A desire to keep ahead of the game led prominent Brisbane-based business KS Easter, to first trial and now standardise JOST JSK37CXW greaseless fifth wheels fitted with the Sensor Coupling option on its new prime movers.
KS Easter was founded in Newcastle 45 years ago by managing director, Ken Easter, who started out as a single truck owner-operator.
Over the next decade the business grew quickly and Ken made the decision in 1988 to up stumps and move to Brisbane. As much of the work was linehaul between Melbourne and Brisbane, it made sense to be based at one end or the other.
The business has since continued to grow. Ken’s eldest son Kenny is general manager and has been involved with the business since 1991. With an emphasis on safety and wellbeing for its drivers and the general public, KS Easter made the call to standardise on JOST JSK37CXW fifth wheels with the sensor option that alerts the driver if a miscouple has occurred.
One difficulty associated with tackling the problem of miscoupled trailers – and what makes this such a critical issue – is the huge variety of causes that can lead to a trailer being miscoupled and when or how a miscoupled trailer actually becomes separated from the prime mover.
In the best-case scenario, the driver will notice a miscoupled trailer when he or she follows best-practice procedures and visually inspects the coupling to ensure the kingpin is secure in the lock jaw and the safety mechanism is in place, prior to performing a tug test after coupling.
If the check is not made on the kingpin in the jaw, then a miscoupled trailer can separate from the fifth wheel during the tug test or when manouevering in the yard, which can cause damage to the truck or trailer and delay deliveries.
However, the weight of a loaded trailer sometimes puts enough force onto the fifth wheel that it can pass a hasty tug test and give the driver a false impression that the trailer is securely connected.
This can lead to a potentially far more dangerous situation if the trailer separates from the prime mover when travelling at speed on the road.
JOST’s solution to this major safety factor is its Sensor Coupling System which gives the driver a visual and audible warning if it detects that any one of the skid plate, kingpin or safety latch are not in the correct position for a secure connection.
This system has the potential to avert disaster if the abovementioned scenario should ever occur.
“We believe that JOST’s Sensor Coupling system will help reduce the incidents that happen due to drivers cutting corners and not physically checking that the fifth wheel jaw and locking bar are fully engaged,” Kenny says.
“In our view the extra investment is well worthwhile because it will reduce our damage bill and the time and cost involved with filling out incident reports and paperwork that must be done every time a trailer is dropped.”
He also mentions that the frustration of customers when events happen has a negative impact on the business and must be avoided as much as possible.
The fact that most drivers now own a smartphone with an LED flashlight incorporated means the excuse of not having a torch to check if the turntable jaws are locked correctly is hardly valid anymore.
Having put one of JOST’s JSK37CXW fifth wheels with Sensor Coupling on trial for several months, both the driver and management at KS Easter were pleased with the results.
“There were a few very minor teething issues, but these basically centred around housekeeping — ensuring the sensors are kept clean so they can do their work properly,” he says.
“Other than that, there were no issues at all, so the last new truck we bought we had the standard turntable replaced with the new JOST unit and that will now be the standard fit for any new trucks we buy.”
KS Easter has been using JOST turntables and landing legs since Ken first started the business and today the entire fleet is now equipped.
Nowadays the company runs over 100 prime movers and more than 250 trailers.
The decision to exclusively use JOST equipment, and now even more so with the addition of the Sensor Coupling technology, is an important element in this ongoing strategy.
According to Kenny, the products are bulletproof and rarely if ever have any issues.
“We’re very happy with the JOST low maintenance greaseless turntables,” Kenny says. “They’re very reliable and they do the job well.”