Volvo Trucks' innovation a cost-saver for heavy haulage transporters

TECHNOLOGICAL advancements have made headway in the trucking industry, transforming and accelerating its growth. This has been nothing short of impressive and as a result, many transport companies are increasingly adopting technology to enhance efficiency and productivity. However, in today’s highly competitive markets with thin profit margins, these companies must decide wisely on their investment as adopting new technology requires upfront capital.

It is imperative that the upside that comes with such investment is potential savings and lowering of costs in the long run. Volvo Trucks’ tandem axle lift is an innovation that delivers immediate and long-term cost-saving benefits for heavy haulage transporters. Introduced in 2015, the tandem axle lift is a highly innovative function that gives optimum driving mode with fuel-saving capability and is designed for heavy-duty transport.

With tandem axle lift, fuel usage can be reduced by as much as 4% per lorry. When the lorry is without any load, the driver only needs to push a button on the dashboard to disengage and raise the drive axle so that fewer tyres and a lower amount of fuel are being used. As soon as the lorry is loaded for delivery, the drive axle automatically lowers and engages to ensure maximum road grip or traction and drivability.

It takes only about 15 seconds from start to finish. Tandem axle lift is especially ideal if the driver has to move a heavily loaded lorry to one destination but return empty. This is rather common for many transport companies hauling heavy load like timber, construction materials and bulk cargo operations.

With tandem axle lift, these companies can reduce fuel usage by as much as 4% per vehicle. Tandem axle lift also allows the driver to disengage and raise the second driven axle even while driving and lift up the lorry’s tyres by 140mm above the road surface. This function is very beneficial especially on soft and muddy surfaces as it can reduce the risk of the lorry getting stuck.

“The tandem axle lift is an exceptional technology created and offered by Volvo Trucks as part of our continuous series of solutions to enable trucks and drivers operating in tough conditions perform their work more efficiently and safely. “At Volvo Trucks, we continuously strive to create new innovations to give our customers unique solutions to boost their productivity, ” said Volvo Trucks Malaysia managing director Mitch Peden. When there is no load, the driver can disengage and raise the drive axle so that fewer tyres and less fuel are used.

One of Volvo Trucks’ long-standing customers, Sabah-based Kotamas Oil Sdn Bhd which is a specialist in petroleum haulage servicing clientele such as Petronas and Shell, is the first in the country to deploy and experience the tandem axle lift after receiving 15 units of its custom order Volvo FMX 440 6×4 prime movers that were fitted with the innovation at the end of last year. Kotamas’ decision to leverage Volvo’s tandem axle lift technology was factored by the hilly and rough terrain its lorries had to traverse, which demanded increased traction from the vehicle and often resulted in additional costs spent on tyres and fuel. The company also said the tandem axle lift technology, which enhances tyre traction and maintenance, helps them maintain their stellar safety record, which is extremely important given the type of cargo they transport.

When the axle is raised, the Volvo FMX 440 6×4 lorries used by Kotamas behave similarly to a 4×2 or a 6×2 lorry, resulting in a tighter turning radius and significantly improving manoeuvrability. It reduces the turning radius by over 1m, thus there is less wear on the truck’s tyres and suspension systems. “In any normal driving situation without the tandem axle lift function, the drive axles produce friction and rolling resistance, which increases the amount of fuel usage.

“By disengaging and raising the axle when the driver doesn’t need it, fuel consumption is reduced by up to 4% on a return trip with the axle lifted, and this can significantly improve business bottom line, ” according to Peden. “Our customer Kotamas has given us very positive feedback on their experience with our tandem axle lift technology, such as great drivability, lower fuel cost, less frequent tyre change and maintenance, and comfort for their drivers. “The tandem axle lift function has helped increase the lifespan of the tyres by three times and significantly improved fuel consumption.

“As a result, their overall truck maintenance and fuel cost has gone down and they are very pleased with it. “In addition, their drivers have more confidence and less worries about skidding or getting stuck in heavy mud when driving through challenging terrains. “With great traction, safety is markedly enhanced, allowing the business to run smoothly without any unwanted disruption, ” Peden said.

The tandem axle lift function also offers the driver better comfort when the truck is driven empty, which in many cases corresponds 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.

Volvo Trucks’ tandem axle lift function is available for the Volvo FM, Volvo FMX, Volvo FH and Volvo FH16, all of which are powered for heavy-duty tasks.

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