Locked and Loaded

SAF-Holland’s ELI-te Fifth Wheel Coupling Assistant makes the coupling process much easier for operators by drastically reducing the risk of dropping a trailer.
SAF-Holland's ELI-te.

The incorrect coupling of a prime mover to a semi-trailer or B-double combination can be a very costly error.

Instances of missed couples often result in expensive dropped trailer incidents, and although driver training on proper coupling procedures is imperative, even the strongest training will not alert a driver when something has inadvertently gone wrong.

SAF-Holland’s ELI-te Coupling Assistant will, though. The optional system, offered on the popular FW351 & FW331 series of Holland fifth wheels, is highly versatile.

ELI-te, which stands for Electronic Lock Inspection – technology enhanced, helps drivers with LED lights on the fifth wheel to allow for quick recognition of a successful or failed coupling attempt.

In other words, it essentially reduces the chances of a dropped trailer occurring, preventing it from happening before it is even a possibility. With ELI-te, bright red flashing LED lights will assist the driver in the case of a failed coupling attempt by quickly pointing out a potentially costly mistake before it is too late.

With a successful coupling, on the other hand, ELI-te triggers four white LED lights which confirm that the connection is solid and secure.

These high-intensity LEDs are strategically aimed at the kingpin and lock for enhanced visibility during the inspection process, especially in poor weather and low-light conditions.

ELI-te still requires the driver to get out of the cab to ensure a successful coupling, but thanks to the LEDs, there is no need for torches or chassis mounted inward facing lights. Being entirely mounted directly to the underside of the fifth wheel top plate, ELI-te avoids costly installation of wiring and control units around the vehicle needing only 12-volt ignition and ground wire connection.

For those that prefer the convenience of internally mounted alters, there are also output signals available. ELI-te has been engineered to perform in real-world and real road conditions, making it a perfect fit for Australia’s transport industry.

The system has been cleverly designed, operating via two sensors that confirm the location of the fifth wheel’s cam plate, and the trailer’s kingpin.

The position of the sensors on the fifth wheel greatly reduces the chance that their performance will be negatively impacted by grease contamination.

The sensors, LEDs and control module are connected by robust components to form a sealed one-piece harness and the entire system is mounted within the fifth wheel, with only a single power cable connecting it to the trailer or prime mover, resulting in a very clean installation.

ELI-te uses two sensors to confirm the location of the fifth wheel’s cam plate and the trailer’s kingpin.
ELI-te uses two sensors to confirm the location of the fifth wheel’s cam plate and the trailer’s kingpin.

The ELI-te system can be supplied as ‘factory fit’ on brand new FW351 and FW331 fifth wheels, and also in a ‘retrofit’ kit for those models. The retrofit kit comprises all the parts that installers require, including an instruction manual, drilling template, drill bits and ELI-te system components.

Since its development, the FW351– SAF-Holland’s most versatile fifth wheel – received a boost in strength and durability with the latest variant known as FW351-E.

With applications where high weights and long combinations add significantly to the stresses placed on the fifth wheel, the industry called for a solution and SAF-Holland answered.

The OEM created the FW351-E with a D-rating upgraded to 210kN and with a 23-tonne vertical load capacity which perfectly matches the 50mm kingpin of the same rating.

These ratings, confirmed by SAF-Holland, have been verified by comprehensive real-world testing of the product under harsh conditions, rather than being purely certified by Finite Element Analysis (FEA).

The ELI-te Coupling Assistant is being adopted by major fleets as a key component that supports their existing safety systems.

“Systems like the ELI-te are being introduced by transport operators who are looking for products to improve safety,” says Bill Cassar, SAF-Holland National Fleet Manager.

“Dropped trailers is a big thing in the industry. Truck drivers work long hours, early mornings and during the night when visibility can be limited. The ELI-te system clearly indicates whether the fifth wheel is engaged or not engaged.

“It’s a major aspect of improved safety practice and this system, as fleets are finding out, is helping maintain those standards and protecting people and equipment.”

Some operators when upgrading the fifth wheel top only, have added ELI-te already fitted.

There is, however, some skill needed to fit the ELI-te retro-fit kit, so this needs to be done by a trained mechanic.

According to SAF-Holland, the new FW351-E incorporates the best of the tried and tested features of the previous series with a new enhanced ruggedness, thanks to the reinforced top plate casting.

For example, the renowned ‘trigger handle’ has been carried over which enables single-handed operation while providing an additional safety measure for added peace of mind.

Further options include an air-operated release and, of course, ELI-te, which brings users of the FW351 and FW351-E convenient verification of couplings.

Tied together with SAF-Holland’s proven solutions, ELI-te is a cheap, affordable insurance for operators which may come in handy when needed most.

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