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What we are seeing in today's vehicles is only the beginning. Freightliner has already announced their development of the Truck Productivity PC, which is an on-board PC integrated into the vehicle communications and electronic systems. When released for production later this year, the operator will have all the features and benefits of a personal computer, GPS navigation, wireless communication system, digital entertainment system and vehicle diagnostics assistant all within a package that fits within a DIN 1 or DIN 2 panel opening. American LaFrance will also be able to make this product available to the fire and emergency services vocation, further integrating the Eagle and Metropolitan systems.
KME: Multiplexing systems and load management systems are already utilized throughout the industry. I believe that LED technology, especially "Clear LED," will be the next step in reducing electrical system load requirements.
Saulsbury: Electrical requirements of apparatus increase every year. The use of a multiplexing system will be very beneficial once the research and testing of such system proves to be reliable and adaptable with fire apparatus.
Pierce: The trend in electrical systems design is toward simplicity for the end-user - in operation, maintenance and diagnostics. Pierce leads the industry in this regard. We are the only apparatus manufacturer to offer a fully integrated state-of-the-art multiplexed system called Command Zone™ on our Dash 2000 & Lance 2000 chassis. This electrical system allows the chassis to talk electronically with the engine and transmission, while sending multiple messages over a data link (computer cable) to other locations on the truck. The system can provide RPMs, engine temperatures, fuel levels, system voltage and more on a display in the cab or on the pump panel. The Command Zone eliminates the need for a bulky main wire harness and incorporates a single twisted- pair wire (computer cable) to take over the old electronic highway performed by hundreds of different circuits. Not only is there a space and weight savings with this system, but it also allows for on-board diagnostics, which will reduce troubleshooting time by as much as 50%. To add to the list this system allows for load management and sequential switching as standard and we can reprogram your truck from Pierce via modem while the customer's truck sits in their own fire station.
What we see for future electrical systems is doing more with less componentry. Optical displays, which can provide brilliant resolution for the various bar graphs, load management status, compass, stopwatch, operating information and help notes for warnings will become the standard.
Crash Rescue: I believe we are closest to the future with these items. Load management is commonplace and most manufacturers are rapidly developing multiplexed electrical systems that will be simpler to install and troubleshoot. Multiplexing will open up more options such as improved pump and aerial controls, more convenience features in the cab (power windows, power mirrors, power seats, adjustable pedals, etc.) and most anything the automobile or electronic industries offer.
Hackney: All major manufacturers have been incorporating load management systems as standard for at least four years. Standardization is the key to reducing system failures, increasing longevity and simplifying diagnosis and service. Prefabricated, "bench-made" wiring harnesses reduce the number of splices and poor connections to a bare minimum. The end result is better dependability and lower cost to the end user. For many years, wiring systems were the nemesis of the fire service. Overloading the systems was the primary culprit. Poor connections, based on human error, was the second. To counter this, many larger departments took it upon themselves to remedy the situation and incorporated requirements in specifications for wiring systems that met their stringent criteria. The result was "Band-Aiding" the problem and dramatically increasing cost. Today, higher output alternators, load managed systems and machine-made harnesses have virtually eliminated major problems. The only problem left is that of over-loading the electrical system with an array of emergency lights. Thankfully, NFPA 1901 has significantly reduced that problem by stipulating minimums and maximums. Most departments have elected to follow those guidelines and the end results is a dependable electrical system.
Ferrara: The need for simplified troubleshooting and manageability to electrical layout changes is moving our electrical systems towards the use of more computer-controlled load managers with the added convenience of remote management.