Steering in the right direction

From the July 2019 issue.

Steer axle maintenance is generally complicated and can lead to difficult repairs, however, Gigant has developed a new self-steering axle that is more serviceable and easier to maintain.

Markus Gehle, Managing Director of Gigant, explained at last year’s IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany, and the 2019 Bauma trade show in Munich, that his team solved a lot of end-user issues with their latest self-steering axle.

Fleet operators and equipment manufacturer have advised the axle specialist that the problem with steering axles today is that maintenance is complex and repairs are often challenging.

To address the industry’s pain points, Gigant took a closer look at the design and development of its own self steering axle, specifically the self-steering arm, and worked towards a solution. Gehle said the objective was clear: eliminate all lubrication points to ensure absolute ease of service.

“The most interesting point is that the self-steering axle is a low maintenance axle which means that we dispense all greasing points on the axle,” he said. “Furthermore, with our patent we can easily dismantle the steering arm from the axle beam without removing the whole axle from the trailer and without pressing the steering bolt out. That makes repairs much easier and faster, which saves a lot of money, especially in combination with the out bounded drum and our maintenance-free compact bearing. Soon, we will begin a field test to confirm that the design is robust and reliable.”

He added that with the new and patented steering arm system, the steering arm can be very easily separated from the axle body using the spherical joint heads that are positioned and screwed from the top and bottom, all without any special tools. “The arm pins connect the steering arm with the axle body, but also serve as a retaining element for the spherical joint heads, which together with the integrated bearing clamps, make the system low-maintenance and extremely easy to service. Greased and adjusted one time by Gigant, and the customer has no more work with the steering arm bearing.”

To ensure that the self-steering axle is low-maintenance in all areas, Gigant uses self-lubricating bearings and lifetime-lubricated slack adjusters for the camshaft bearings.

Gehle confirms that a low-maintenance SKF compact bearing is also used here as well as the proven system with the drum in front of the hub.

“But not only the low-maintenance components are worth mentioning, but also the more compact design that is achieved with the new steering arm bearing,” he says. “It allows for the installation of the brake cylinder within the contour of the tyres.”

Ultimately, Gigant strives to better the serviceability of its axles, and it does so through direct feedback from customers and fleet operators who expect solid returns on their road transport investments.

“Our focus is addressing industry concerns about the service life of hardware by developing gear that is more serviceable and reliable,” said Gehle. “At Gigant, we are very proud of our new self-steering axle, which epitomises our line of innovative thinking.”

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