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SAF-Holland introduces new mechanical trailer suspension

June 4, 2015

Touted to provide an air suspension-like ride and weight savings of up to 125 lbs., SAF-Holland hopes its new ULX40 UltraLite mechanical trailer suspension will help re-attract fleets to mechanical suspensions not only for dry van trailers but for other applications as well.

“Fleets need to reduce downtime to survive and keep cost per mile under control,” said Jack Gisinger, president of SAF and its power vehicle systems business unit, during a press event at the company’s North American headquarters in Muskegon, MI, this week.

[To view more photos of this event, please click here.]

Jeff Talaga, executive VP of SAF’s trailer systems business unit, noted that the company hopes its new ULX40 sparks a “re-evaluation” of mechanical suspension benefits, particularly in terms of reduced maintenance cost.

SAF estimates that over a 10-year period, its ULX40 will cost $650 less to maintain versus a comparable air suspension model.

“We’re now taking a systems approach to mechanical trailer suspensions, similar to what’s been done with air suspension models over the last 25 years,” Talaga added. “It’s an all-in-one system offers lighter weight and lower total cost of ownership ... for on-highway fleets in the [dry] van industry looking for a versatile option to help reduce costs for their hauling requirements.”

[Doug Dorn, SAF’s VP of fleet and end user development, provided an overview of the new ULX40 at the company’s showroom below.]

Bill Rector, director of sales and marketing for SAF’s trailer systems business unit, emphasized that the ULX40 offers a complete integrated slider suspension axle system with composite springs and drum brakes as standard, along with the option for disc brakes.

“The ULX40 is a total system solution – one system from one supplier,” he pointed out. “The complete system provides optimum performance for the fleet while also allowing for efficient installation by the [trailer] OEM.”

The high point of the new ULX40 is its composite springs, Rector added. Compared to a steel spring system, SAF’s composite spring system is over 80 lbs. lighter and four times more durable – while providing the performance of an air ride suspension, with comparable handling, without the complexity.

“It’s simpler and easier to maintain because it has fewer components – no shock absorbers, no air springs, no height control valves, and no dock-lock devices,” Rector noted. “Components are also more visible, allowing fleets to conduct easier and faster routine inspections.”

With a 40,000-pound capacity, the ULX40 includes a 5.75-inch diameter axle – which provides a 20 lb. weight savings per tandem – that is over 30% more rigid when compared to the industry-standard 5-inch diameter axle.

Rector also emphasized that the new ULX40 comes with SAF’s proprietary “Black Armour” corrosion and rust prevention treatment, which chemically bonds with metal to form a protective layer reportedly impervious to water and caustic anti-icing chemicals; thus offering the protection of galvanization without the weight.

Other features and options on the ULX40 UltraLite include:

  • A 10 year Durasystem suspension and axle warranty that covers the mechanical slider assembly, the SAF X-series 5.75-inch-axle, welded bracketry, and the axle connection;
  • A Qwik Release manual “pin pull” that requires 20% less pulling effort than competitive models, so it can more easily be adjusted by a single person.
  • Option SAF Integral air disc brakes that feature a proprietary bi-metallic casting process that creates an integrated rotor-hub assembly.

SAF pointed out that the bi-metallic design of its Integral air disc brakes includes a series of ventilation channels to improve air flow that helps redirect and better control high temperatures associated with vehicle braking.

However, spec’ing air disc brakes on the ULX40 with double the cost of the suspension unit compared to a drum brake-equipped version, the company noted.

While SAF did not reveal specific pricing for its new ULX40 UltraLite, Rector said it will be comparable to previous SAF mechanical trailer suspensions as well as competitor’s models.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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