Over the last decade a lot of trucks have put on weight. Today many tractors reach the threshold where their Gross Vehicle Weight can exceed 18 tonnes when laden. This is the point where one extra kilo on the tractor takes three kilos off the payload, due to counterbalance.
Thanks to Volvo’s weight optimisation programme the standard 4×2 FM tractor has lost weight, so it’s looking good. More importantly, it’s a weight loss without compromise – as the programme is tailored to the application of each truck.
Everyone’s talking weight gain
“Losing weight also has to do with minimising fuel consumption, but as tractors reach this threshold the biggest consequences have to do with payload,” begins segment manager, Jonas Odermalm. All this was in mind when the weight programme was initi-ated. “One objective was to offset any weight increase brought about in meeting Euro 6. But things turned out better than expected: while others are talking about weight gain, we’re losing 75 kilos.”
Everybody is talking weight gain,
we’re losing 75 kilos
Where were the extra kilos?
“We were able to find weight reduction potential in various places. On the front engine anchorage, the frame itself, one or two cross members and the rear cab anchorage, to name a few. These are small improvements – a couple of kilos here, a few there. Separately they’re nothing, but put them all together and it’s a significant reduction.”
Jonas Odermalm goes on to explain how this has been made possible. Two of the aspects are improved manufacturing processes and better control over material quality on individual components. Such as the new knuckles with integrated steering arms.
Knowledge is power
“Above all we have applied our understanding of the market segments. By knowing exactly how each truck is driven we can optimise the design criteria for the specific application.” Standing at the whiteboard, Jonas Odermalm seems to have drawn a grid that includes every conceivable truck application. But in simplified terms “there’s no point in having off-road axle configurations on a truck made for smooth conditions.”
Long haul business manager, Christer Pehrsson speaks up from across the table, “When you can calculate the exact stresses and strains on every single part, a standard solution is senseless. That just makes most trucks heavier than they need to be. And you know our position on safety – we never take chances.”
Who should be reading this?
Volvo’s research shows that one in four customers are weight sensitive. Or in other words: they have to plan carefully to avoid exceeding maximum payloads (and penalties). Naturally, anybody driving hazardous goods such as fuel will have extra reason to keep an eye on the payload.
How 75 kilos became 225
Returning to the counterbalance effect of the trailer on the tractor, when the Gross Vehicle Weight is approaching 18 tonnes, the new Volvo FM’s weight loss is worth three times more in payload potential. In some cases, this means the payload of the new Volvo FM is increased by 225 kilos.
“So for the trucks out there that are gaining perhaps 150 kilos to meet Euro 6, some customers may be unfortunate enough to see a fall in payload of nearly half a tonne.” While Jonas Odermalm marvels at his own words, Christer Pehrsson captures the essence: “That casts new light on driving around with 75 kilos more hardware than you actually need.”