not just our drivers, but to the motoring public as well,” said Russ Hull, Tankstar’s director of maintenance. “Everyone sharing the roads benefits when we provide the people behind the wheels of our trucks with the safest vehicles possible, and we’ve been spec’ing Bendix since at least 2012.”
Building a Safety Culture and Supporting Drivers
New hires begin learning Tankstar’s safety culture as soon as they walk through the door.
“From day one, whether you’re a technician or a driver or in any other position, we emphasize the value we place on safety,” Hull said. “There’s hands-on training, computer-based training – everything we can do to instill the shared beliefs and safety practices that matter so much to everyone here, workers and leadership alike.
“The No. 1 goal is that everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.”
Hull, who has been in trucking for 30 years and holds a CDL with a tanker endorsement, routinely gets behind the wheel of new trucks so he can fully appreciate the driver’s perspective, as well as the real-world performance and capabilities of Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™.
“Experiencing these things firsthand really puts me in the best place to understand our drivers’ wants and needs, and their feedback is crucial,” he said. “And I do hear from them that they like lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control and technology that can potentially prevent rollovers – which is particularly valuable to fleets like ours.
“Drivers need to be comfortable, and they need to be confident, and anything that helps them do their job better and more safely, they appreciate that.”
The Bendix® ESP® Electronic Stability Program full-stability system is the foundation of Bendix collision mitigation technologies, utilizing a system of sensors and advanced algorithms to recognize and assist drivers in potentially mitigating conditions that could lead to rollover and loss of control.
It functions in a wide range of driving and road conditions, including snowy, ice-covered, and slippery surfaces, and can activate the brakes in ways the driver cannot replicate. Wingman Fusion is built on Bendix ESP and integrates a forward-facing camera with the radar, creating a powerful driver assistance system. With a suite of sensors working together, and not just in parallel, Fusion uses multisystem integration to create a more comprehensive data picture, setting it apart from radar-only systems.
Tankstar also equips Bendix® ADB22X® air disc brakes on all its tractor axles. “I’ve never heard a driver wish they could go back to drum brakes,” Hull said. “We’ve spec’ed Bendix disc brakes for more than 10 years, and the drivers absolutely love them. They’ll say, ‘This thing brakes like a car: It grabs harder than drums, but it’s smoother.’”
Air disc brakes provide shorter stopping distances compared to drum brakes and virtually eliminate brake fade, providing greater reliability with more consistent stops. During heavy stop-and-go traffic situations or mountain descents, brake fade can start to set in on drum brakes, extending stopping distances as drum brakes heat up. Air disc brakes also provide improved brake stability from side to side, reducing the risk of brake steer for straighter, more stable stops.
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