To protect and serve: The value of air ride suspensions

To protect and serve: The value of air ride suspensions

When it comes to specifying the right system, fleets need to rely on the expertise of suppliers. For example, Jim Rushe, program manager of on-highway trailer products at Hendrickson International, says that

Hendrickson AIRTEK
Hendrickson AIRTEK

“Hendrickson has a sales and service network that works directly with the fleet to understand its anticipated cargo and the equipment operating conditions. It is important to understand how much the vehicle will be utilized, what types of roads and delivery terrain it typically experiences, and what types of weight regulations it needs to accommodate. Hendrickson also works closely trailer manufacturers to understand how the trailer will be built in order to recommend a suspension system that best fits the fleet’s requirements.”

Ben Reineck, Meritor’s director of trailer products and program management, says that the company’s DriveForce field sales and service team supports customers before, during and after the sale. The DriveForce team works with fleets to assess their needs and recommends the right specification for their application. “Meritor trailer products also feature an application guide that provides proper specification recommendations based on various fleet needs,” he adds.

Truck air suspensions are commonly specified for driver comfort, but are predominantly spec’d for weight-sensitive bulk haul, beverage, grocery and refrigerated dry van applications, according to Gerry Remus, Hendrickson’s director of marketing.

“We also noticed their popularity among applications in need of equipment and cargo protection—fleets who haul furniture, fragile goods, or experience potholes and other road hazards,” he says. “Additionally, these already sensitive applications are experimenting with alternative fuels, and require even more light-weighting to offset equipment that can add up to 2,200 lbs.”

“As the value of trailer equipment increases, as in the case of refrigerated and tanker trailers, the level of component protection provided by air suspensions takes on greater importance,” Hendrickson’s Rushe says, noting also that cargo protection is another key consideration, making air suspensions a common specification on trailers that deliver products as diverse as automobiles, produce, livestock and electronic equipment.

“Air suspensions can also accommodate the use of lift axles for load versatility depending on different cargo or state requirements,” Rushe continues. “Additionally, some fleets have discovered that the comfort an air suspension can provide is a useful tool for attracting and retaining drivers.”

Meritor-Ride-Sentry-Full-Size-Truck-Suspension
Meritor Ride Sentry

Counting up benefits

“Fleets benefit from improved tire life, reduced total cost of ownership, improved durability and suspension handling when using Meritor’s MTA and RideSentry suspensions. Benefits will also vary depending on the specific priorities that fleets set in place such as driver comfort, cargo/equipment protection and load capability,” Meritor’s Reineck says.

“Less than truckload [LTL] applications where the trailer is not loaded optimally for a large percentage of the time and applications hauling sensitive cargo frequently benefit the most from air suspension systems,” says Bill Hicks of SAF-Holland trailer suspension systems—product planning.

“Since air suspensions have an inherent ability to adjust for variable load, any application where a vehicle’s load changes over the course of a workday, or where drivers spend a significant amount of time on the road, is a perfect place for air,” adds Dan Dykstra of SAF-Holland powered vehicle systems—product planning. “In tractor applications, this means LTL and other long haul over-the-road fleets. In truck applications, any application that backhauls empty or partially loaded can see large benefits, especially in vocational applications like dumps or tanks where load variability is significant.”

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