The annual Commercial Vehicle Show, held at the NEC in Birmingham, mainly concerns HGV and van operators, but there are always a few products to be seen which suit the coach and bus industry. Tim Deakin reports on some of those that were there this year.Coach and bus operators who visited the Commercial Vehicle Show last week at Birmingham’s NEC will, if nothing else, have been reassured to see that it is not only the PCV industry that is witnessing an ongoing technological revolution.Hordes of providers of telematics, driver behaviour monitoring systems, paperless maintenance planning and execution and many other cloud-based products were out in force in a bid to sell their wares to the traditionally conservative haulage industry.Among both these and the equally numerous items of hardware were many items eminently suited to the coach and bus sector. The journey continuesThe variety of CCTV camera systems on the market is huge, and West Midlands-based Centrad’s good value offerings were on show.A new product from Intelligent Telematics (IT) is its IT1000, a forward-facing camera based on a 3G platform equipped with a three-stage G-force trigger.In cases of the most severe shock, it generates immediate email alerts, and HD footage can be viewed via a web portal within two minutes of the incident. Video of less severe jolts is also recorded and archived, and can be accessed by the operator when needed.â€œIn the case of an accident, even if your driver is clearly at fault, it’s important to get all evidence to insurers immediately, to allow the claim to be settled and reduce incidental costs such as hire cars and so on,â€ says Head of International Business and Strategic Development Sam Footer.â€œBesides our UK-only SIM, we can offer Europe-wide coverage. Cameras also have SD memory cards, so if the vehicle leaves the area of 3G availability the footage is buffered and then streamed to the server once it returns to range.â€One of the main attractions to operators is the price. The German-made cameras are provided free and a basic subscription is 19.95 per camera per month, rising to 26 per month with tracking enabled. There is no minimum quantity.Also relying on technology is Pro-Align’s new wheel alignment system. At 26,000 it’s not cheap, but that includes a computer workstation and all the equipment needed to perfectly align your vehicles’ wheels. Doing so, says Commercial Vehicle Specialist Brett Hickey, can generate significant savings, both in terms of fuel consumption and tyre replacement costs.â€œWe find that around 50% of the vehicles we encounter have wheels that are out of alignment,â€ says Brett.â€œOur system walks the user through step-by-step and tells them exactly what to do to obtain the measurements, and then how to align the wheels. It can be configured to work via an iPad, which the engineer can follow while he’s making any adjustments.â€The Pro-Align system’s hardware is made up of portable wireless sensors which are attached to each wheel, and the vehicle is moved around 60cm during the process using an electric ‘EasiPush’ unit the size of a small vacuum cleaner. The measuring process takes no more than five minutes to complete.Another new maintenance product launched at the show was Commercial Garage Equipment’s (CGE) BPS Twin 18 roller brake tester, which is ATF approved and more durable than CGE’s previous model.That improvement applies to both the testing equipment and the hand-held monitoring unit, which is now able to withstand being dropped. Maximum axle weight is either 15 or 18 tonnes.Something of potential use to operators who have their own fuel storage is JA Envirotanks’ bunded and compartmentalised storage tank.Offering up to five separate compartments within one shell, combined capacity extends from 2,000 to 200,000 litres and liquids including diesel, AdBlue, oil, pre-mixed coolant and screenwash can all be separately stored within.It is manufactured to the customer’s specifications, including the necessary dispensing and monitoring equipment, and comes in either rectangular or cylindrical form.A variety of other options are available, and high water content alarms are fitted. All that the customer needs to do, says the manufacturer, is provide a source of power, and concrete hardstanding if the tank is to be mounted above ground. Accessible minibusesFull-sized PCVs do not appear at the show, but in a bid to attract local authority buyers who also purchase trucks and vans, several suppliers of accessible minibuses were present. Among them were Mellor, Nu-Track, Stanford Coachworks and Treka Bus. Nu-Track showed its City Lift, a VW Crafter-based high-floor minibus with a rear-mounted wheelchair lift.As displayed it has 22 tracked Rescroft seats; Nu-Track’s literature suggests that up to four wheelchairs can be carried.Also on display was Nu-Track’s Fiat Ducato-based City Dash, which is fully low-floor and can also carry four wheelchairs, or 16 seated passengers. It shares similar dimensions with City Lift.Mellor’s Ducato-based Orion range was represented by the Orion Stagecarriage. As the name suggests, it is a fully DDA-compliant vehicle suitable for service bus work, although Mellor accepts that the Ducato is unlikely to stand up to the rigours of all-day commercial duties and so is aiming it at less arduous community transport applications, among others.Wheelchair access is possible via either a side or rear ramp, and up to five wheelchairs can be carried. In bus layout a maximum capacity of 22 is possible, although the vehicle shown was configured for 18 seated passengers, one wheelchair and two standees.For those who carry wheelchair users in vehicles with tracking, Koller Engineering showed its range of floor-mounted restraints, two of which were making their debuts.The basic Genesis 85 is certified for wheelchairs of weights up to 85kg plus occupant, and a complete securing system for one wheelchair is priced from 99. Koller’s existing Excel 120 does the same for wheelchairs of weights up to 120kg plus occupant from 135, while the new Nexus 200 is an uprating of a previous system to suit electric wheelchairs weighing up to 200kg, and starts at 250. Sprinter’s retarderSomething of interest to minicoach operators will be the new Telma AF30-35 electric retarder, which is suited to vehicles in the 3.5- to six-tonne MGW category, including the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.It will soon replace the existing Telma in this weight class, retaining its 350Nm braking torque but shaving 19kg off the outgoing model’s weight, says supplier EMR Technology Managing Director Jeremy Malpas. The new retarder comes in at 58kg.â€œWe can work with all convertors and bodybuilders on Sprinter chassis as the ability to communicate with the Telma is incorporated into Sprinter from the build phase,â€ he explains. â€œWe replace the propshafts and centre bearing; it’s a simple job, but the vehicle does need to visit a Mercedes-Benz dealer for the ECU to be reconfigured.â€œIt’s a simple, fit-and-forget unit that will last the lifetime of the vehicle and can give a four- to eight-fold increase in brake service life. We can also fit the unit to Iveco Daily and VW Crafter chassis, and can retrofit to existing vehicles, although retrofit requires a more involved reconfiguration of the electronics.â€There is no price premium for the new retarder, which retails at 2,500 plus propshafts, labour and any electrical reconfiguration and will enter production in May. It operates via the brake pedal.