Ice challenge

Despite temperatures as low as -40°C, SAF-Holland sent its expert team to the frozen Swedish north to put its mechanical and digital truck and trailer components to the ultimate test.

It is an environment that is not for the faint hearted. Ice and snow as far as the eye can see and frigid temperatures. But SAF-Holland engineers dug deep, knowing the results from these extreme conditions would be crucial.

Located within the Arctic Circle, the Colmis Proving Ground in Arjeplog, Sweden, is the ideal location for vehicle cold condition testing. It has more than 50 multipurpose tracks, covering both frozen lakes and land courses, allowing manufacturers to test every aspect of winter driving.

Image: SAF-Holland.

Even in extreme environments, drivers and fleet operators must be able to rely on their vehicles to be constantly roadworthy and safe, said Vice President of Research and Development at SAF-Holland, Sebastian Quick.

“The influence of challenging weather can have a massive influence on product robustness, functionality and the interaction of coordinated mechanical parts, electronic components and sensor systems,” he said. “Systems developed at the factory ‘under laboratory conditions’ often behave very differently in practical tests due to propulsive forces, roll movements, heavy loads, and other influences. In winter conditions, correct functioning of axles and brakes is particularly crucial for avoiding failures and accidents.”

The testing involved new and updated developments, as well as the SAF TRAKr electric trailer axle, the automatic SAF TIRE PILOT I.Q. tyre-inflating system, the HALDEX EB+ 4.0 electronic trailer braking system and other safety-related components.

The truck involved in the testing mastered the challenging manoeuvres at the icy proving ground, covering more than 3,000 km in a total of 40 hours.

“Our chassis-related modules and systems are used worldwide, in very different conditions,” Quick said. “Safety and accident prevention are our top priority during product development. The findings from the cold test will directly influence the development and continuous improvement of our products.”

The cooperation within the SAF-Holland group of companies and products was tantamount to the testing’s success, he added.  “During projects like these, we benefit from the positive synergy effects in the group of companies. That drives joint research and results in optimally coordinated products.”

Among the developments and systems SAF- Holland tested and which defied the cold weather were:

Image: SAF-Holland


The electric axle converts the kinetic energy of the vehicle into electrical energy. For example, during braking or thrust phases, to generate electricity for auxiliary consuming units such as heating and cooling systems or tail lifts.


The digital tyre pressure assistant monitors the pressure in trailer tyres. If too much pressure is lost, the system automatically tops up the tyre and sends a notification to the driver in the cab.


The electronic trailer braking system has a modular design that can be individually configured. It serves as a platform for different product families: EBS, ABS with roll-over control and as a conventional ABS for trailers.


The lift axle valves provide electrically controlled lifting and lowering of one or several lifting axles for air suspension systems.

HALDEX Safe Parking Trailer Emergency Module (TEM)

The system automatically activates the parking brake to provide more safety during hitching and unhitching of trailers, preventing uncontrolled movements and minimising vehicle damage and accidents.

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