THE FOOD RETAILER DRIVING TRUCK SAFETY
Accidents involving trucks and vulnerable road users often end tragically, but is this something that could be avoided? Yes, if you ask EDEKA Südbayern, a German food retailer that became a pioneer in traffic safety.
Few traffic safety topics are more vigorously discussed in Germany than the need for modern safety systems on trucks. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, 3,100 accidents involving trucks and cyclists occurred in 2017.
Seventy-six of these cases led to fatalities — which means more than one death per week. About a third of the accidents leading to personal injury was caused by trucks turning right, meaning the truck driver could not see the cyclist. In recent years, several children have fallen victim to these accidents.
Demands to ban trucks completely from cities are being raised and pressure is growing on the government to take action. An EU-wide regulation on extended truck safety systems is already under discussion but is not expected to become law before 2024.
Taking the initiative with truck safety
One company that isn’t waiting for new legislation is EDEKA Südbayern, one of the largest food retailers in Germany. Four years ago, the company developed a turning assistant with an integrated camera that eliminates the “blind spot” for the truck driver, who can now see cyclists and pedestrians more easily.
“After several fatal road accidents involving trucks in the region, I conducted research and found out that there were no corresponding safety solutions on the market,” explains Anton Klott, the company’s technical director. “Our trucks drive through all big cities in this region and turning is always a dangerous maneuver. I decided to develop the solution myself, and two months later, we had the first turning assistant on the road.”
Today the system is distributed externally by a partner in the truck market. So far — as part of a project that doesn’t generate any profit for EDEKA Südbayern — it has been installed in more than 2,000 vehicles belonging to other companies.
“We are a food retailer that loves safety,” says Klott. “These accidents have dramatic consequences, also for the truck drivers. Statistics show that 80 percent of all drivers involved in a fatal accident suffer long term stress and are unable to continue working. Police and other first responders also need psychological support to cope with these incidents.”
The safest truck fleet in Europe
EDEKA Südbayern has a fleet of about 300 trucks and 475 truck drivers covering the entire southern part of Germany, driving in shifts, 24 hours a day.
Klott is a trained car mechanic and carriage builder and has been with the company for 40 years — 19 years of which he has spent as technical director. He shares a great vision with the company’s management: to provide the safest truck fleet in Europe. And their turning assistant is only one part of that.
Safety is more important than money,” says Anton Klott.
He uses the fire extinguisher in the truck’s cockpit as an example. It is a safety feature that is not required by law but is standard equipment in all EDEKA Südbayern trucks. “Our drivers have been able to extinguish fires in accidents on the highway and have saved quite a few lives. Several colleagues have even been awarded the Bavarian Rescue Medal for their efforts.”
The vehicles also have a reversing assistant that can initiate an automatic brake. Ultrasonic sensors at the rear make it impossible to drive over people or objects. Even before the technology was approved, EDEKA Südbayern installed side flashing lights. When the driver changes direction, the entire truck side blinks and warns cyclists who are traveling parallel to the truck.
Loosening nuts are history now
“We used to have big problems with loosening wheel bolts,” says Klott. “Sometimes they were not properly de-rusted, sometimes the driver forgot to retighten them. Alternative solutions were always complicated. For example, the driver had to check regularly that certain indicators on the wheel nuts pointed in the right direction. That’s all history now. The wheel nut solution from Nord-Lock is a perfect system that increases safety.”
“Accidents due to loosening wheel nuts can be tragic and also very negative for a transport company’s public image,” says Stephan Gruber, sales engineer at Nord-Lock Group. “That’s why more and more companies use Nord-Lock to eliminate these kinds of accidents.”
EDEKA Südbayern proves that great visions don’t have to be expensive. “All our security attributes only account for about one percent of the total truck acquisition cost,” says Klott.
Truck safety is high on the public agenda in Germany, and EDEKA has a security partnership with the German Ministry of Transport. Anton Klott is proud that his company has been able to inspire others to increase their own safety.
“Today, all long trucks in Germany must have a turning assistant and side flashing lights, by law. Of course, that’s a great feeling for us.”
Nord-Lock wheel nut technical insights
The loosening of wheel nuts is the main reason for wheel detachment — a problem that occurs more often than you might think. In the UK alone, there are up to 400 wheel detachments from heavy trucks every year*. In the US, detached wheels result in about 20 accidents per week**.
Nord-Lock wheel nuts are suitable for both on- and off-road vehicles (M16-M24x1.5 & 7/8"-11 BSF). The products use the same principle as the Nord-Lock wedge-locking system, using preload instead of friction. Every wheel nut comes permanently attached to a pair of Nord-Lock washers. The washers have cam faces on one side and serrations on the other.
“When the wheel nut is tightened, the serrations on the outer faces of the washers grip into both the fastener and the mating surface of the wheel rims, thus creating a tight fit,” explains Stephan Gruber, Sales Engineer with Nord-Lock Group. “Each rotation of the nut leads to an immediate increase in preload, making self-loosening impossible.”
For all vehicles, it’s important to be able to loosen the wheel nuts quickly and easily, for example in the case of tire changes. Again, the product offers great benefits, according to Stephan Gruber.
“The wheel nuts can be installed and removed using standard equipment and tools, making the process quick and easy. Nord-Lock wheel nuts are also reusable, depending on conditions of use, and can, therefore, be reinstalled.”
* United Kingdom Department of Transport. Report: Heavy Vehicle Wheel Detachment
** National Transportation Safety Board, USA
Customer: EDEKA Südbayern
Location: Gaimersheim, Germany
Project: To optimize the company’s approximately 300 trucks to become the safest truck fleet in Europe
Solutions: Different safety features, such as turning assistant, reversing assistant, side flashlights, fire extinguisher and a reliable wheel nut solution
Nord-Lock Group product: Nord-Lock wheel nuts M22x1,5
The benefits of Nord-Lock wheel nuts
- 100% reliability and thus better road safety
- Fast and simple assembly and disassembly
- After tightening and retightening, the wheel nuts hold until they are loosened manually — without having to be checked
- Nord-Lock as a reliable partner (EDEKA Südbayern presents Nord-Lock's wheel securing solution at trade fairs)