Lift axles get a boost in the west

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KANANASKIS, Alta. – Lift axles have picked up and moved out West.

“The word milestone comes to mind. For Western Canada it’s a big deal and we’re excited as to have this approved,” said Irwin Dueck, with Midland Manufacturing.

The Manitoba-based operation provides the trucking industry with a wide range of trailers, but Dueck is especially keen on auto-sensing lift axle applications.

“Trailer and component life is enhanced by axles in the air, as well as road conservation and fuel conservation,” he explained. “If you rotate tires and brake drums between the up and down axles you increase component life significantly.”

The auto-sensing capabilities of the lift axles takes any extra work out of the end-user’s hands.

The sensing of pressure, or relief of pressure, is integrated into the system and the lift axle will automatically move up or down, as it is needed.

As well, Dueck noted that the use of lift axles will have a positive affect on the environment. Some of the ‘green’ considerations for lift axles he noted were less tire wear, which translates into less tires in the landfill, less damage to road wear, less fuel used and fewer emissions.

But like most good things there is a catch and in regards to lift axles it comes in the form of government regulations.

“All customers that buy these need to be aware they’re not legal and require a permit in Alberta,” explained Imants Krummins, a transport engineer with Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation.

“In Alberta they fall under a special ‘quantum’ axle group.”

Krummins and the rest of the provincial department have recognized the benefits of lift axles; including fuel savings to the operator, tire wear savings, less scrubbing on tight turns and having one axle down on rough roads to reduce bounce on the trailer.

It’s mostly because of these reasons Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation came up with a solution for prospective users.

“Basically it’s because they were abused in the past and caused significant road damage,” Krummins noted.

“We’ve always accepted new technology, so we came up with a solution with fleet permits.”

Another wrinkle in Alberta’s solution is it does not completely align with the other western provinces, which is something Krummins is hoping to have remedied in the future.

“Each province has their own approach and we haven’t harmonized our approach. I would hope to look to do this in the future as harmonization is beneficial,” Krummins added.

“The main harmonization issues seem to be around controls and status lights,” Krummins concluded. “The provinces should work together to harmonize regulations.”

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