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Curved forms can carry more load

SSAB Tunnpl : 26 November, 2003  (New Product)
Trailord Pty. Ltd. of South Africa has succeeded in what may be merely a dream to others, to develop an established design and thus gain market share in a mature industry. The com-pany is one of this year's four candidates for the Swedish Steel Prize and has been nominated for a new type of chassis member for a trailer.
The member is laser cut from extra-high strength sheet steel and has a gently curved form that enables it to effectively absorb different forces and stresses. The resulting design uses substantially reduced sheet thickness, which has resulted in trailers with better load-carrying capacity and higher strength. To customers, this offers better operating economy and higher profitability.

The spring is hot in the South African city of Bloemfontein, a few hours' drive north-east of Johan-nesburg. In a partially abandoned industrial area, entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness are blos-soming. In only four years, Trailord Pty. Ltd. has grown from just a couple of employees to a head-count of 110 employees. And the future looks bright. Trailer production is thriving, and new high strength steel trailers are regularly being delivered to customers all over South Africa.

The company's rapid growth is founded on a strong domestic market and modern engineering think-ing, so that the latest in design and production engineering is applied, together with consistent use of advanced high strength steels. This way of thinking, combined with long experience in the business, has enabled Rui da Silva, owner of the company, and his personnel to create new opportunities in a mature industry.

Stronger and lighter are the main aims
After almost 30 years of designing trailers, Rui da Silva can now give free rein to his design ideas. And this means his customers profit, since his main aim is to produce stronger and lighter trailers that can carry more load. So advanced high strength steels are an important element in the opera-tions, and the material is included in almost all products leaving the Trailord plant.

Good roadholding and cornering properties
This was the guiding thought when the company developed the chassis members which have now been nominated for the 2003 Swedish Steel Prize. The members are incorporated into interconnect-ing trailers that are common in South Africa. These are trailer rigs in which two trailers are con-nected using a traditional hitch with a kingpin. The two-unit rig has better roadholding and corner-ing properties than traditional trailer rigs.

Entirely new S-shaped profile
The latest chassis frame members are of an entirely new, S-shaped curved profile. The S-shaped members have new, improved properties and the design has enabled the number of joints and sharp corners to be substantially reduced. The special shape of the chassis member is also very effective in taking up the fatigue forces applied to the chassis. The chassis frame is strongest where needed, and there is little unnecessary material. Trailord has therefore been able to use much thinner sheet steel by maximising the properties of extra-high strength steel.

This has resulted in lighter chassis frame members and therefore a much lighter chassis overall.

This weight reduction can be translated directly into improved transport economy for customers, as quite simply, there will be more payload space without the permissible gross vehicle weight being exceeded.

The company's most successful interconnecting trailers can carry an extra three tonnes of load com-pared with their equivalent rivals.

'But we have by no means exhausted all the opportunities,' promises Rui da Silva. 'There are mar-gins left for cutting the weight still further. We could almost claim that we make our chassis mem-bers unnecessarily strong, since although we have raised the load-carrying capacity, the strength of the trailer is much higher than that of a conventional linked trailer.
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