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Massey Wilcox gives ‘green light’ to fail-safe coupling from Fontaine

New fifth wheels are fitted following successful trials
After completing successful trials of a unique safety fifth wheel from Fontaine Europe, Massey Wilcox Transport, the Somerset- based distribution and warehousing operator has fitted a further 8 wheels with LED sensor systems which, says the company, provide a fail-safe for drivers when coupling tractor units to semi-trailers. With the fleet’s tractor units constantly interchanging with a variety of dry freight trailers, Massey Wilcox needed a fifth wheel which could help eliminate potential safety issues caused by miscoupling.

“The first fifth wheel we tried from another manufacturer”, explains Managing Director and owner Robert Wilcox, “was not completely reliable because the sensor device failed to deliver a signal or sent false alarms when it was obscured by grease or dirt. We turned to Fontaine Europe, who’s LED Sensor system can’t fail in this respect because the mechanism relies on a combination of jaw sensor, handle sensor and a good old safety clip to get a ‘green light’ and confirm that the tractor is fully coupled.”

“We have conscientious, experienced drivers” continues Wilcox, “but even so, mistakes can be made – particularly when things are busy and the light is poor. With the Fontaine system, we have not seen any miscouplings and it is definitely an advantage from a health and safety and equipment protection point of view.”

After engaging, the driver needs to check that the fifth wheel safety clip is attached, in which case a highly visible green LED light will show, both by the handle on the fifth wheel and in the cab. If for some reason the driver has not confirmed that the safety clip is attached, a red light will show in the cab, alongside a flashing green light and an alarm willsound for 30 seconds. As an additional safety procedure, the external LED light can be checked by security before the vehicle departs.

“The beauty of this system is its simplicity”, says Robert Wilcox, “and the reason we have re-ordered is mainly down to the simple way the system works, by telling the driver he is securely hitched. It also carries out a self-check when switched on and if there is no trailer present, the in-cab display just remains blank. There is no substitute for driver efficiency and all-round best practice, both of which we hold in high regard. However, a system like this provides a fail-safe back-up for the driver to ensure safe coupling every time. It certainly looks like the way forward.”.

Established in 1954, and still owned by the Family, Massey Wilcox is celebrating 60 years in transport and distribution. The company is affiliated to the Pall-ex network with representative members in over 80 regions of the UK and is also a long serving member of the Transport Association. The company also provides a range of cargo handling services including: picking, packing and computerised stock control from its 350,000sq.ft of secure and rail served warehousing.