New products introduced at TTMA

ASSOCIATE MEMBERS of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association gave trailer manufacturers a preview of products they will introduce by year-end, along with a review of products that have been introduced recently.

Fifteen associate companies gave presentations this year. Each presenter had four minutes to deliver the news.

Here is a summary of what these companies had to say:

Grote mini-marker lamp coming this fall

The Grote Micronova is a high-intensity light source in a compact package. Available in red or amber, the LED marker lamp can be mounted on the front, side, rear, or corner of a trailer.

The Micronova snap-in mount fits in a standard 3/4" hole cut into material from 18 gauge to 1/4" thick. The Micronova also is available in grommet mount.

The lamps are hermetically sealed, with potted circuit boards and LEDs to resist moisture.

“It comes wired with pigtails for easy installation,” Grote's Eric Thorstensen said.

Initial production will be available in the fall, with full production expected in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Hendrickson increases undercarriage refinements

Undercarriage refinements are moving upward at Hendrickson International. Gary Gerstenslager provided information on a series of upgrades, including a large diameter trailer axle that is 20-27 pounds lighter than conventional 5" diameter axles. The larger diameter allows for thinner walls while still providing a 14% increase in bending and torsional stiffness.

Also new at Hendrickson are air disc brakes. Available as a premium option on many Intraax and Vantraax suspensions, the brakes are the result of the company's partnership with Haldex Commercial Vehicle Systems. The brakes are expected to be a tool that manufacturers can use to achieve the shorter stopping distances that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering implementing. A special torque plate on Hendrickson axles will accommodate multiple disc brake designs.

The electronically controlled air brake system is compatible with other advanced technologies such as roll stability systems.

Webb Wheel takes aim at trailer OEM market

Webb Wheel is an established company that has begun targeting the trailer OEM market, according to Kent Finkbiner.

To focus on trailer manufacturers, Webb has reorganized into separate business units, each of which will serve specific market segments, including trailer manufacturers.

“Benefits include dedicated production facilities and a dedicated organization focused entirely on the OEM trailer business,” Finkbiner said.

Webb completed a new production facility in Tell City, Indiana. Production, which has ramped up through the first few months of 2005, is committed to high-volume production. To help make this possible, Webb is reducing the number of parts the company will produce.

Finkbiner also provided information on Webb's new ductile hub that is 12-18 pounds lighter than comparable hubs.

KIC Group specializing in delivering goods

Reflecting the major change in how products are sourced, Greg Hatton told TTMA that his company, KIC Group, had been one of the largest exporters of components for trailers. The company is now one of the largest importers of trailer components.

“More companies in our country are investing in China, and more Chinese companies will be investing in the United States,” Hatton said.

Trade with China has increased from $40 billion to $200 billion in the last 10 years. Hatton said that, despite its major trade surplus with the United States, the Chinese overall import almost as much as they export.

While it is possible to buy directly from China, Hatton said companies like KIC provide added value. He cited the partnership his company has with one of the leading wheel-end manufacturers in Asia.

Holland landing gear fights corrosion

Few products are subjected to more corrosive environments that the landing gear of trailers. To make its landing gear more corrosion resistant, The Holland Group announced that it will begin using Black Armour metal treatment in June, according to Darrell Thompson.

Black Armour is not paint or a coating, Holland said in a video. Components to which the metal treatment is applied withstand 175,000 miles of travel in typical road and weather conditions virtually untouched. According to Holland, Black Armour is designed to react with any metal that oxidizes, growing a skin that is extremely resistant to water penetration. When struck, the skin compresses and remains intact.

It can be topcoated with conventional paints and requires no pretreatment.

Todco composite doors resist moisture

A new door from Todco is designed to provide the advantages of wood without the liabilities.

“For the past 50 years, the primary substrate for doors has been wood,” Todco's Scott Blackford said. “Plywood has shown to have good performance characteristics — strength, deflection resistance, and a good performance-to-cost ratio. But plywood also has some inherent deficiencies, including water absorption and increasingly unstable prices.”

Todco says polycomposite substrates give overhead doors more of what customers want and less of what they don't. Because the new material is impervious to water, the door will not swell, rot, or delaminate. Paint adhesion is also improved because water cannot penetrate the base material. Yet the material also shares many of the properties of plywood, including ease of repair and the ability to accept fasteners.

Ancra adds new twist to cargo winches

A cargo winch that tightens like a ratchet wrench is now available from Ancra International, Paul Wolford said.

Ancra's SilverCap cargo winch can be tightened without removing the winch bar. The self-contained ratchet mechanism is permanently lubricated and protected for dirt intrusion.

The winch carries a 6,000-pound working load limit rating.

The SilverCap ratchet can be installed on all existing Ancra winches at the time of manufacture. This includes sliding, weld-on, and portable winches.

Austin Westran powder coats landing gear

Austin Westran has a proprietary powder coating that protects its landing gear against corrosion, according to a video presentation by Joe Gallo.

Keys to the success of the system are the surface preparation and pretreatment process of the landing gear. Powder is then applied inside and outside of each component to a thickness of 2.5-3.5 mils.

The powder coat finish will be available this summer as a standard feature.

Ridewell Suspensions gets acquainted

Ridewell Suspensions, a new member of TTMA, introduced itself during the associates program. Rick Rickman mentioned two products during his presentation:

  • The Ridewell MonoPivot 240 is a heavy-duty service suspension that is available in over-slung and under-slung configurations. The suspension does not require U-bolts. It also has clamp-in bushings that permits bushings to be replaced with simple hand tools.

  • The RideLite, as its name implies, is lightweight and is priced competitively. It is designed for platform, tank, dump, grain, and other specialized trailers.

Waltco announces ‘trailer-friendly’ liftgate

A liftgate designed specifically for trailers is now available from Waltco Truck Equipment, president Rod Robinson announced during his company's first appearance at TTMA.

“I am here today to present to you a product that is more trailer-friendly to this industry, something that the liftgate industry has not been good at doing in the past,” Robinson said.

The company's Glide-Trac GT Series liftgate mounts beneath the rear of the trailer, bolted to the crossmembers. The liftgate extends out from beneath the trailer when needed and tucks tightly out of the way when not in use. Because of the location and the compact envelope in which the liftgate is stored, it does not interfere with door operation and has minimal impact on hauling capabilities.

The liftgate comes completely assembled and filled with hydraulic oil, significantly reducing installation times.

Bendix ABS integrates with tire inflation system

The Bendix trailer antilock brake system can now be integrated with the Dana tire inflation and monitoring system, according to Paul Waszkowski, product manager for Bendix trailer products.

The TABS 6 was introduced at last year's TTMA convention. It is available in two models — the standard 2S/1M only and a premium module that has up to four sensors and three modulators. It is the premium system that Bendix is integrating with the Dana tire inflation and monitoring system.

“This is the first of many joint product development efforts that will go beyond the Bendix-Spicer brake foundation,” Waszkowski said.

Dana recently introduced several improvements to the tire inflation system, including a new wiring harness, lighter molded plastic design for the pneumatic controller, and push-to-connect fittings that speed the assembly process.

The integration of the two systems occurs at the TABS 6 controller, which can now regulate the functions of the tire inflation and monitoring system. This included the measurement of actual tire pressure — not just airflow. It also pressurizes the tire system only when needed. The integrated system is scheduled to be available in June 2005.

ArvinMeritor composite spring ‘Similair’ to air-ride

The Similair composite trailer spring from ArvinMeritor gets its name from the purpose for which it was designed — to provide a ride that is similar to air suspensions, Bob Zirlin explained in his TTMA presentation.

The composite spring, however, offers several advantages over air-ride suspensions, according to ArvinMeritor. The Similair suspension has no air bags, shock absorbers, or leveling valves. The result is a suspension that weighs less and costs less. The company says the suspension is 100 pounds lighter than comparable mechanical leaf suspensions and 250 pounds lighter than comparable air suspensions.

Production is scheduled to begin in the third quarter, with full production planned in the fourth quarter, Zirlin said.

SFI provides custom steel components

SFI of Tennessee provides contract manufacturing of carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum components, many of which are used in the truck trailer manufacturing industry, according to Eddie Holomon.

The company has locations in Conway, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. Helping fabricate custom products is an array of computer-controlled machine tools, including lasers, plasma cutters, and punch presses. A team of robotic welders can automate complex welding. The company also provides finishes — including paint and powder coating.

Staff engineers can work with trailer manufacturers to develop ways to save costs without sacrificing quality, the company says.

Dana announces new SmartRide suspension

The Dana Spicer SmartRide RN40 trailer suspension series is more than 200 pounds lighter than previous models, according to Pat Brandt.

The suspension's trailing arm, cross members, and intercostals are key areas where weight reductions were made. The RN40 incorporates a narrow hangar design, which is used throughout the heavy-duty trailer industry.

A 4¼-inch wide bushing is larger than competitive designs. The trailing arm was shape-optimized using Dana's proprietary design software to identify places where weight can be reduced. The new design of the trailing arm also allows the shock absorber to be placed in a more vertical position to provide better ride quality.

Bendix extended service truck-style brakes allow parts commonality to reduce inventories for fleets by up to 40 percent, while the self-contained short brake-cam improves braking performance and response. Three box widths are available, including 54-inch boxes to accommodate the growing use of wide base single tires.

Busy ride for Accuride

It has been a busy several months for Accuride, according to Tom Cunningham.

The company acquired Transportation Technologies in January, an acquisition that has helped make Accuride a $1 billion company.

“The companies we have purchased have one thing in common — they all are focused on the transportation industry,” Cunningham said. The companies include Accuride, Bostrum Seating, Gunite, Fabco, and The Imperial Group.

“Some of these companies are deeply involved in the Class 8 truck business,” Cunningham said. “It's our goal to bring some of that focus to the trailer industry.”

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