Tech Talk

Hendrickson launches new truck liftable steer axle

Global supplier of commercial vehicle suspensions, Hendrickson, has this month launched its COMPOSILITE EXS for the Australian market, an innovative next generation steerable lift-axle suspension system engineered for enhanced durability and performance.

This lightweight, load sharing liftable steer axle helps to deliver increased payload and improved manoeuvrability. While enhanced design features result in a lower cost of ownership.

Though truck steer axles at the drive group aren’t very commonplace, Hendrickson group product manager for trucks, Andrew Rawstron, says they can provide significant benefits in the right application. 

“The value and benefits the end user will see can vary as it is largely dependent on the position of the product (in front or behind the drive group) and the application they are running,” explained Rawstron.

“The main advantage is for trucks with tridem rear groups such as 10×4 and 8×4 single front steer trucks.”

In the pusher position (in front of the drive axles), a steer axle is excluded from the wheelbase calculation, which allows for bigger bodies and larger rear overhang. This means that rather than the wheelbase and rear overhang being measured from the centre axle, a pusher steer axle causes the wheelbase to shift further back to the centre of the two drive axles. For a 1.3m axle spacing, this could add 0.65m to the wheelbase and up to 0.39m to the rear overhang which could result in an extra 1.04m of body length compared to an equivalent truck with a fixed axle tridem group.

COMPOSILITE EXS13 fitted in the pusher position for a Hooklift truck application. Photo: Hydraulic Towing Equipment

To add, in the tag position (behind the drive axles), a steer axle will reduce the turning circle compared to an equivalent fixed lazy axle. Because the tag axle steers, the turning point is moved forward to the centre of the two drive axles, effectively shortening the wheelbase and improving the turning circle.

“A simple way to think of the benefit you will get with a product such as COMPOSILITE EXS is to pretend it isn’t fitted to the truck. Essentially what you are left with is the higher payload 10×4 that handles like the base 8×4,” said Rawstron.

The lightweight design of the COMPOSILITE EXS means it’s up to 315kg lighter than equivalent fixed lift axle suspension and dual tyre systems. 

As it features a steerable axle, it reduces scrub loads on drive tyres, increasing tyre and component life. 

The COMPOSILITE EXS has a lift of up to 200mm. As it’s liftable, it reduces tyre wear, thus increasing tyre life. The increased lift reduces the risk of axle hang up too.

Key to the COMPOSILITE EXS’s design is its patented STEERTEK Axle Technology, which utilises a fabricated box section design that has been thoroughly proven in steer applications, both in Australia and around the world. 

The product’s inset lower beams, with optimised lateral stiffness, eliminate the need for a V-rod or a transverse torque rod; while zero-torsion rubber bearings provide increased durability and bush life and therefore, less downtime. 

For more information, please visit the Hendrickson website at hendrickson.com.au.

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