Ed Higginson looks into the background of V.Orlandi as it increases its presence in the Australian market.
One of the most crucial components on a truck is the coupling between the truck and trailer, and its selection is usually the result of a decision between the customer and the trailer manufacturer. The selection of the preferred coupling system ultimately has to provide the customer the peace of mind that everything is secure while running at 100 km/h down the highway, especially when running at the weights we pull in Australia.
The correct choice comes down to selecting products from a proven brand with a solid history in engineering, and, with these factors in mind, PowerTorque was recently invited to discuss how Italian manufacturer, V.Orlandi, is growing its market share in Australia, supported by a long history that can trace its origins back to 1859.
Originally founded in Northern Italy, in the city of Brescia, V.Orlandi remains one of the European market leaders, exporting transport components all across the world.V.Orlandi designs and manufactures towing systems from 3.5 tonnes up to a 500 tonnes capacity, supplying units directly to OEMs, various military fleets around the world, mining and automotive operations, as well as for the agricultural market.
D-values also range from 28 kN up to 800 kN, which is probably more important to understand than simply the tonnage that will be towed, especially if you operate under PBS as the D-value explains the forces that will be affecting your combination. If unsure on the D-values when looking at your options, V.Orlandi offers a useful online tool that helps you work it out, or simply give the V.Orlandi guys a call as they will be more than happy to assist.
The long history and company’s know-how is applicable to manual and automatic drawbar couplings, all types of drawbar eyes from 40 mm to 70 mm, tow bars, 2” and 3.5” fifth-wheels, fifth-wheel sliders, ball-races, landing legs and king-pins.
The move into the Australian market started just over 20 years ago, Simon Tortorici, V.Orlandi’s Australian general manager recalls:
“Over this time, our philosophy has been to have standard products but target the markets that they are designed for. So, for Australia we have a specific catalogue of products designed for the applications we find here. Our strength has been that we value our relationship with the customer in order to have honest feedback so we can continually improve the products, especially some of our more specialised couplings”.
V.Orlandi started to build its market share originally by using Australian agents, but, in the past three years, the company has decided to take on its product distribution with an in-house operation.
“Since taking on the distribution task, we can now deal directly with our customers to ensure our products meet their specific needs,” said Simon.
“In fact, we have been able to develop some products in partnership with customers, which means we now have a range of products that is unique to Australia. With new sales staff starting directly for V.Orlandi as well, we are beginning to see customers’ brand awareness increase greatly,” he added.
V.Orlandi has a strong following in the truck and dog market, particularly in Victoria where their kits make up around 35 percent of the market, but now the company can start to focus on all markets and areas, particularly NSW and WA. It also enjoys a strong following with certain customers in the mining sector due to its couplings having the highest D-values, and vertical S-loads.
There is a wide range of products on offer, but one coupling that has performed extremely well has been the main 50 mm truck and dog coupling.
“The V.Orlandi E550 Pacific coupling is our bread and butter, its designed for the truck and dog market, which has seen it achieve strong volumes in the market place,” said Simon.
Some recent updates have seen this coupling improved further. The E550 comes with a 50 mm pin with the strongest D-value rating of 330 kN, plus it also has the highest vertical load rating in the market with a S-load of 2500 kg, yet it only weighs 42 kg.
V.Orlandi has also spent a lot of time in making it as easy as possible to service and repair if the component is damaged. The company claims that the coupling pin can be replaced in just 4 minutes, the wear pad in 8 minutes, upper and lower bush in 40, and it takes just 55 minutes to replace the full rebuild coupling kit. A comparison servicing test was also done alongside a competitor’s coupling, with V.Orlandi confident that its service costs are greatly lower, considering the speed that key components can be changed, saving 70 percent on workshop time.
Some other features that mechanics particularly can appreciate, especially when fixing couplings in the field, is that if a driver manages to smash the bell mouth, the jaw can be replaced in just 13 minutes, without having to replace the complete coupling assembly, making it much quicker and cheaper to repair. For the driver, a benefit incorporated into the coupling is that it can be detached in any angle to help speed up turnaround times.
A variation to the E550 coupling that has been developed specifically for the Australian market has been the EH524 Pacific that has been designed for tip-over-axle trailers, as the coupling can pivot 47 degrees vertically. All the couplings have various angles of articulation, both vertical and horizontal, so, no matter what your application or terrain, there will probably be a coupling to suit all requirements.
Other couplings start with the van and light vehicle range, the GA38 with a 30 kN D-value, and the DE71. Then, for the truck and dog or truck and pig trailer sector, V.Orlandi has the E40 to fit drawbar eyes of 40 mm, with a D-value of 150 kN and S-load of 1000 kg vertical. Finally, there is the larger and most popular unit in Australia, the E550 Pacific, which, as outlined above, is also for use with road train applications.
Moving into the highest coupling range, V.Orlandi offers the E576 to fit drawbar eyes of 57 mm, with a D-value of 350 kN plus a S-load of 3000 kg, or if you have serious loads to move you can go up to the Hercules, with 50 mm or 70 mm pins to pull up to 500 tonnes with a D-value of 800 kN. With this range of ratings, it’s easy to understand why they go so well in the mining sector.
V.Orlandi also offers pintle hooks, which are ideal for serious off-road applications, such as military combinations with D-values from 31 kN to 190 kN – for those in the military, it can even be supplied in green!
Then there are the fifth-wheel options, starting with the 2” kingpin rated to a D-value of 200 kN and U-load of 22 tonnes that is designed for tankers, stockcrates, fridge vans, B-doubles and road trains. Heavy-duty applications use the 3.5” range, with a D-value of up to 260 kN and U-load of 40-tonne. The fifth-wheel can also have many options added to tailor it to specific applications, such as the location of the release handle, grease top or autolube, plus various height plates and other options.
In terms of safety and to increase productivity, V.Orlandi offers the pneumatic remote opening, with either the linear or rotating options that allow the driver to couple up to the trailer and close the coupling from within the cab, improving safety and also speeding up the coupling process.
Complementary kits are also available that assist the operator by showing if the coupling is open or closed, or if the towbar is nearing the jackknife point, so they can stop to prevent serious damage. In terms of road train couplings, the coupling indicators are placed on the dollies to keep it simple and reliable.
“‘At V.Orlandi, we ensure our products are the most competitive in three key areas – productivity, safety and maintenance,” said Simon.