Air Suspension, Powertorque Workshop, Suspension

Keeping Trucks Upright

keeping trucks upright

One of the priorities for trucking operators, especially those in the livestock game, is keeping trucks upright and stable. PowerTorque test drives a new technology to assess its effectiveness.

This story begins just after dawn at a transport yard in a country area just South of Oakey on Queensland’s Darling Downs. This is cattle country with feed lots dotting the landscape feeding the needs of the major abattoirs in the Brisbane area, driving the export of Australian beef around the world.

The yard is one belonging to Martins Stock Haulage and the plan is to test drive a couple of the company’s cattle hauling B-doubles, one with a standard suspension set-up, and the other fitted with the BaseAir system on its air suspension system. The system is claimed to reduce the lean of the tall 4.6 metre high livestock trailers when manoeuvring.

Not only are livestock trailers high, they also have a high centre of gravity, with the first level of cattle standing on the trailer bed, but with the second layer standing above the first layer, a high mass is placed at a substantial height from the ground, making the trailers more likely to sway when turning corners, hitting potholes or manoeuvring in any way.

keeping trucks upright

The height of the load also has the effect compromising the static rollover threshold (SRT). There is no compromise on the part of physics. The SRT is calculated from the track width of the trailer and the height of the centre of gravity of the trailer. The lower the SRT, the more likely the trailer will fall over. 

What the team at BaseAir have done is come up with a way to reduce that likelihood of falling over by adjusting the way the air suspension reacts when a trailer starts to sway.

This is the problem that brought PowerTorque to Martin’s yard, BaseAir have fitted a selection of the B-double combinations in the livestock haulers fleet with its air management system to reduce issues. 

Out on the highway, behind the wheel of a Kenworth T909 with a couple of trailers in tow, the truck’s ride feels perfectly normal. This driver is used to way a trailer set will react on ordinary roads and in normal conditions. 

Yes, it’s always a good idea to remain a bit wary of sudden movements of the steering wheel and to avoid dropping the trailer wheels into a pothole or get them too close to the road’s edge. Any false moves, and it’s always an idea to take a quick look in the mirror to make sure the trailers haven’t gotten to far out of line or are swaying just a little too much.

keeping trucks upright

After stopping en route, the drivers were swapped around and this driver got to experience the truck fitted with the new BaseAir air management system. Once the truck was underway, the difference was clearly discernible. Travelling along the road the prime mover seemed to feel more upright, if that’s possible. the line it was travelling along seemed truer.

Just to get an idea of the effect of the system on the trailers, it was simply a matter of giving the steering wheel a quick tug and then back to centre, followed by a glance into the mirror, to ascertain the amount of sway induced at the back end of the B-double. From the point of view of the driver that movement seems much less than that level of steering input would normally cause.

During the process of loading up the trailers at the feedlot, the Martins drivers whose trucks we are road testing consistently affirm that the way the truck and trailers sit of the road when fitted with the new system is a real safety improvement, and makes their lives much easier.

keeping trucks upright

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