Advances in safety-enhancing supplementary suspension systems are helping owners of hard working fleet and contractor vehicles throughout Australasia and the Asia-Pacific to overcome the challenges posed by their widely varying workloads.
Air suspensions and air helper suspensions - and, most recently, fit-and-forget microcellular polyurethane Load-Up Helper Kits - have greatly expanded owners choices when augmenting ute, van, 4wd and work vehicle suspensions called on to cope with heavy and uneven loads, widely varying sites and roads, and towing trailers and caravans.
"It's a fact that trades, fleet, delivery farm vehicles, for example, are being called on to carry ever more varied loads at exactly the same time as employers are insisting on ever more rigorous safety standards," says Asia-Pacific suspension authority and Managing Director of Airbag Man Richard Clamp.
"Many new vehicles are also dual purpose, serving as a workhorse during the week and towing boats, caravans and trailers at the weekend when they revert to being a family vehicle. That can give their original suspension a real workout," says Clamp.
In addition to bolstering a vehicle's ability to cope with heavy, varying and unevenly distributed loads (including tanks, tools, generators, compressors and trailers) easily adjustable air and air helper suspensions help prevent sagging, twisting, and premature wear of the suspension and chassis of 2wd and 4wd utilities, light and medium trucks, pickup vehicles, SUVs and vans.
Safety advantages abound, with air-leveled vehicles achieving steering and braking benefits through evenly poised vehicles that corner flat and true, don't dive dangerously under braking, don't sag and drag in the tail under towing (and don't shine their lights up into the face of oncoming traffic because of suspension loads!).
"Such has been the demand for air and air helper suspensions that we now produce professionally engineered kits for hundreds of vehicles, ranging upwards from simple self-installed kits that are installed by owners and pumped up like a tyre to respond to varying loads," says Richard Clamp.
"Some owners – particularly fleet owners – like to have us fit in-cab controls so drivers can quickly and safely adjust for load and road conditions without having to get out of their seat. Other owners prefer us to fit full pure air systems for the ultimate benefits in ride, safety and performance."
But even though fleet managers and private owners alike have grown to understand and widely adopt air and air helper suspension, there has until now been a market segment that current after-market suspensions have not addressed.
That market is for a totally no-maintenance "fit and forget" supplementary suspension to suit fleet or individual owners with widely varying load and safety issues - but who do not need or want the flexibility of fully adjustable air suspensions that can be adjusted day to day, or month to month, and flexibly varied to optimally suit changing operating conditions.
For such operators, an expanding range of Load-Up helper spring kits has been introduced into the market needing no inflation or ongoing pressure checks by drivers.
Rather than the tough inflatable Firestone airbags employed in other Airbag Man products, Load-Up kits use a non-inflated microcellular polyurethane material specifically developed for automotive use with outstanding durability, sustainability and shock-minimisation capabilities.
The new easily installed range of Load-Up Helper Kits - each tailored for no-drilling installation on all major ranges of 2wd and 4wd leaf sprung vehicles – is ideal for many load management and safety applications in fleet, workplace and private use vehicles because they are custom-engineered to provide a 'no-fuss - simply fit and forget' option.
Richard Clamp states: "Such operators may be functioning in extremely remote situations, or with limited staff, workshop or driver time available to cope with anything beyond their immediate tasks in hand. Often, different drivers may be used in different vehicles who may be unfamiliar with its particular suspension needs."
"Sometimes operators simply wish to avoid any ongoing maintenance requirements while gaining proven cost-efficiencies through supplementing and protecting their vehicles' suspensions."
In addition to reducing suspension fatigue and maintenance costs by assisting the factory suspension, Load-Up kits have major driver benefits in reducing the chance of bottoming out and enhancing braking performance through better vehicle stability under load.
Kits are adjustable for varied spring geometry and stiffness combinations and for individual loading requirements using spacers provided. The kits reduce spring deflection over a wide range of loads. They help prevent sway and enhance braking safety and stability over conditions ranging from highway to Outback and throughout the diverse road and worksite conditions found in Australasia, Asia and the Middle East.
A representative of Airbag Man explained: "Load-Up kits complement the extensive ranges of adjustable air suspensions advocated by Airbag Man as an ultimate solution to safety and load handling issues. However Load-Up provides a 'no-fuss - simply fit and forget' option that has its own strong merits."
The Load-Up product is as thoroughly and professionally engineered as the entire range from Airbag Man, which produces literally hundreds of professionally engineered and easily fitted air suspension kits that are distributed throughout Australia and the Asia-Pacific.
Load-Up kits complement the extensive ranges of adjustable air suspensions advocated by Airbag Man as an ultimate solution to safety and load handling issues. Air suspensions offer the best of both worlds for vehicles carrying varying loads, because they can retain correct ride height across all uses.
Built up over nearly 20 years, the range covers all popular makes and models of 2wd and 4wd Toyota, Nissan, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Holden, Ford and other Australian, European and Asian types typically used by fleets and industries such as construction, engineering, mining, oil and gas, agriculture, manufacturing, processing and infrastructure service and management.