AN INTERVIEW WITH STEVE THATCHER – BETTS TPS GLOBAL ACCOUNTS MANAGER / COLLISION MITIGATION SPECIALIST
by Betts Marketing Staff
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT BETTS TPS?
I travel across the United States and Canada installing Forward Collision Avoidance and Mitigation Technology (also known as FCAM) exclusively on behalf of Betts TPS.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN EMPLOYED HERE?
I have been employed by Betts TPS for over 23 years. I have served in my current role for almost 4 years.
WHAT TYPE OF FCAM TECHNOLOGY DOES BETTS TPS EMPLOY?
Betts TPS is exclusively partnered with Bendix Commercial Vehicles Systems – the North American leader in commercial vehicle braking & safety systems.
More specifically, Betts TPS works exclusively with Bendix Wingman Systems. There are two Bendix Wingman products: Bendix Wingman Advanced and Bendix Wingman Fusion – they both provide collision mitigation: Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) feature for class eight trucks and tractors.
IS IT A RETROFIT?
Yes, the innovative technology is retrofitted into tractors that came from the Original Equipment line without it. There are some makes/models of tractors that go back to 2010 that can be retrofitted.
HOW MANY FCAM INSTALLS ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
Over 1200 of them throughout the United States and Canada. Most of the installations are for the Fed-Ex Ground contracting fleet.
HOW DOES THE TECHNOLOGY WORK?
Wingman Advanced is a radar that mounts inside the front bumper of a tractor and looks out in front of the tractor up to five hundred feet for any moving or stationary objects in the lane.
If the radar detects an object that is getting closer and the driver is not reacting soon enough, the FCAM system will start decelerating the engine and will apply up to 66% of the brakes if needed.
The Wingman Fusion uses the same radar that mounts inside the bumper as well as the addition of a camera that is mounted to the windshield. The camera and the radar are FUSED together (Wingman FUSION). They are talking to each other about the objects that are in front of the tractor. With the addition of the camera, the tractor can apply 100% of the brakes if needed.
COULD YOU PROVIDE A BIT MORE DETAIL? ALSO, A BIT MORE INFORMATION REGARDING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WINGMAN FUSION & WINGMAN ADVANCED AS IT RELATES TO COLLISION MITIGATION?
If a vehicle pulls out in front of a tractor and slows quickly, the tractor with the Wingman Advanced system may determine that the driver cannot stop in time to avoid a front-end collision. The tractor will start decelerating the engine first, even if the driver has their foot on the pedal or is using cruise control.
If the driver does not take control and apply the brakes, the tractor will start applying the brakes automatically as needed to avoid the front-end collision. The Wingman Advanced will only apply up to 66% of the braking. In this same scenario, the Wingman Fusion can apply up to 100% of the braking to avoid the front-end collision.
Both Wingman Advanced and Wingman Fusion have Adaptive Cruise Control. This means that if the cruise control is set, it will keep the tractor at the same distance to the object in front of it without the driver having to do anything. If the object in front slows down, the tractor will automatically slow down to keep the distance needed to be safe. If the object in front speeds up, the tractor will speed up to the Cruise Control speed limit that was selected.
The other major difference between the Wingman Advanced and Wingman Fusion is that the Wingman Fusion also gives Lane Departure Warning. If the camera sees the tractor moving outside of the lane it is in without a turn signal on, it will alert the driver in case the driver does not realize they are moving outside of the lane. Wingman Fusion will also stop the tractor if it sees a metallic stationary object in the lane of travel. Wingman Advanced will only alert the driver of a stationary object in the lane of travel (it will not apply the brakes).
Both Wingman Advanced and Wingman Fusion will detect metallic objects only, no humans or organic material. There are other Collision Warning systems available, but Bendix Wingman Advanced and Bendix Wingman Fusion are the only Automatic Emergency Braking systems available as a retrofit for most tractors on the road today except Freightliner. Freightliners have their version of AEB that is not readily available as a retrofit.
YOU MENTIONED EARLIER ABOUT FED-EX GROUND. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT BETTS TPS & FED-EX GROUND FCAM INSTALLS?
I would say that approximately 85% of the FCAM installations have been for the Fed Ex Ground fleet.
Fed-Ex Ground is serious about safety. They have said there has been about a 70% decrease in front-end collisions since they started mandates for their contractors to have true collision mitigation. I believe the number may be higher.
PLEASE DISCUSS YOUR QUALIFICATIONS & CERTIFICATIONS.
I have been trained and certified by the Bendix Engineering team to install the Wingman Fusion and Wingman Advanced systems as well as some other products. Betts Truck Parts is labeled as an Authorized Upgrade Center (AUC) by Bendix. There are only three other AUC listed on the Bendix website and Betts Truck Parts is the only one that goes mobile to do installs.
IT SOUNDS LIKE BENDIX IS A GOOD PARTNER.
Bendix has been a tremendous partner and a world-class vendor. They’re developing for the future and we’re looking forward to future partnerships with their team. We do stock Bendix Wingman kits and, because of our relationship with Bendix, we are prompt in getting installs done for our customers.
APPROXIMATELY HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DO AN INSTALL?
The suggested installation time on the Wingman Advanced (radar only) installations is 4 hours. I can normally complete them in 2-3 hours depending on the tractor. The suggested installation time on the Wingman Fusion is 6 hours. I can normally complete those in 4-5 hours.
WHERE HAVE YOU DONE INSTALLS?
We have done the installs in all 48 states and Canada.
SOUNDS EXCITING! STEVE, THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME!