MUSKEGON, Mich. — With more fleets spec’ing mechanical trailer suspensions, SAF-Holland has come out with a new system it says will reduce weight and maintenance costs and simplify OEM installation.
The ULX40 UltraLite is offered as a complete system, something only SAF-Holland can offer as the industry’s only supplier of both axles and mechanical suspensions, according to the company. This systems approach follows a trend seen some time ago with air suspension systems. The ULX40 uses composite springs designed to last four times longer than steel springs, which the company claims provides ride performance comparable to air ride.
The ULX40 with drum brake from SAF-Holland.
Mechanical suspensions are said to save a fleet about $650 in maintenance costs over a 10-year period. There are fewer parts to worry about, as they don’t require shock absorbers, air springs, height control valves or dock lock devices.
“This new spring-ride suspension product will change the way fleets look at mechanical suspensions,” said Jeff Talaga, executive vice-president, trailer systems. “It’s an engineered all-in-one system that is lighter weight, offers a lower total cost of ownership, and the industry’s first 10-year suspension and axle system warranty. It will be spec’d by on-highway fleets in the van industry who are looking for a versatile option to help reduce costs for hauling requirements.”
Trailer OEMs will also like the ULX40, since it simplifies installation and supply chain management, said Bill Rector, director of sales and marketing, trailer systems business unit with SAF-Holland.
The ULX40 is up to125 lbs lighter than other mechanical trailer suspensions, the company claims. Weight savings can be attributed to the composite springs, which are 80 lbs lighter than steel, as well as a lighter-weight 5.75-inch diameter axle.
Talaga said more dry van fleets are favouring mechanical trailer suspensions, due to the maintenance savings and an improved ride performance that now comes close to matching that offered by air ride suspensions. Today, about half of new dry van trailers are being spec’d with mechanical suspensions.
“The large fleets are looking at moving away from air ride to mechanical suspensions,” Talaga explained.
One such fleet is Schneider, which published a white paper that concluded ride hasn’t been significantly compromised by moving to mechanical trailer suspensions. This trend suits SAF-Holland well.
“We are the market share leader in mechanical suspensions,” Talaga pointed out.
Until now, there has been no fully unitized mechanical trailer suspension available in the industry.
“We are the only ones who can do that today,” Talaga said. “The end user no longer has to worry about chasing down this supplier for this piece of axle, spring or suspension. It comes from us, one warranty.”
The 10-year warranty is an industry first, SAF-Holland claims.
Doug Dorn, vice-president, fleet and end user development, said the latest offering from SAF-Holland rounds out its suspension offerings.
“What I’m most excited about from a fleet perspective is, I now have the ability to speak to any fleet customer in the US and Canada – I’ve got it all,” he said. “If they’re an air ride fleet, I’ve got it in the CBX40. If they’re mechanical, I’ve got it in the ULX40.”
The ULX40 can be ordered with disc or drum brakes. Drums remain the predominant choice, but Dorn said many carriers are placing small orders with disc brakes to evaluate their performance.
The ULX40 UltraLite is available now for order.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies