Feature editorial in Global Trailer about the philosophy of MBS
From the June 2019 Global Trailer issue.
The philosophy of MBS
In April 2017, Dick Aalderink, Managing Director of VDL Weweler explained that the European trailer market is changing and that many axle and suspension businesses are focusing on new markets and product categories going forward.
Looking at the European trailer market today Aalderink’s forecast was accurate: All top-selling trailer brands moved to producing axles and suspensions under their own name, hoping to create added value and with it new revenue streams and build additional brand equity in a segment suffering from low margins and increasing competitive pressure.
At the same time VDL Weweler sees, more than ever, other European trailer builders trying to follow suit by investigating the possibility of splitting the traditional axle and suspension and aiming for a standard chassis and suspension package that is able to house all main axle brands.
Besides looking at Europe, more and more air suspension favouring regulations are implemented in emerging markets like India and China. This means that although the local OEMs are only just exploring the concept, they will soon demand an affordable plug-and-play solution that can work around different chassis designs without having to reinvent the wheel every time.
VDL Weweler, which specialises in the design and manufacture of high-tech suspension systems designed around a special, 3D-formed trailing arm, has this ability as it can modify its suspension regardless of the axle or chassis that’s being used.
This is thanks to VDL Weweler’s philosophy of creating Modular Bolt-On Solutions, or MBS for short. This path of creating MBS was taken over a decade ago and has so far proven very successful. It has seen products emerge like special bolted hanger brackets, the Bolt-On® axle lift and of course the non-welded air suspension for round axles.
As the emerging markets gear up more towards air suspension, VDL Weweler does anticipate that the traditional European 9t. will not be sufficient, creating a need for a new breed of MBS air suspension. One that will have all the characteristics of the current versions plus the ability to adapt to local circumstances requiring twin tires and heavier duty applications.
At the last IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany, VDL Weweler already presented a study model of this future MBS.
The goal behind the new generation MBS is as simple as it is ingenious. It will become a non-welded trailing arm air suspension system that is standardised, but still leaves room to customise by choosing for example a conventional or air damping solution, or by adding a bolt-on axle lift.”
At the same time the system should be around 100kg.
Unique will be the clamped connection to an axle. Having no welding, there is obviously less risk of stress cracking in the clamping, but according to VDL Weweler, clamping a round axle also always requires some sort of recess in the axle with a corresponding protrusion in the clamping element which engages in the recess in a positively locking manner. The recess in the axle currently needs to be made during the production phase of the axle. Something that is not always desirable. Particularly not for trailer builders buying loose axles.
VDL Weweler will therefore offer a solution that allows the OEM to create this recess in-house, by means of a simple operation, allowing for the OEM to use standard, of the shelf axles. The recess sits in the axle for life and is re-usable. Even after suspension parts are replaced.
Confident it will set a new industry standard in Europe as in the rest of the world, VDL Weweler is planning to set up a dedicated production line for this new MBS variant. The new line will be housed at the company’s current world-unique manufacturing plant in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands.
Creating sustainable axle and chassis independent modular spring steel air suspension solutions, that are easy to assemble, lightweight, maintenance-free, non-welded, cost-effective and use a minimal amount of end-coated parts with maximum functionality, offering customers more flexibility regarding their chassis optimisation and/ or axle integration resulting in an overall production time improvement.