Construction truck fleets are focusing their truck spec'ing efforts on reducing chassis weight, but that attention is proving to be a challenge and opportunity for truck makers.
“We find construction customers today are more focused on finding lighter components than ever before,” said Ray Paradis, director of vocational markets for Dallas, TX-based Peterbilt Motors Co., told Fleet Owner. “They want to reduce the weight of the chassis in order to haul more product. But there is a price to saving weight – and for some customers, that price is higher than others.”
The trend for suspensions has shifted from the heavy steel packages to ones that use more aluminum in order to save on weight, said Paradis. However, he stressed that aluminum must be applied wisely in trucks, especially for ones operating in a construction environment.
“Suspensions are still a big area to cut weight, but you have to be careful,” he noted. “Aluminum components take a beating in severe work environments so they need to be used wisely.”
Axle placement, especially for front-steer axles, is another area that concerns Paradis.
“You have to make sure the distribution of weight is right for the specific part of the country that truck will operate in,” Paradis said. That’s because bridge and road weight laws in the U.S. vary from state to state, directly affecting how fleets spec’ chassis weight.
However, the payoff for spending more money on lighter-weight components spec’d properly to meet local and state laws can be substantial, he said.