Improving transportation through technology

From the August 2020 issue.

For the past 40 years, VDL Weweler in the Netherlands has built a solid reputation for creating customer-specific solutions – setting the industry benchmark for air suspension systems worldwide.

From the common Mega air suspension system to trailer suspension with an integrated stroke limiter instead of with steel cables, from the Bolt-On® axle lift to the world’s first ever Bolt-On® air suspension to a round axle, VDL Weweler has stood on the forefront of these industry-changing developments.

The manufacturer’s latest brainchild, the Modular Bolt-On® Solution (MBS) will break new ground for the fleets that invest in this innovative technology. This groundbreaking and unique system combines all of VDL Weweler’s knowledge providing industry with an air suspension that can be clamped instead of welded. It has an actual load capacity of 10 tonnes and still makes use of the technical advantages of spring steel while only weighing around 100kg.

To create a solution like the MBS, or the dozens of other customer-specific solutions and have these products operate globally in the most varying conditions, requires skilled people, knowledge, the right machinery and the ability to test one’s products.

Traditionally, testing components or complete air suspension systems for, trailers, trucks or buses often required the use of a complete vehicle (combination) and track time. As these are lengthy and expensive tests, this is not ideal. Particularly not for a component supplier like VDL Weweler.

To make things more challenging, VDL Weweler also wanted a test rig that could consistently test individual components more specifically. The reason for this is that different components are made from different material which means that the point of failure also differs – particularly during an accelerated fatigue test. At the same time, VDL Weweler still wanted the input of driving on an actual road. This latter demand meant that existing indoor pulse test rigs, which use hydraulic cylinders to simulate the road were out of the question. As the tyres on these rigs do not rotate, the rotational force that the actual road normally gives to the wheels and axle is not entirely factored in.

The outcome was that VDL Weweler had to create a new standard and so the Rolling Road and dynamometer test facility was established.

For the past five years VDL Weweler has worked at perfecting its Rolling Road and dynamometer test facility. This truly unique indoor test facility, houses one of the biggest roller benches known in Europe and is situated at the Automotive Campus in the south of Holland.

The facility, which was finalised in 2015, has been designed with the objective of offering a greener and more consistent  indoor alternative to outdoor endurance testing and assess the behaviour of heavy vehicles such as trucks, buses, trailers and their suspension parts and other critical components when they are exposed to (severe) vibrations.

Together with the Technological University of Eindhoven and the HAN University of Applied Science, the Rolling Road was benchmarked and calibrated to simulate fatigue and endurance testing without having to do actual outdoor cobble-stone tests or having to destroy complete vehicles or vehicle combinations. Additionally, outdoor testing on the DAF and MIRA test track provided VDL Weweler with the necessary reference-knowledge which created the starting point(s) for the Rolling Road and not having to use fossil fuel resulted in a smaller ecological footprint.

Over the five-year duration VDL Weweler performed many fatigue, endurance, behavioural, vibration and even performance testing. These test provided the company with vast amounts of data, increasing its knowledge and expertise.

The Rolling Road currently provides VDL Weweler with a unique tool that can simulate a vast range of road inputs. Also, the Rolling Road provides VDL Weweler and its customers with the ability to do various tests in a shorter time resulting in improved development time and decreased development costs.
In addition to this, years of testing made VDL Weweler realise that the Rolling Road is also extremely suitable to monitor how cargo behaves in various simulated conditions.

The Rolling Road as a result becomes a lot more interesting for a much larger audience. VDL Weweler is opening its Rolling Road doors to the world and besides the obvious trailer, truck, bus and components manufacturers,  it would also like to invite everybody who’s cargo is being transported across the world’s roads to get in touch for more information.

Fast Fact
In 2015, VDL Weweler together with collaborating partners completed the Rolling Road and dynamometer test facility. This truly unique facility located at the Automotive Campus in the south of The Netherlands now houses one of the biggest test benches in Europe.

(Image: The Rolling Road in action.)

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