The first ever sleeve type Air Spring for commercial vehicles ….
Air suspension is designed to provide an optimum combination of safety, ride quality and comfort, through constantly adjusting the vehicle ride height. When faced with sudden load changes or uneven road surfaces the springs inflate or deflate to level the vehicle, providing improved road holding and protecting the driver and cargo. However, the system takes up a large space envelope. In standard truck configurations there are usually two air springs on the front axle, four on the drive axle and two on the hub or rear axle. The springs are installed next to or under the vehicle cross member using screws and brackets. A similar fixing system is used to connect the spring to the axle. The engineering challenge was to miniaturise the system without compromising on performance. To do this a passenger car solution was selected.
Air Spring design for passenger cars results in a more streamlined and responsive sleeve type Air Spring. Adapting this technology for the more robust requirements of the commercial vehicle market would require considerable analysis, but initial studies suggested it would lead to a significant reduction in system size and weight and also reduce the spring rate, leading to the additional benefits of improved comfort and durability.
Vibracoustic CV Air Springs used their advanced knowledge of passenger car solutions to come up with the answer, the first sleeve type Air Spring for commercial vehicles.
Bionics offers considerable space and weight savings. Although visibly smaller than traditional Air Spring assemblies, the design of the double fold crimped sleeve and thin walls allows for quicker and smoother response times to road and driver input. The spring itself is made from a particularly heat resistant rubber compound making it more durable under pressure changes.
The new compact design means a refined mounting solution. Unlike other spring assemblies it can be directly fitted under the chassis cross member without the need for additional mounting assemblies, eliminating the heavy, expensive bracketry and screws, creating a weight saving of more than 70 kilograms. This can potentially translate to an increase in fuel economy or economic payload. It also means a reduction in the unsprung mass of the vehicle further enhancing overall ride comfort.
The mounting solution also introduces a modular concept meaning that the same spring housing can be used across a range of models regardless of frame height and spring characteristics, reducing logistics and material costs.
The unique mounting system provides additional benefits for both the OEM and aftermarket customers. Unlike other systems Bionics uses an innovative "push-on" system for easy assembly. A “circlip” device makes it easier to fit and replace than conventional springs, which need specific tools and screws. Furthermore the absence of additional screws and brackets means there is less to go wrong, substantially increasing service intervals.
Finally the product offers recycling benefits. Traditional Air Springs are difficult to break down into component parts. Bionics has fewer child parts making it easier to reach environmental targets.