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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Lights Tell Drivers If Fifth Wheel is Coupled to Trailer

A redesigned automatic lighting system for fifth wheels will soon be available from SAF-Holland, which says its ELI-te electronic lock indicator will help drivers ensure a proper coupling when they hook onto trailers.

The ELI-te Fifth Wheel Coupling Indicator includes white LED lights for the jaws-king pin area of the fifth wheel, red LED warning lights, and a long-life, application-specific electronic control module, said Bryon Redecker, product manager. The system is self-contained except for a power cord that must be fitted to a tractor’s electrical system.

It is replacing a version introduced about 15 years ago that has links to an in-cab indicator system. For various reasons that product has not been popular, Redecker said.

Miscouplings sometimes cause kingpins to slip loose from fifth wheels and trailer noses to fall onto the ground as a tractor pulls away. Major fleets have told SAF-Holland that hundreds of instances of dropped trailers occur each year.

Drivers working with the ELI-te receive simple, immediate, and actionable feedback after each coupling. When a trailer kingpin is properly coupled to an ELI-te equipped fifth wheel, four high-intensity white LED lights mounted within the fifth wheel automatically illuminate the lock jaws. Drivers can then verify that jaws have locked onto the kingpin.

If the coupling is not successful, the white lights stay dark and outward-facing red lights begin flashing. A driver can then find out why the coupling is not complete. A successful retry will turn off the red lights and illuminate the white lights. After a recheck, the driver can hook up air and electrical lines, finish a pre-trip inspection of tractor and trailer, and be on his way.

The enhanced ELI-te is an integrated option on Holland’s FW series fifth wheels, including the FW31, 33 and 35. It will be available installed at the Holland factory or in retrofit kits. Price has not been set.

“The lights make it easy for drivers to positively confirm that they have coupled correctly, and warn them if they have not. It’s a new generation of safety,” said Mark Molitor, vice president of engineering, Americas. “It’s an engineered, all-in-one system that will be spec’d by on-highway fleets that are looking to empower drivers to accomplish correct coupling consistently.”