Manufacturers of truck and trailer air suspensions have tuned in to “the voice of the customer” and are building air ride suspension products that not only take cost and weight issues into account, but also address fleet concerns for extended lifecycles and longer warranties. This year, fleets will see longer life components and reduced maintenance requirements in air suspensions.
Meanwhile, cost and weight continue to drive design, especially in the trailer market. Hendrickson has just launched the AANLS, a lightweight addition to its INTRAAX line. INTRAAX integrated air suspension, axle and brake systems are available for a range of trailer applications. The AANLS, built for specialty markets like drop-frame vans and auto haulers, is a 20,000-lb. capacity air suspension system.
Other new trailer products from Hendrickson include the INTRAAX AAZNT platform slider, available in a 46,000-lb. tandem capacity, which, according to the company, is markedly lower in weight than comparable steel spring models. It will soon be offered in a single axle version, with low ride-height versions for drop-deck sliders to become available within the year.
Joining Hendrickson's AIRTEK line of air suspensions for linehaul applications are also new air ride products for the vocational market. Early in 2003, Hendrickson will be releasing a vocational air ride suspension for heavy haul applications.
The Holland Group also notes the benefits of air ride for vocational truck applications. It says that while mechanical suspensions are typically designed to provide optimum ride when a truck is fully loaded, air suspensions offer an excellent ride under all load conditions. This is important for vocational vehicles, like mixers or dump trucks, which spend 50% of their time unloaded.
Holland is expanding current products into international markets, where durability is a necessity, while testing new suspension designs for specific operating conditions. It says its products will continue to evolve toward long-life, maintenance-free designs.
ReycoGranning has just introduced a new truck air ride suspension, the 79AR, that incorporates many of its components from the company's 79KB spring suspension. Designed for heavy-duty and specialty vehicles, the new unit weighs in at just 447 lb. and offers capacities of 17,000 to 23,000 lb. per axle. Conversion and retro-fit kits are also available.
Ridewell Corp. says it will introduce a lightweight trailer air suspension at the Mid-America Trucking Show this spring. A 13,200-lb. capacity steerable air ride suspension for trailers has already been introduced. In addition, a vocational truck auxiliary suspension/axle in a 22,500-lb. capacity is now available for use in applications like dump trucks.
In Eastern Canada, new regulations go into effect this month that require the leading axle on quad-axle trailers — which are typically liftable — to be self-steering as well. The goal is to prevent highways from being torn up by heavy tractor-trailers.
For fleets operating in Quebec and Ontario, Ridewell offers a 25,000-lb. capacity steerable axle, and Hendrickson is developing a steerable version of its INTRAAX suspension that will be available sometime this year. The Holland Group recently released the RL Series liftable, self-steering axle/suspension product in capacities from 23,000 to 30,000 lb.
A year ago, ArvinMeritor began taking a more active role in the suspension business with the formation of its Gabriel Commercial Div. The company says its world-wide resources, including axles, brakes, suspensions and ride control products, allow it to take a systems and modules approach to building suspensions that will reduce cost and improve performance.
RideStar is the new brand name ArvinMeritor is attaching to all its suspension products. The company has recently launched the RHP 55, a single-axle air suspension for use on doubles and triples trailers and converter dollies used in the LTL market. According to ArvinMeritor, the RideStar highway parallelogram (RHP) design eliminates poor stability and roll induced steering associated with using air suspensions with doubles trailers and trains.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CIRCLE NUMBER ON REPLY CARD:
Chalmer Suspensions 313
Hendrickson International 314
The Holland Group 315
Hutchens Industries 316
ReycoGranning Suspensions 317
Ridewell Suspensions 318
Watson & Chalin Mfg. 319