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Wide tires for big rigs

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. : 12 October, 2003  (New Product)
It looks like SuSi is going to hit the market soon. In fact, tire and wheel producers don't want to show their cards just yet. After all, it's a hot topic. It won't be long before freight forwarders and vehicle manufacturers will be able to equip their big trucks with the nearly half-meter wide 'super single' wheels.
Compared to dual tires which have been in use until now, super single tires offer the main advantage that they weigh approximately 50 kilos less. While remaining within the maximum allowable weight limits, this increases the freight carrying capacity of the vehicle by approximately a hundred kilos per axle.

'It's odd that no manufacturer thought of this idea earlier,' wonders Andreas Herbert who developed the test program at the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability LBF in Darmstadt. 'When experimenting with extreme loads, we repeatedly experience on the test stand exactly what should be avoided on the road - an ear-splitting boom followed by a busted tire.' Of course, in durability testing, researchers always push the limits of performance under conditions that are not normally met with in a real-life operating environment.

But even typical, everyday loads are simulated on the test stand. In a rotating drum, which reminds one of an oversized hamster wheel, a powerful metal arm presses the wheels and tires onto the circular track. With a computer, various settings can be configured that conform to real street and load conditions. A stretch of pot holes is but one of around 100 scenarios. 'The most decisive loads for the wheels acts in lateral direction as in curves and in vertical direction according to weight load,' explains Herbert. 'The wheels and tires are driven with a time-lapse factor approximately 30 times greater than in actual street usage.'

The consequences of these tortures must naturally be examined as well. Before one of the wheel assemblies totally fails - in this case rips, tears apart or bursts - cracks have already formed. Even more important however are measurements that show the researchers to what extent stress is evident in the various areas of the wheel assemblies. They are supplemented by computer simulations. The basis of these fatigue tests are standardized test programs derived by the researchers from the results of numerous measurements on test vehicles. The end result, developed in cooperation with truck and wheel manufacturers, are industry standards which will also apply to the new special wheel SuSi.
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