The 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. - Image courtesy Hendrickson

The 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.

Image courtesy Hendrickson

Headlining several new products introduced at Hendrickson’s Oct. 29 press conference at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show was the Haulmaax EX, which the manufacturer calls the next generation in heavy-duty rubber suspensions.

Available in capacities of 40,000, 46,000, and 52,000 pounds, Haulmaax EX is approved for a variety of vocational applications, according to Hendrickson.

Due to advancements in the progressive load spring technology, the company said 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, said Hendrickson. “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.”

In addition, to address the growing demand for rubber suspensions across all vocational applications, the Haulmaax EX suspension geometry is optimized 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 70,000 pounds site rating for the 46,000-pound capacity suspension,” said Ashley Dudding, director of engineering for Hendrickson Truck Commercial Vehicle System. The suspension is “extremely rugged, supporting the most demanding vocational applications and offering capacities up to 52,000 pounds.”

New System Adjusts Tire Pressure by Load

Hendrickson also introduced its next-generation tire pressure control system, the Tiremaax Pro-LB. Building on the technology of the existing Tiremaax Pro system, Tiremaax Pro, which can inflate, relieve and equalize tire pressures across all wheel positions, Tiremaax Pro-LB adds the ability to adjust tire pressure based on load.

“The consensus in the market is that most trailer tires are inflated to a pressure greater than necessary for the typical load. The cold tire target pressure setting is often selected based on a maximum expected load, which may only occur occasionally,” said Matt Wilson, director of controls business unit at Hendrickson Trailer Commercial Vehicle System.

“A load-based tire pressure control system allows for an optimal tire pressure, providing the opportunity to reduce tire wear without negatively affecting fuel economy,” he added.

According to Hendrickson, unlike a passenger car, commercial vehicles experience significant changes in overall vehicle weight between the loaded and unloaded condition. The change is so significant the optimum air pressure for the tires is different for loaded versus unloaded vehicles. But the new system “helps eliminate the guesswork of tire pressure management. By monitoring the pressure in the air springs, the new system will react to changing loads automatically, with no input from the driver.”

As Hendrickson sees it, “now it’s possible for fleets to more accurately achieve the optimum tire pressure during all driving conditions – hot and cold, at sea level and at altitude, and now, empty and loaded. “

Tiremaax Pro-LB will become available in the first half of 2020.

Advanced Wheel-End Sensor Technology

Hendrickson also announced the launch of its Watchman advanced wheel-end sensor technology for trailers, which operates on the vehicle area network developed by Sensata Technologies (NYSE: ST). The initial product offering will include trailer tire pressure monitoring, wheel-end temperature and wheel-end vibration data that will be communicated to the fleet through the tractor telematics system pulling the trailer.

The company noted that it’s working with the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop standards for the industry in the communication of data and fault codes for trailer wheel-end information.

“This common platform will allow the new Hendrickson Watchman wheel-end sensor to be used by OEM manufacturers to provide crucial data from the trailers to their customers,” said Omar Fernandez, director of marketing at Hendrickson Trailer Commercial Vehicle System.

Early warnings of vibration or heat in the wheel-ends will minimize the cost of repairs and maintenance of these crucial components, Hendrickson pointed out. The wheel-end sensor kit will include four battery powered wheel-end sensors that transmit wireless RF signals to the Sensata gateway module, which collects data from the sensors and will be used as the communication hub for the trailer.

The information will then be transmitted from the Sensata gateway module to the tractor electronic control unit, either via a wireless link or hard-wired, and will utilize the SAE J1939 communication protocol.  Additionally, the wheel-end data output from the Sensata gateway module will be made available to on-board trailer telematics devices for transmission to the fleet’s back office.

Future enhancements planned for the Watchman system include adding advanced wheel-end algorithms into the Sensata gateway module as well as offering new sensors on brake pads to communicate brake pad wear and suspension sensors to provide load sensing for each axle on the trailer.

Initially, this wheel-end sensor technology will be offered with Hendrickson HXL Extended Life wheel-ends and will launch in early 2020 with a limited quantity release and full production slated for later in the year.

Composite Spring Acquisition Completed

Hendrickson reported that it has completed its acquisition of Liteflex Composite Springs, a Dayton, Ohio-based global manufacturer of advanced composite suspension springs.

The acquisition includes intellectual property, manufacturing facilities and equipment in the Dayton 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.

“The acquisition of additional composite spring technology will enhance Hendrickson’s product portfolio,” said Gary Gerstenslager, president and CEO of Hendrickson. “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.”

Trailer Systems Plant Expanded

Hendrickson has expanded its Trailer Commercial Vehicle Systems operations in Northeastern Ohio by opening its sixth trailer suspension plant. The new 180,000 square foot manufacturing facility will have the capacity to manufacture axles and suspensions for vocational and on-highway trailers.

“This $50 million, state-of-the-art facility will increase capacity and aid in the support of North American customers as well as other Hendrickson divisions,” said Gary Gerstenslager.

 “This new facility location was picked to share synergies between our trailer engineering team and our manufacturing staff with hands-on daily interaction. This real-time feedback is invaluable in supplying our customers with the highest quality products possible,” said Perry Bahr, vice president Hendrickson Trailer Commercial Vehicle System.

In Other News…

Hendrickson also noted other new developments from the company, including:

  • Launch of its Optimaax forward liftable tandem axle system and Airtek NXT steer axle and air suspension system for the Freightliner Cascadia truck model. The company said the Optimaax is an innovative 6×2 solution designed to help fleets save fuel cost, tire 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.”
  • Rollout of Chamber Up, a lightweight, maintenance-friendly air disc brake option designed to maximize brake component life while providing a weight savings of 33 pounds per slider system. He option locates the brake chamber above the suspension trailing arm in a more protected location within the slider.  This provides up to 60% more ground clearance than standard designs, which helps minimize the likelihood of damage to the brake chamber due to road debris or other obstacles.  Additionally, rotating the orientation of the disc brake system offers improved access to the brake pads and brake retaining hardware to help simplify maintenance when the system must be serviced. 
  • Expansion of its Steertek NXT portfolio of fabricated front steer axles to include 8K, 10K and 12K capacities for the medium duty vehicle segments. The new 10K and 12K configurations are now available to order on International MV trucks and IC Bus CE Series buses as optional equipment with 8K availability coming in 2020. 

Hendrickson also noted that it recently moved its corporate headquarters to 840 South Frontage Road, Woodridge, Illinois. The facility was designed to showcase the company’s history, product innovations, and the future of Hendrickson. The 77,000 square foot facility is situated next to Hendrickson Truck Commercial Vehicle Systems. “This venue is the perfect location for collaboration with our customers. The move of the corporate headquarters will harbor Hendrickson’s growth for many years to come,” said Gary Gerstenslager.

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