Tech Talk

There is something new in the air

Featuring a simple, easy to use, in-cab lock release system, the air release option for Holland fifth wheels has been available for decades – proving itself as a perfect solution for many fleets over the past 50 years.

Initially designed for terminal tractor applications, Holland originally introduced the air release option for terminal tractor and yard spotter manufacturers Terberg and Calmar Ottawa Trucks. The product was then brought to Australia by Daysworth International as a standard fifth wheel for its terminal tractors.

This air release option was then extended to other Holland fifth wheel models; with the brand’s  most versatile FW351 fifth wheel providing some of the greatest benefits for fleets and transport operators.

Some fleets have been a little slow to make use of the technology due to a common misconception that accidentally flicking the switch could release the fifth wheel while the truck is in motion – but that’s far from the truth. In fact, with the Holland “interlock air operated system”, the only way to get air to the unlocking cylinder is when the vehicle is in park with the emergency brake engaged, adding an extra safety component to the complete system.

Once the truck park brakes are applied, then with a simple pull of a dash-mounted air switch a pneumatic cylinder on the fifth wheel releases the locking mechanism. While preventing accidental release of the fifth wheel lock, the unique air-assisted interlock still allows manual operation if necessary. As the air release option is operated from within the cabin, it also means that hands and clothes are kept free of grease and grime.

A recent trend has been the installation of the air release switch at the chassis, near the fifth wheel. This means the driver still has to get out of the cabin to perform a visual inspection of successful uncoupling but doesn’t need to manipulate the release handle. As a result, it reduces the chance of injuries like dislocated shoulders, strained backs, muscle strain or fatigue, especially during bad weather or when access to the release handle is difficult.

To further enhance the product’s safety, Holland has also introduced an electronic sensor system called ELI-teTM that monitors the locked/unlocked condition of the fifth wheel with air release option. The status of the coupling attempt is shown by the LED lights installed on the fifth wheel (white or red), assisting the driver to prevent mistakes before they happen.

The ELI-teTM is especially useful when coupling, since it not only has the LED indicator lights, it also has LED illuminators that assist the driver to confirm that the king-pin is properly locked into the fifth wheel.

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