Given the sheer number of new products Woodridge, IL-based Hendrickson International rolled out at a news conference last month, it's not surprising to learn the suspension maker has 80 product-development engineers on staff and earmarks 4% of its revenue to product development.

“To respond to our customers,” explained president Joe Ross, “we have multi-discipline product-development teams that move new ideas through [formal] phases to reach the market faster.”

According to Keith Stephenson, senior vp-global operations, Hendrickson is “committed to anticipating customer needs and rapidly developing innovative solutions that provide lowest cost of ownership.”

Stephenson and other executives detailed new developments:

HTB REAR AIR SUSPENSION

For Class 8 trucks, this lightweight “non-torque reactive” suspension weighs 570 lbs. It will be available next year as a premium product designed to provide low maintenance and an improved ride.

Its design, using parallelogram geometry, eliminates leaf springs and reduces other components, saving up to 250 lbs. over industry-standard suspensions.

The HTB (for Hendrickson Torque Box) design “eliminates the frame rise characteristic of trailing arm suspensions,” according to program manager Michael Brannigan. “Driveline angles are maintained throughout axle travel, thereby minimizing suspension-induced driveline vibration.”

That translates into a smoother ride for the driver, less noise and reduced wear and tear on driveline components. In addition, said Brannigan, “most components require zero maintenance and are designed to last the life of the truck.”

SSR MONOLEAF

Hendrickson's new single-leaf front truck suspension spring saves 40 lbs. vs. a traditional two-leaf spring in a 12,000-lb. capacity unit. And if paired with the maker's Steertek fabricated steel axle, 70 lbs. can be trimmed compared to a traditional two-leaf spring on a forged I-beam axle.

The SSR Monoleaf comes in axle capacities of 8,000, 10,000 and 12,000 lbs. Its parabolic design is credited with providing an optimal balancer of spring rate, stress and weight for an “outstanding ride.” And its geometry minimizes shackle movement-enabling Hendrickson's patent-pending “shackle-stop technology to integrate the axle alignment redundancy feature.”

WIDE-BASE VANTRAAX

Hendrickson has added a 65-in. wide box to its Vantraax slider suspensions to accommodate wide-based single tires.

The wide box comes is rated 40,00-lbs capacity. It has an 83.5-in. axle track and all standard equipment and options

According to Hendrickson, replacing each set of dual wheels with a single tire setup along with a lightweight Vantraax system can save over 350 lbs. on a trailer.

AERO BRIGHT BUMPERS

The Hendrickson Aero Bright (HAB) is the industry's first “mirror-finish, non-metal” bumper and is designed to “deliver durability .and high impact resistance in a lightweight package.”

Merging a “weatherable film” onto engineered thick-sheet thermoplastics creates a bumper that combines “the light weight of plastic with the luster of chrome.” The company said it holds exclusive rights this technology in the Class 5-8 industry and it may also use be adapted to grilles, headlight bezels and other parts.

OTHER NEWS

Hendrickson said it plans next year to begin phase-in of the large-diameter axle (LDA) to its trailer suspension systems with the narrow-beam Intraax.

The company said the shift to an LDA for North America will increase the diameter of the traditional 5-in. axle about 3/4-in to allow use of a thinner axle wall that will enhance strength and reduce weight. Depending on axle capacity, LDA will generate a weight savings of 20-27 lbs per axle.

Hendrickson said next year it will release a 52,000-lb. capacity Haulmaax suspension for severe-service applications. It will also add a 72.5-in beam option.

Also new is the Firemaax rear air suspension for fire & rescue vehicles. Derived from the Primaax air-ride unit, it automatically adjusts to variations in load and road conditions.

www.hendrickson-intl.com or 304