Integrated electronic height-control for suspensions

March 15, 2013

Hadley debuted its patented SmartValve, an integrated electronic height-control system for suspensions this week at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Nashville. According to the manufacturer, the SmartValve will save truck drivers time and effort and help reduce their on-the-job injuries with a compact electronic height-control system that fits within the same envelope as a mechanical height-control valve.  

“The SmartValve is based on Hadley’s proven Smart Air Management System technology that’s been used for more than 10 years in rugged specialty vehicle operations,” said Hadley president Bob Dubsky. “We are confident that this cost-effective, integrated system will be quickly adopted by the mainstream Class 8 markets, because SmartValve’s wide-ranging benefits are tailored specifically to them.”

According to Hadley, installing a SmartValve on a drive-axle suspension saves time and money in a variety of common drop-and-hook situations. The system can raise the tractor frame over ride height, so drivers can reduce the time and effort required in coupling with trailers found at many different ride heights. There is no need to crank the landing gear as often or as far, and fewer trips out of the cab are required for adjustment. Less drop-and-hook time, the company asserted, means drivers are able to spend more time with their families. “New hours-of-service regulations [will] put a premium on drivers’ time.  SmartValve makes that time more efficient,” noted director of marketing Bob Zirlin

SmartValve also dramatically reduces the driver effort required in drop-and-hook operation, according to the company.  With a mechanical valve, if the trailer is too high when coupling, drivers are forced to adjust the landing gear with the weight of the trailer fully resting on the landing gear and suspension.  The result is more strenuous cranking and back strain, more time needed to adjust, and multiple trips out of the cab. In the same situation, but with a SmartValve, the driver can couple the tractor and trailer by simply raising the tractor frame over ride height, thus lifting the trailer and load.  This allows for easy final adjustment of the landing gear. 

If the trailer is too low, continued Hadley, the driver simply raises the tractor frame over ride height, thus lifting the trailer and reducing the effort needed to crank the gear.  This means safer, easier coupling and greater driver satisfaction.

“SmartValve can be an important recruiting tool for the many fleets facing driver shortages today,” contended Zirlin. He related that in a survey Hadley conducted of drivers familiar with both SmartValve and mechanical height control valves, all drivers questioned “enthusiastically preferred” SmartValve. 

According to Hadley, the SmartValve also improves fuel economy via greater ride-height accuracy, which results in reduced compressor run time and avoidance of unnecessary valve actuations. 

In addition, the company said SmartValve “provides OEMs with a tool to design more aerodynamic tractors, which automatically lower vehicle ride heights at highway speeds.”

The SmartValve Electronic Height Control System is available today as a retrofit kit for specific applications, with additional coverage expanding rapidly in the months ahead.  It will be available later this year for OE installation.  “By addressing key challenges facing the Class 8 industry, the cost-effective SmartValve can play an important role in your fleet’s operational success,” added Dubsky.

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