To warn drivers, maintenance personnel and safety inspectors of possible wheel end, bearing and brake failure during walk-around inspections, US company ESCO has developed the Hot Wheel heat indicator label. Distributed by Robina based company 2020V, the cutting-edge technology is now available in Australia.
Manufactured in Florida, ESCO’s Hot Wheel label was designed to indicate excessive wheel end component temperature at the first glance. “The self-adhesive label can be attached to the rim and will endure contact with oil, petrol and truck wash chemicals”, says 2020V’s managing director, Bruce Piper. “It will even survive a pressure wash.”
The idea behind the Hot Wheel label is simple. “When the temperature of the wheel reaches 120°C, the temperature-sensitive white arrow changes and remains bright orange, warning of an overheated wheel condition,” Bruce explains.
According to ESCO’s research, a temperature of 120°C on the rim indicates that the temperature inside the brake drum has exceeded up to 260°C for a prolonged period of time. “This may lead to wheel end, bearing or braking failure,” Bruce warns.
The 260°C brake drum overheating threshold is based upon a series of studies done by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The 2004 report analysed a total of 163 commercial transport vehicles to set a baseline for the normal operating temperature of brake drums. Based on brake drum expansion and brake fade data, along with data from this baseline analysis, the department recommends 260°C as the upper threshold for normal brake drum temperature.
“Based on the data from this study we have calculated that brake drum temperatures between 260°C to 287°C will cause the area of the rim near the label to be between 115°C to 127°C,” says Bruce. “The results show that trucks with brake drum temperatures that equal to or exceed 260°C are often found to have insufficient bake linings or other significant mechanical brake faults when inspected.
According to Bruce, the clearly visible colour change of the Hot Wheel label simplifies the safety check and makes wheel inspection a quick, simple task for drivers and maintenance staff.
Nonetheless, the Hot Wheel label cannot indicate every instance of a wheel end component malfunction. Designed solely to monitor the temperature of the rims, it only shows the excess temperature of prolonged periods that could cause wheel end, bearing and brake failure. Plus, “A new decal has to be installed after wheel problem has been corrected,” Bruce admits.