Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

In the world of trucking, tractor and trailer coupling operations can be a daily occurrence for most drivers. Often referred to as “Drop and hook”, or switching trailers, this operation may seem like a simple interaction: back the tractor up to the trailer for the fifth wheel to hook to the trailer pin, connect the air and electric lines, crank up the landing gear, and go. However, it’s not that uncommon for this process to require significantly more time and physical exertion. There are numerous problems that can cause drivers to lose costly time and valuable energy during drop and hooks. SmartValve® can help drivers take the strain out of the process.

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

Trailers Too Heavy When Loaded

When trailers are pre-loaded for drop and hooks, they can grow increasingly heavy depending on the contents of the load. There comes a point where the landing gear handle is incredibly difficult to crank. In extreme cases, the landing gear can become bound, making the process even more difficult. The strain of cranking the landing gear against the weight of the trailer can cause shoulder and back injuries, while also resulting in increased time at the yard.

To get an idea of just how much work and effort is involved in cranking the landing gear, Link performed a test to measure the force required to rotate the crank on a fully loaded trailer. This test was completed by modifying a socket to fit the landing gear crankshaft and using a torque wrench to record the torque applied to rotate the crank.

The testing showed it required 120 lbs. of force on a loaded trailer with the crank in the low gear position. By utilizing SmartValve, that required force was reduced to only 2 lbs. For those who have experienced cranking a landing gear, the difference between cranking with or without SmartValve is effectively comparable to cranking the gear with maximum effort in low gear vs “free spinning” the gear. Our testing showed that with SmartValve, the torque required to crank the landing gear is reduced by an astounding 98%.

SmartValve eliminates the need to struggle against the tailer’s weight. Drivers can hook up the trailer to the fifth wheel and raise the rear suspension above ride height with the press of a button on the dash. This allows the truck to take the weight of the trailer, relieving pressure so drivers can crank the landing gear up with no additional resistance in a matter of seconds.

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

Trailers Parked Too High or Low

Sometimes the trailer’s landing gear will be left too high or too low, requiring drivers to raise or lower the trailer before they can connect the kingpin to the fifth wheel. This means cranking the landing gear up or down to raise or lower the trailer, a strenuous process that can lead to driver injuries.

Similar to a conventional mechanical valve, when a trailer is dropped too low, SmartValve can lower the tractor frame below ride height to get under the trailer’s lip. Drivers can then raise the rear suspension, lifting the trailer to allow the kingpin to slide into the fifth wheel. With the landing gear then off the ground, it can be raised with greatly reduced effort.

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

Trailers Parked Too Close

When trucks are equipped with SmartValve, trailers parked too closely to access the landing gear become a non-issue. The all-in-one electric height control allows drivers to take matters into their own hands. With the push of a button, the rear suspension can be raised above ride height, allowing drivers to connect the kingpin to the fifth wheel without needing to wait for a yard jockey to come move the trailer out. Once connected, drivers can connect electrical and airlines and pull the trailer forward to expose the landing gear handle. From there, they can crank up the landing gear and get back on the road – no waiting required.

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

Image Courtesy of Link Manufacturing

In Summary

While there are some issues that are unavoidable during drop and hook operations, SmartValve helps drivers eliminate waiting for yard jockeys, difficulty hooking to trailers that are dropped too high, too low, or too tightly, and struggling to raise the landing gear against the weight of a loaded trailer. SmartValve has additional benefits for tanker and lowboy trailers too. When trucks are equipped with SmartValve, drivers have reduced downtime and find themselves in a safer work environment with a greatly reduced risk of back and shoulder injuries, ultimately increasing their overall well-being.