Omar Fernández
Director General
Hendrickson Mexicana
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View from the Top

Advanced Suspension Systems Being Rolled out Across Mexico

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 11:24

Q: What have been the highlights of Hendrickson’s contribution to the development of the Mexican automotive sector over more than 50 years?

A: Over that half a century, Hendrickson has been a key contributor to the Mexican automotive market. We introduced state-of-the-art suspension systems such as the equalizing beam, as well as mechanical suspensions which are still widely used in Mexico today. Hendrickson Mexicana played a major role in working with the weights and dimensions law and helped to obtain approval for additional load requirements per axle on units using air suspension systems. The usage of this type of suspension resulted in the further protection of roads and increased safety. Hendrickson developed INTRAAX, the first fully integrated air suspension and axle brake system in the Mexican market for trailer applications. Today, INTRAAX has become the standard trailer suspension system in Mexico. In addition, Hendrickson was a pioneer in launching the Large Diameter Axle (LDA) on INTRAAX suspensions which delivered a stronger and lighter axle than the industry standard.

Hendrickson also launched STEERTEK, the first fabricated front axle in the industry, delivering a lighter and stronger front axle compared to a traditional forged axle. Our latest contribution is the development of the TIREMAAX PRO, which constantly monitors and equalizes tire pressure by using the trailer’s air supply. It is the first tire inflation and deflation system which extends tire life by continually maintaining a constant tire pressure on the trailer axles.

Q: To what extent do consumer preferences influence Hendrickson’s innovations?

A: By anticipating the needs of our customers and the industry, Hendrickson designs and develops products targeted at improving the efficiency and the bottom lines of OEMs, fleets, and owner-operators. Many of our latest products, such as OPTIMAAX, SOFTEK NXT, and ULTRAA-K, deliver significant weight savings allowing the end user to haul more loads and improve fuel economy. Although these products are much lighter, they must also meet the unwavering standards for durability and reduced maintenance associated with the Hendrickson name. Along with weight savings, our team also strives to deliver improved ride, handling, and stability on each of our new axle and suspension systems. Through ongoing consultation with drivers and fleets, Hendrickson will continue to anticipate our customer’s needs, and design and build suspension systems that deliver results that exceed our customers’ expectations.

Q: How have you transferred the demands of military applications to the medium and heavy duty sectors?

A: Hendrickson really took a different approach when it came to transferring technologies between military and commercial applications. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Hendrickson developed a hydro-pneumatic suspension that was introduced into military applications and is still used today. This suspension was then rolled out in the commercial industry for large firefighting vehicles used at airports all over North America. This was the one technology driven by military that transferred into the commercial industry. Since then, Hendrickson has actually taken its commercial industry technologies and transferred them to military applications. Hendrickson used the independent front suspension technology for recreational vehicles as a platform for development and designed an integrated independent drive axle system for both front and rear suspensions used on MRAP vehicles. Hendrickson has also made other advancements with components for military vehicles which will soon make it into the commercial industry.

Q: What is the added value of the new ULTIMAAX heavy duty suspension system, and what differentiates it from the competition?

A: Vocational fleets are demanding systems that need components that stand up to punishing environments, provide a low total cost of ownership, are light in weight to allow greater payloads and fuel economy, and deliver a comfortable ride when the vehicle is loaded or unloaded. The added value of ULTIMAAX is that it delivers a lighter weight, higher roll stability, and a better ride. The ULTIMAAX shear springs and progressive springs were designed as a system within the suspension, which provides a smooth spring rate.