Link Mfg. makers of specialty-engineered suspensions, suspension controls and air management products, unveiled what is said will become the industry’s first family of intelligent auxiliary suspension systems. With field testing in progress, the 8K, 10K, 13.5K and 20K ROI Auxiliary Suspensions Systems are expected to be commercially available in 2022. The products and the technology behind them were presented during a press conference at the Technology Maintenance Council (TMC) 2021 Fall Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition in Cleveland, Ohio.
Utilizing a traditional auxiliary suspension system generally requires a significant amount of guesswork, even for experienced vehicle operators. Unfortunately, in an era of increasing driver shortages and diminished experience levels, human error is common. While most systems allow the deployment pressure to be manually set, those auxiliary suspensions are still binary; they are either up or down.
“If an auxiliary suspension system is engaged when not needed, it can cause the tires to drag, or ‘scrub,’ negatively affecting tire wear, gas mileage and maintenance intervals,” said Mike Leakey, vice president of sales and marketing for Link Mfg. “Conversely, if auxiliary axles are not deployed when needed, the vehicle may not comply with local bridge laws, and the vehicle and its occupants may even be exposed to dangerous mechanical forces.”
Link developed its new, smart load-balancing suspensions using its proprietary Road Optimized Innovation (ROI) technology, which it first introduced in the company’s ROI Cabmate Cab Suspension in 2019.
“Link’s ROI technology is able to sense when the vehicle’s load has changed and automatically deploys or retracts the auxiliary suspension system as needed,” Eli DeGroff, product manager, road optimized innovations for Link Mfg., said in a statement. “Unlike traditional all-on or all-off auxiliary axles, Link’s smart suspensions are able to determine the load they need to bear and automatically adjust to precisely accommodate that weight.”
Intelligent suspensions like Link’s new 8K, 10K, 13.5K and 20K auxiliary offerings will automatically respond to the vehicle’s wheel traction and don’t need to be manually retracted. In snow, mud and other challenging conditions, Link’s ROI technology, working in conjunction with the vehicle’s ABS, will sense the absence of surface friction and will reduce pressure as needed to shift the requisite tractive force to the drive axles.
“With Link’s ROI Auxiliary Suspension System, fleets will be able to get new drivers trained and working in less time,” explained Leakey. “Exceeding axle ratings can be dangerous as well as costly due to unscheduled maintenance and fines. Now even novice drivers can avoid these issues, maintaining safety and efficiency.”