Miller Industries Towing Equipment, the world’s largest manufacturer of towing and recovery equipment, teamed up with Murphy by Enovation Controls to introduce a new interactive display panel that provides tow truck operators with access to more information than ever before. The new display panels feature the Murphy PowerView® 450 display, a fully-configurable display for electronic engines that integrates equipment information into an easy-to-read, full color interface.
The rugged and compact PowerView 450 display has found success in the agricultural, marine, industrial, transportation and energy marketplaces because of its ease of configuration and use. Known as a pioneer in the industry, Miller Industries is the first to configure and adapt the PV450 for use in the towing world.
Miller Industries’ new information panel is available in two versions: The Miller Murphy Omnex (MMO) and the Miller Murphy Greer Omnex (MMGO) – depending on the type of recovery vehicle it’s used on.
Advancing Towing Technology
Available on most Miller heavy tow trucks, the two Murphy 4.3-inch, full color display panels are located inside the truck cab in clear view of the driver as well as at the enclosed station at the rear of the wrecker. The panel can be sequenced through a number of pages and screens (around 16 depending on which model is specified) to provide real-time information about truck and hydraulic performance, Power Take Off (PTO) and more. In addition, several built-in alarm indicators alert the driver/operator to potential problems.
The display unit can capture job information for downloading after each job is over and can even assist in preventive maintenance reminders and procedures.
The system contains revolving screens of information that can be scrolled when the truck is being driven to the scene and later during the tow hook-up operations. All engine operating parameters are presented on a “dashboard” screen display that’s located in an area above the driver’s visor. Fuel level, charging rate, engine coolant temperature, engine RPM, hydraulic oil temperature, and more are displayed in a familiar format. According to a Miller Industries spokesman, drivers prefer using the screen display on the panel over the truck’s OEM gauges because the information is more easily readable and useful than typical analog gauges.
The recording feature of the panel can be useful for preventive maintenance by keeping tabs on engine and PTO hours, faults and other incidents. It also has a “calendar date” feature that lets the shop mechanic know when filters are due for replacement or when other regularly scheduled maintenance, lubrications, component checks and inspections should be done.
The heart of the electrical system is the Mobile Vehicle Electrical Control (MVEC) module, a series of three solid-state devices that control and monitor all of the truck’s relays, fuses, lights and other essential components and can alert the operator via an audible alarm if a problem is detected. A built-in keyboard screen allows drivers to create a job file that times the tow operation, as well as PTO use. Using the panel’s operator interface functions, the driver can control the truck’s emergency lights and other functions, except he cannot engage the PTO from the rear of the truck.
The second screen, positioned in the control lever area, is used when the operator leaves the cab. The screens help the operator monitor the performance of the hydraulics, and other critical areas. On the MMGO system, the rear panel is also configured to provide critical information about the boom extension, elevation and capacity on the rotator unit, and more. Back at the base, information from completed towing operations (e.g., how long on the job, how much fuel was consumed, how long the PTO was engaged, who the operator was) is downloaded using a jump drive.
From the Ground Up
According to John Hawkins III, Vice-President of Sales, Heavy-Duty Products at Miller Industries the whole process from prototype to finished product took about 6 months using face-to-face meetings, Skype and conference calls between Miller Industries and Enovation Controls.
“We have an exclusive agreement with them because we’ve included so much about what we know about the towing business into the panel,” says Hawkins. “I’m a boater and that’s where I first saw the Murphy product. I figured if it can stand up to the harsh conditions in the marine and agricultural environments it would be perfect for our use where it’s either in an air-conditioned truck cab or in an enclosed, protected area in the rear of the tow truck.”
The PV450 features an IP66 and 67 protection rating, front and back, and can even work if submerged in water. “We began offering it in April of 2012 at the Florida Tow Show and everybody that’s tried it has ordered it on their towing package,” says Hawkins. “It’s standard now on about 40 percent of our models and can be ordered as a low-cost option on the rest of our larger units.”
“It’s interesting to note that we’re in a ‘hand-shake’ business, most often dealing with third or fourth generation business owners who know us by our reputation of building reliable, trustworthy products. At the same time, we at Miller have always prided ourselves as being innovators. We offered an earlier display system but we wanted one that could tie-in more of what’s going on with the truck. Today’s generation of drivers and owners love ‘gadgets’ that allow them to do things better and utilize information from the truck’s ECM. The Murphy product with its large screen and touch controls makes this happen.”
In developing the latest version of a visual on-board control system, Hawkins notes that much time and study went into sifting the essential information that today’s CANbus-based system provides from information that’s not relevant to the task at hand. For example, monitoring chassis voltage is essential and something the PV450 can be configured to do electronically without the weight and expense of copper wiring. User-friendly capabilities include being able to operate it while wearing gloves, adjustable display lighting and a high degree of controls customization.
“In some ways we’re also in the information business, and the more information we can give our tow truck users in a reliable and timely manner, the better off we are,” says Hawkins. “Whether it’s going down the road or at the tow scene; drivers, owners and mechanics are finding a lot of ways to use the information our new panel provides.”