The new tandem axle lift function of Swedish vehicle manufacturer Volvo Trucks’ vehicles makes it possible for a truck to disengage and raise the second driven axle during operation, thereby providing a better road grip and lowering fuel consumption when a truck is driven without a load.
“Volvo Trucks is now launching the tandem axle lift, designed for heavy-duty transports, for when loads are carried one way and an empty truck needs to make a return trip,” notes the company.
The tandem axle lift function is available for the Volvo FM, Volvo FMX, Volvo FH and Volvo FH16 truck models.
"With the tandem axle lift function, the second driven axle can be disengaged and its wheels raised off the road when the truck is driven without a load. This offers several advantages, of which the foremost is fuel savings. Driving with the second driven axle raised saves up to 4% in fuel, compared with having all the axles lowered," says Volvo Trucks Construction segment manager Jonas Odermalm.
He explains that, by replacing the differential in the first driven axle with a dog clutch, the second driven axle can be disengaged and raised. The driver, therefore, has access to the power and capacity of two driven axles (6 × 4) and also the better maneuverability of a single driven axle (4 × 2).
Driving with the second driven axle raised also cuts the turning circle by a metre and imposes less wear on tyres and suspension systems. Further, the tyres can be lifted 140 mm off the road surface.
"Tandem axle lift is ideal for transports where ground conditions or gross vehicle weights demand a tandem-drive truck, but where the vehicle returns empty or lightly loaded in the opposite direction. Moreover, on slippery or soft surfaces, the driver can increase pressure on the first axle by raising the second driven axle, which results in better grip and reduces the risk of getting stuck," explains Odermalm.
He adds that the tandem axle lift also offers the driver better comfort when the truck is driven empty, which in many cases amounts to 50% of the operating time. The in-cab noise level is lower and steering wheel vibration is reduced when only the tyres of one drive axle are in contact with the road.
In its aim to further improve productivity, Volvo Trucks earlier this year launched another five new features and series of solutions that enable trucks and drivers operating in tough conditions to perform their work more efficiently.
“Volvo trucks have a solid reputation for their quality and drivelines. By adding new, innovative features we give our customers access to a broader range of options and unique ways to improve productivity," says Volvo Trucks Brand VP Ricard Fritz.
These features include dynamic steering for dual front axles; increased front axle loads for dual front axles; five-axle trucks for 10×4 and 10×6; rear air suspension, in combination with driven front axle for the Volvo FMX; as well as an electronic brake system for drum brakes.
Volvo’s dynamic steering comprises an electric motor that compensates for vibration and steering wheel movement, while reducing the amount of force needed to steer the truck.
Further, Volvo's heavy-duty trucks with dual front axles and increased front axle loads increase the maximum technical capacity from 18 t to 20 t. The company notes that the extra load capacity translates directly into increased income-earning potential. Higher load capacity above the front axles also permits a greater variety of crane configurations and enables other applications with considerable weight on the front axles.
To further meet the demand for heavier applications both on highways and in construction areas, Volvo Trucks has launched factory-built five-axle combinations. The two front axles manage up to 20 t of maximum load and the three rear axles can handle up to 36 t, resulting in both increased payload and greater flexibility.
Meanwhile, the rear air suspension in combination with driven front axle permits enhanced comfort, as well as ground clearance of at least 300 mm and effective protection for all vulnerable components.
The electronic brake system’s electronics further provide access to a range of intelligent functions, such as Hill Start Aid for better control on steep gradients and enhanced safety features.