The increase in load capacity varies, but many axles can now take an extra tonne. or more. This opens the door to bigger assignments and greater loading efficiency.
Together with the lowest chassis heights, stronger axles allow the operator to take on bigger, bulkier and heavier cargo. They also make it easier to stay inside the boundaries of the law.
Low chassis height and high load capacity like no other truck
Johan Eknander is an engineer who enjoys thinking about axle configurations. A sparkle in his eye gives him away when he talks about them: “Axle configurations enable the customer to find the optimal solution. One that allows them to take assignments their competitors can’t, and get better economy out of the ones they have. With these new axles the right configuration might mean going from a double to a single front axle – saving capital, fuel and service costs.”
The SUV transporter
Volvo is known for its low chassis, but by increasing axle capacity the truck becomes more flexible. The new car transporter is an excellent example of this. It combines a very low chassis with a higher load capacity at the front. And thanks to its low cab height, it can take full advantage of this flexibility when SUVs need to be loaded on the higher deck.
“The same principle applies to a crane truck that needs a low superstructure with a low platform so it can be loaded up high – with a boat, for example,” adds Jonas Odermalm, Volvo’s manager for the construction segment.
Fewer wasted journeys
Jonas Odermalm continues to describe the practical benefits of greater axle strength. “Sometimes you go to pick up a container and realise the load is distributed in such a way that it can’t be managed without exceeding the payload on your front axle. Then you have to turn back without any cargo. Now that front leaf suspension can manage 10 tonnes this will happen less often.”
Another thing stronger axles help to overcome is the problem of diminishing load. When the truck has a full load evenly distributed there’s no problem. Then, as the cargo is removed from the back, perhaps when distributing to several places, there is nothing to counterbalance the cargo closest to the cab. At this point, the front axle of a rigid – or the drive axle of a tractor – can easily be overloaded.
“A stronger front axle can make it easier for the driver to load and unload in the most time efficient way. This, too, improves productivity,” adds Johan Eknander.
Get down and get heavy
Johan Eknander knows of no other truck that can match the new Volvo FM for its combination of low chassis height and high load capacity. And he doesn’t seem too worried about the competition catching up. “It’s involved a lot of work: reinforced axle hubs, stronger springs and new design criteria to cope with the extra stresses and strains. We’ve also worked with suppliers to develop tyres and wheel rims for greater loads with lower profiles.”
So what kind of operator will be able to make use of the improvement? “Every kind – wherever you have a truck loading to its limits the Volvo FM will have the advantage,” he concludes.
Browse the complete chassis specifications