Citing a trend away from air-ride and toward mechanical trailer suspensions, SAF-Holland has introduced an integrated suspension-axle-brake product that it claims is the lightest tandem slider system in the North American market.

The ULX40 UltraLite system uses SAF Uber composite leaf springs, along with SAF tubular axles and drum or disc brakes. It is the only integrated mechanical-type trailer product available, said Jeff Talaga, executive VP for trailer systems.

The four springs, of a proprietary composite material, save about 125 pounds over steel leafs, will last longer, and ride almost as well as air bags. Its capacity is 40,000 pounds and it’s meant primarily for dry-freight vans, but could also be used on refrigerated trailers, he said.

“This new spring-ride suspension product will change the way fleets look at mechanical suspensions,” Talaga said. “It’s an engineered all-in-one system that is lighter weight, offers a lower total cost of ownership, and the industry’s first 10-year suspension and axle system warranty.

“It will be spec’d by on-highway fleets in the van industry who are looking for a versatile option to help reduce costs for their hauling requirements.”

The composite springs provide the performance of an air ride without the complexity, yet ride quality and handling is comparable. And, it’s simpler and easier to maintain because it has fewer components – no shock absorbers, no air springs, no height control valves, and no dock-lock devices. Components are easily visible, allowing for quick and easy routine inspection.

Maintenance savings should add up to $650 per trailer over 10 years, Talaga said. Acquisition cost will be similar to air-ride.  The ULX40 includes a 5.75-inch diameter axle, which is over 30% more rigid than the industry-standard 5-inch-diameter axle.

Its weight savings provide more payload, measurable fuel savings, and an estimated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of up to 150 pounds per year.