Independent South East operator Go-Coach, which operates 46 routes across Kent, says it decided to roll out Wheely-Safe technology across its fleet after a trial installation on an Optare Solo bus flagged a potentially dangerous issue with brake temperatures. Go-Coach has installed the full Wheely-Safe system, consisting of an intelligent tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), plus wheel loss sensors which can also monitor temperatures around the brakes and hub – where overheating is one of the most common causes of commercial vehicle fires.
Managing Director at Go-Coach Austin Blackburn explained: “We’ve been very impressed. The bus we trialled it on had been operating with a brake issue; and the hand-held pressure and brake temperature checker picked up the high temperature readings, enabling us to identify the cause and fix it before it became a real problem.
“Temperatures recorded from three of the wheel positions were around 40-42°C, which is what you would expect, but the offside rear was 80°C. We suspected a sticky brake on that wheel, but we found it was actually the caliper on the nearside rear wheel that wasn’t working correctly. Put simply, because the offside rear was doing all the braking, to compensate for the wheel with an issue, the temperature had doubled in comparison – which was an interesting diagnostic.”
Go-Coach has already expanded the trial to its remaining 11 Optare Solo buses and plans to fit its entire 40-strong fleet with the technology over the coming months. It has opted for Wheely-Safe’s external TPMS sensors, which replace the valve cap and auto-pair with an in-cab solar-powered receiver. These are fitted alongside a pair of wheel loss sensors and brackets on each wheel.
The company’s in-house mechanics fitted the system, following an on-site demonstration from Wheely-Safe technicians. “We wanted to protect the 12 Solos first, as we feel they are more vulnerable to wheel loss as they only have six wheel studs,” added Austin. “Wheel loss has been a very hot topic in the bus industry for many years so anything we can do that highlights a problem at an early stage has to be a good thing.
“We had two incidents of loose wheel nuts last year – we didn’t lose a wheel, but both incidents cost £1,000 in new parts alone, and that’s without the labour and downtime. We are very confident the Wheely-Safe system will save us money.”