ROLLING ON | Transport News – Hendrickson

Hendrickson reveals its next generation of steering and suspension options

As the new Freightliner Cascadia debuts in the Australian market, Hendrickson has announced the option of the Optimaax forward-liftable tandem-axle system and Airtek NXT for the Cascadia in the North American market.

The Optimaax system is an innovative 6×2 solution designed to help fleets save fuel cost, tyre wear and weight with comparable handling to 6×4 tandem axle configurations. Operating as a liftable axle in the forward tandem position, this system provides versatility for fleets with variable loads.  The fully-automated control module eliminates driver intervention and allows the tractor to adapt to the requirements of the load; raising the axle when the additional capacity is not needed and lowering the axle to distribute the load evenly when required.  Optimaax also provides load equalisation between the tandem axles when in the lowered position to ensure bridge law compliance.

PowerTorque does not yet have confirmation this option will be available for the Australian market, but interestingly we are aware of a new tandem drive axle assembly being developed by Daimler through its Detroit axle plat at Redford that will offer selectable 6×2 or 6×4 drive for future models. Again, there has been no confirmation as yet with regard to its introduction.

Moving up to the front end of the truck, Hendrickson has also developed the Airtek NXT next -generation steer axle and air suspension system. This combines Airtek NXT with the Steertek NXT axle and air-suspension technology to produce an advanced lightweight integrated clamp group design, which can save up to 30 kg over standard content and assists in protecting drivers from road irregularities, providing a premium ride.

Optimaax is ideal for fleets in diminishing load applications, and, when combined with Airtek NXT, fleets can further improve load capacity and help to enhance fuel efficiency.  In order to maximize the savings from Optimaax Hendrickson recommends pairing the system with Hendrickson 13.3K Airtek NXT.

“This combination is a game changer for the 6×2 market” says Sean Whitfield director of marketing for Hendrickson Truck Commercial Vehicle Systems.

“The weight, fuel, and tyre savings offered by Optimaax when paired with the Airtek NXT front suspension will really enable fleets managers to see operational savings for diminishing load applications without the compromises associated with traditional 6×2 configurations,” added Whitfield.

Available in 9000 kgs capacity, Optimaax will be available at Freightliner beginning in early 2020 and Airtek NXT is available now at 5600 kg and 6000 kg capacities on the Freightliner Cascadia for the North American market.

Hendrickson has also announced the expansion of its Steertek NXT portfolio of fabricated front steer axles to include 8000 lb, 10,000 lb and 12,000 lb capacities for the medium-duty truck and bus segments.

The new 10,000 lb and 12,000 lb configurations are available to order on International MV trucks and IC Bus CE Series buses as optional equipment with 8000 lb availability coming in 2020.  The design and manufacturing process saves weight compared to traditional I-beam axles while combining rigid strength, outstanding manoeuvrability, and reduced maintenance.

Available in capacities from 8000 to 14,600 lb per axle, Steertek NXT is approved for on-highway and medium-duty truck bus and motor home applications.

Another new announcement at the NACV Atlanta show was the Haulmaax EX, the next generation in heavy-duty rubber suspensions. Haulmaax EX represents Hendrickson’s  latest product innovation in its 100-year plus history serving the medium and heavy-duty trucking industry.

Launched in 2004, Haulmaax has earned the reputation for being the standard in lightweight and durable rubber suspensions in the vocational industry. The progressive load spring system has benefited users with a combination of excellent ride quality and loaded stability.

Due to advancements in progressive load spring technology, Haulmaax EX was designed with more vertically-angled bolster springs carrying the majority of the payload in compression during the empty or lightly loaded condition, resulting in excellent ride quality.

As the load increases, ride and stability characteristics of the suspension change to meet the application’s needs without an abrupt change in suspension feel. The superior ride translates to reduced road shock and vibration to the vehicle which contributes to longer service life of the cab, chassis and body equipment and less driver fatigue.

To address the growing demand for rubber suspensions across all vocational applications, the Haulmaax EX suspension geometry is optimised to provide increased site rating, increased capacity ranges and improved durability.

“Customers today expect more out of their vocational suspensions and Haulmaax EX exceeds those expectations by expanding on the capabilities of the current Haulmaax design with up to a 32,000 kg site rating for the 21,000 kg capacity suspension. Haulmaax EX is extremely rugged, supporting the most demanding vocational applications and offering capacities up to 23,500 kg,” said Ashley Dudding, director of engineering for Hendrickson Truck Commercial Vehicle System.

“Hendrickson utilised our industry leading analysis and validation techniques to assure Haulmaax EX meets these rigorous demands, is maintenance free and is the lightest weight vocational suspension in the market,” added Dudding.

Available in capacities of 18,000 kg, 21,000 kg and 23,500 kg, Haulmaax EX is approved for a variety of vocational applications.

As well as launching new products, Hendrickson has also been investing in its future with the acquisition of Liteflex Composite Springs, based in Dayton, OH.

Liteflex is a global manufacturer of advanced-composite suspension springs. The acquisition includes intellectual property, manufacturing facilities and equipment in the Dayton, Ohio area, as well as nearly 80 workers that will become Hendrickson employees. The company will operate as a division of Hendrickson under the name Hendrickson Composites.  The Liteflex name will be kept and used as a product name going forward.

Liteflex was established in 1981 and has supported the heavy-duty truck and trailer markets throughout the world by producing quality composite springs with over 21 million installations on vehicles today.

“The acquisition of additional composite spring technology will enhance Hendrickson’s product portfolio. As we look to future green-house gas reduction regulations, composite springs offer a lighter weight product that will increase hauling capacity and improve fuel economy,” said Gary Gerstenslager.

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