Spotlight: Suspensions & Steering Innovations in the Commercial Vehicle Industry

In the realm of commercial vehicles, advancements in steering and suspension technology have not only enhanced safety but also increased efficiency and comfort. This article dives into the latest offerings from ten leading companies that are steering the future of the commercial vehicle industry. These innovations cater to various needs—from easing installation processes to improving durability and reducing maintenance costs.

Bendix: Pioneering Driver Assistance with Sheppard Steering Assist

Enhanced Safety with Bendix's Steering Assist System

Bendix has taken a significant leap with its Sheppard Steering Assist System, designed not as a driver replacement but as a pivotal driver assistance technology. This system, integrated with the Bendix Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system, aims to curb unintended lane departures and mitigate side-swipe crashes. The underlying technology of this system is the Sheppard HD94 steering gear, known for its quick steering ratio which requires fewer hand-wheel turns, making it ideal for large wheelbase vehicles.

Compact and Efficient Design

The Sheppard Steering Assist System uses existing hydraulic steering power combined with magnetic torque overlay technology to activate the steering gear. This integration not only saves space and weight but also enhances the steering assist features significantly. By detecting lane lines and vehicle positions, the Wingman Fusion system boosts the steering assist performance, ensuring a safer driving experience.

Cummins: Simplifying Steering Axle Maintenance with FastSet

FastSet No-Ream King Pin Kit

Cummins introduces the Meritor FastSet No-Ream King Pin Kit, which is revolutionizing the installation and repair of front steering axles. This kit eliminates the need for reamers, presses, and the pressing-in of bushings during installation. The spiral bushings, which are part of this kit, can be installed manually using the FastSet T-Handle tool, saving significant time and labor costs.

Grooved Design for Better Lubrication

The kingpin in the FastSet kit features a grooved pattern which not only eases installation but also enhances lubrication. This design innovation does away with the need for post-installation reaming, thereby reducing costs and labor significantly. The variety in pin diameters and lengths makes these kits versatile for different application needs.

EMCO: Ensuring Quality with American-Made Leaf Springs

Advanced Testing and Quality Assurance

EMCO stands out with its 22.5K HD leaf springs, crafted exclusively in the USA for trailer OEMs, the aftermarket, and fleets. Utilizing advanced fatigue testing and finite element software for modeling, alongside in-house salt spray and hardness testing, EMCO ensures top-notch product quality. Each leaf spring carries a manufacturer’s lot code for full traceability and quality control.

ISO Certification and Robotic Manufacturing

Being ISO 9001:2015 certified, EMCO’s commitment to quality is evident in its manufacturing processes, which include the use of robotic cells. This ensures consistent quality across all products, reducing variability and enhancing reliability.

Gabriel North America: Enhancing Shock Absorber Durability

FleetLine 85000 Series Shocks

Gabriel’s FleetLine 85000 series shocks are designed with a larger 1 5/8-inch bore to improve durability and tensile strength. The shocks feature a 360-degree arc-welded end mount and forged solid steel eye rings, which help reduce end mount failure. The inclusion of a self-compensating piston seal ensures consistent damping ability and minimizes fade over the shock's lifespan.

High-Temperature Fluid for Reduced Friction

Gabriel has also engineered these shocks with a custom-blended high-temperature fluid that reduces friction and wear, particularly in extreme operating conditions. This fluid, coupled with ten-stage valving, provides drivers with enhanced comfort and control, ensuring durability and self-cleaning functionality for extended performance.

Hendrickson: Combining Comfort and Efficiency with Airtek Nxt

Air Suspension and Steer Axle Integration

Hendrickson introduces Airtek Nxt, an innovative integration of front air suspension and steer axle system. This system not only provides superior ride quality and comfort but also improves roll stability compared to traditional front spring suspensions. With a focus on reducing weight, Airtek Nxt is lighter by up to 155 lbs compared to similar systems, aiding in improved load capacity and fuel efficiency.

Maintenance-Friendly Design

Designed with fleet maintenance in mind, Airtek Nxt features durable bushings that require no lubrication and offers extended service intervals. Its two-piece knuckle design simplifies servicing by eliminating the need to remove the kingpin to access the knuckle, saving time and reducing maintenance costs.

Conclusion: Steering the Future

The commercial vehicle industry continues to evolve with these technological advancements in suspensions and steering systems. From Bendix's safety-oriented designs to Hendrickson's integrated systems, these innovations not only promise enhanced safety and efficiency but also aim to meet the diverse needs of the industry. As these technologies advance, they pave the way for safer, more efficient, and comfortable commercial vehicles, steering the future towards a more reliable and optimized automotive landscape.