Hendrickson expands suspension products

HENDRICKSON International rolled out a cornucopia of new products at the Great American Trucking Show August 24-26 in Dallas, Texas. Company officials also discussed plans to build a stronger global presence.

New products targeted both trucks and trailers. On the truck suspension front, Hendrickson is introducing two rear suspensions, the Softek Plus and Vocational Airtek, and an independent front suspension that hasn't yet been named. On the trailer side, the company is introducing a new generation of P-90 wheel-end spindles, the second generation of its Hendrickson Unitized System (HUS) along with a brand new HNP wheel end designed to offer a new equipment option between the P- and N-spindles commonly used on trailer wheel ends. Company officials also announced that a platform is coming in 2007 for disk brake technology.

Softek Plus is already available in the market. It uses a monoleaf design with a proprietary Hendrickson front axle. It saves up to 110 pounds over competitive front suspension.

Coming in 2007, the Vocational Airtek is based on the company's original Airtek, but with more capacity, less weight, and a better ride. The Vocational model will be available in 16,000-, 18,000-, and 20,000-lb configurations.

The new independent front suspension also will go into production in 2007 for heavy-duty vehicles. The system will weigh 200 pounds less than competitors' products. It will have a 12,600-lb capacity rating and a 60-degree wheel cut.

Turning to trailer products, Hendrickson officials said the company has focused designs that give customers flexibility in the way they configure running gear. “In addition to delivering weight savings, durability, and outstanding performance, HNP and HUS wheel-end systems provide complete system integration from axle through wheel end and feature the advantage of a single wheel source,” said Jeff Shahan, program manager, Hendrickson Trailer Suspension Systems.

The HNP wheel end utilizes ADI (Dura-Light) material, for one of the most durable and lightweight wheel ends on the market. HUS wheel ends feature a seven-year limited warranty. The wheel end reduces maintenance and helps increase uptime by eliminating seal and bearing replacement every 250,000 or 500,000 miles. In addition, factory installation of both HNP and HUS systems achieves an advanced bearing setting and locks out contaminates from the assembly process — to increase bearing life and help reduce bearing maintenance. Hendrickson's patented axle filter provides additional protection from contaminates.

For haulers adopting today's wide-base tire configurations, the exclusive P90 spindle gives fleets the choice to use either wide-base or dual tires. This 90mm parallel spindle also promotes even lubrication for the bearings. The versatile HNP and HUS systems accommodate both the zero-offset and two-inch outset wheel-end applications for wide-base tires as well as duals.

These product development efforts are part of Hendrickson's new global expansion strategy, as it seeks to become less reliant on North America to provide the bulk of its business. Management discussed several recent developments in overseas ventures.

Hendrickson opened an engineering and sales office in Shanghai, China, in August 2005. Hendrickson also launched a 50/50 joint venture with Tata AutoComp Systems Limited (TACO) to produce a full range of truck, trailer, and bus suspensions for India.

Hendrickson and its parent company (The Boler Company) increased their equity position in an existing joint venture, Muelles y Ballestas Hispano-Alemanas, SA, (MBHA) in Valencia, Spain. The MBHA joint venture has been a successful partnership with Investzuir SL of Spain, and has become an important part of Hendrickson's global spring business. The operation has facilities in Canada, Mexico, Spain and Portugal, as well as an alliance in Brazil.

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