Axle and suspension components for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles need to meet multiple purposes and requirements for varied fleet activity. Flexibility is needed to accommodate this, and the result is that a vast number of possible configurations have evolved to suit specific needs.
Flexibility is a good thing, but one downside is that individual systems may not be optimized to their full potential because they have to be compatible with a broad range of components. As a result, many manufacturers have created integrated solutions that enable optimization of axles and suspension systems together, with the goal of increasing performance and durability.
Weight reduction is one example of performance improvement sought after through integration. Weight can be reduced by using fewer components, and also by using lighter and stronger materials. There are other performance based variables designed into these integrated systems to meet individual fleet duty cycles and operational demands.
Another goal of integration is to lower the amount of required maintenance and to make service easier. Reducing the amount of components means less complexity and fewer components to be serviced. Additionally, eliminating required points of adjustment makes it quicker and simpler to service the system (see examples in graphics 1 and 2 below). The reduction in components also aids in increased reliability by making fewer possible points of failure. The bottom line is that lowering required maintenance lowers operating costs.
This article was contributed by Julius Hairston, technical editor for Mitchell 1’s Commercial Vehicle Group.