An eye for detail

From the November 2019 issue.

Dieter Raab leverages two important roles at JOST. He is the head of the global truck department and serves as a product manager for towing hitches. Global Trailer met him to unpack 33 years of specialised equipment expertise and knowledge.

The towing hitches that JOST supplies, according to Raab, are predominantly sold under the ROCKINGER brand but in some regions like Brazil, however, there is a demand to offer the towing hitches under the JOST brand. Over the years there were some new 50mm towing hitches and ball hitches developed in cooperation with JOST designers in Germany.

“Since JOST took over ROCKINGER in 2001, the towing hitch portfolio was consequently increased to be a full range supplier,” he says. “This allowed for the design of a 57mm towing hitch for the Scandinavian market, including the necessary cross members and side plates, as well as a 68mm towing hitch for the French market and a ball hitch for car transporters . JOST also produces various upgrade kits for remote operation and remote indication.”

Going back to the roots of ROCKINGER with the first safety coupling of the world in 1927, Raab says JOST has since invented a new ROCKINGER release lever system for a 40mm (RO*40E), 50mm (RO*50E) and a 40mm CH (RO*40CH) for the Swiss market. The equipment specialist has also introduced a camera system that guides the vehicle operator during the coupling process, especially for CAT (Centre Axle Trailer) operation. 

Currently, the most popular towing hitch is the standard 40mm towing hitch however the launch of the CAT is seeing a new trend with the 50mm towing hitch range.

“The release lever system allows the RO*50E to be coupled under difficult drawbar angles and the drawbar eye activates the closing mechanism only if the eye is in the right position,” Raab says. “That is also the reason why you don´t have to drive very hard into the coupling to activate the bolt and push the coupling bolt up. Also, if the driver wants to pick up the next trailer they do not have to go out and open the tow hitch again.” The coupling process is also really low-noise, that’s important for residential areas.

The release lever system, Raab explains, is a feature that vehicle operators enjoy for ease of use which also improves handling, reliability and are also easy to repair.

Over the years, JOST has seen many changes to the development of its towing hitches and fifth wheels. For many years already, the company has harnessed the advantages of 3D design, FEM calculation risk assessment by FMEA as well as other simulations and special tools.

Interestingly, every region has its own towing hitch system that comes with its own historical background. Raab says his team develop towing hitches for specific applications along with special couplings for special purposes. “We have a range of towing hitches from one tonne to 1,000 tonnes, where the towing hitch alone has a weight of 300kg and the drawbar eye weighs 80kg.”

Conventional connections between a truck and a trailer are made of steel and need to be lubricated regularly in order to avoid wear and damage.

“Under normal operating conditions, a fifth wheel coupling requires about 10 kilograms of lubricating grease per year,” Raab says. “With a vehicle fleet of around 600,000 vehicles in Europe, this makes around 6,000 tonnes per year. This high amount of grease requires an eco-friendly solution like the biodegradable organic grease.”

With the development of minimal lubrication with LubeTronic, JOST already succeeded in reducing the amount of grease needed to about 1.6 kilograms per year. Now, JOST is taking the next step by introducing a grease that is biodegradable in accordance with the OECD 301 B bio-degradation test. Considering that JOST’s organic, high-performance lubricant actually exceeded the demands of the test, it received the rating of ‘readily biodegradable’, which means it degrades especially quickly and easily.

“The lubricant is ideally formulated for use in combination with Lube-Tronic and is impressive from more than just an eco-friendly perspective,” Raab says. “JOST will offer its organic grease at the same price as its commonly used grease. Thus, all JOST customers will be able to switch to the organic grease without incurring additional costs, thereby contributing to preserving the environment."

Fast Fact
JOST launched an online part finder last year, which according to Dieter Raab, was the first step for the equipment specialist. “Of course, other product groups will follow suit in the future,” he says. “Our clients are happy to use this innovative online part finder.”

ROCKINGER once again took first prize in the “Towing Hitches” category in the “Best Brand 2019” reader’s poll conducted by the German ETM publishing house. This honour means that ROCKINGER brand has been recognised for the high quality, user-friendliness of its products and its excellent service for the 15th time in a row.

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