If you live in the modern world, then you’ve likely heard of brake assist. Brake assist is a very common safety feature associated with the everyday vehicles we encounter on the road.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how brake assist works and how it applies to industrial applications. More importantly, we’re going to discuss how air compressors play a critical role in the function of brake assist technology, as well as how to choose the best air compressor for your brake assist equipment.
Read on to learn more.
What Exactly Is Brake Assist?
Brake assist is an innovative piece of technology used as a safety feature in vehicles. The technology is fairly new, only existing in modern cars that have anti-lock braking systems. However, it’s now a critical and standard feature keeping drivers everywhere safe while on the road since it works to reduce your chances of a collision.
When there’s an emergency on the road that forces the driver to brake hard and fast, the brake assist feature applies an automatic boost to the braking pressure. This is what helps the driver to slow down their vehicle in less time.
Road emergencies tend to cause panic, taking a few seconds for the driver to assimilate. That means they don’t always hit the brakes right away, which means that when they do hit the brakes, they do so with greater force and speed—i.e., slamming on the brakes.
Brake assist technology works by detecting the emergency via the force and speed that the driver uses to step on the pedal. If there isn’t enough pressure applied to the brake pedal, brake assist will also engage and apply added pressure to accommodate for it.
One of the most unique things about a brake assist system (BAS), is that it learns from the driver’s habits over time. Some drivers are the nervous type that tends to apply a lot of pressure on their brakes routinely. Brake assist can tell the difference between when you’re coming to a stop at a light versus when you’re actually applying maximum pressure in a short amount of time.
Additionally, while we think of brake assist as a feature used in everyday vehicles, it actually exists for all types of vehicles. That’s including industrial trucks and buses.
What Does a Compressor Have to Do With Brake Assist?
Air compressors have made life easier for drivers since the early days of auto mechanics. Whether we’re talking about modern technology such as brake assist, or more efficient braking systems for larger trucks and buses, the one common factor between the two is, in fact, an air compressor.
The air compressor is actually one of the five major components in an air brake system. An air brake system, or a compressed air brake system, uses compressed air to apply pressure on the pistons. From there, the pistons apply the necessary amount of pressure to the brake pads to stop the vehicle.
Air brakes are typically used on much larger vehicles such as trucks and buses. Regular modern cars typically use hydraulic brake systems. Once again, all of these vehicles have an air compressor that’s driven by the engine via the crankshaft pulley or directly from the engine’s timing gears.
The compressed air gets routed through a cooling coil before reaching an air dryer. The air dryer is responsible for removing any moisture, oil, or impurities before getting stored in a supply reservoir (aka a wet tank). From there the compressed air continues its distribution through valves and secondary reservoirs until it’s finally applied to the brake pistons.
The beauty of an air compressor is that it works mainly by the intake of regular air. Therefore, it never runs out of its “power” supply. Of course, with hydraulic systems, there is fluid involved. That means that regular vehicles’ braking systems don’t run on pneumatic (air) compression.
They do, however, utilize what is called an “air pack” in air-over-hydraulic systems. The air pack functions similarly to power brake mechanisms. Primarily, they make use of compressed air to boost the braking force of the hydraulic brakes.
Overall, air brakes are more commonly used for larger vehicles, such as industrial trucks and buses while hydraulic brake systems are used in everyday cars and mid-size trucks.
Choosing the Right Air Compressor for Brake Assist Equipment
Choosing the right air compressor for your brake assist equipment comes down to two primary factors: Science and safety.
Brake assist isn’t only limited to vehicles—it also applies to any type of motorized industrial equipment that can be driven or towed. That means the type of air compressor that’s right for your business will come down to your intended use, the type of equipment you need to power, and the type of performance you’re looking for.
Here are the factors you need to take into consideration when sifting through air compressors:
What Are the Applications?
Most industrial-sized air compressors are designed to remain in one place. However, there are air compressors designed with portability in mind—you just need to decide what you’ll be using yours for.
Keep in mind that the portable air compressor models aren’t as powerful as stationary models. However, they’ll still get the job done efficiently. You also have to figure out if you’re going to be using your air compressor indoors or outdoors. If you plan to use your air compressor outdoors, you’ll need to account for protection from the elements.
Most indoor and outdoor air compressors come with standard protection features. You’ll just need to ensure that those features are up to your standards.
Which Drive System type Do You Need?
You have two drive system type options for your air compressor: An electric-powered drive system, or a diesel-powered drive system. The type you choose will depend entirely on where you plan to use your air compressor.
Keep in mind that electric-powered air compressors are more cost-effective in terms of operation and maintenance. However, they require a consistent source of electricity to run. Diesel-powered air compressors, on the other hand, do not. They do, however, require enough fuel to power them through the course of each day.
What Amount of Cfm and Psi Do You Require?
One of the most crucial factors to consider with air compressors is the amount of power and pressure they can produce. One way that manufacturers measure the power of their compressors is by Cubic feet per minute (Cfm) and by pounds per square inch (Psi).
The Cfm is measured in three ways:
- Displaced Cfm: Calculated using the bore, stroke, and revolutions per minute (RPMs).
- Standard Cfm: Calculated by measuring the free flow of air in standard conditions
- Actual Cfm: Calculated by measuring the compressor pump’s output in more specific conditions
All of the above measurements should be added together and then matched against the requirements of the tools you intend to use at one time. As a safety precaution, add 30 percent on top of that number.
The Psi of your compressor should match the Psi of your highest-rated tool. Unlike the Cfm, you don’t need to add up all the Psis of your tools.
What Tank Size Will You Need?
Your storage tank, or receiver tank, will determine the level of immediate output you can expect. The larger the tank, the more pressurized air will be available for immediate output. With smaller tanks, your air compressor will have to work much harder to achieve the same level of output as a larger tank.
If you only plan to use the air compressor in short bursts, a smaller storage tank will suffice for the job. Otherwise, you should look for a storage tank with a minimum of five gallons per Cfm. Investing in a larger storage tank will also cut future costs should you need your brake assist equipment for various jobs down the line.
You also have the choice between a vertical or horizontal tank. The design you choose will depend entirely on the amount of space you have to store the tank. If you have limited space, a vertical tank is your best bet since it has a smaller footprint.
Choose Gast for Your Brake Assist Equipment
Now that you understand the critical role an air compressor plays in brake assist equipment, you’ll only want to purchase yours from the best manufacturers on the market.
Gast Manufacturing has been a global industry leader in the design and manufacturing of pneumatic products since 1921. Their air compressors are engineered for maximum durability and performance. They’re also the most versatile in the industry.
Gast products are also the top choice for OEMs throughout over 100 different countries as they deliver the most trusted industrial products on the market. If you’re in the market for an industrial air compressor, contact us today. We can help you find the right compressor for the job.