Trailer Magazine

Making light work of wheels

  • From the February 2018 issue.
Making light work of wheels

Profit margins in the transport industry continue to narrow, so Arconic Wheel Products is helping Australian fleets maximise payloads by offering the lightest wheels in the market.

To maximise productivity in a highly competitive road transport industry, many an Australian fleet is continually searching for ways to increase their payloads while remaining within mass regulations. As such, shedding weight without changing the construction of the vehicle by swapping heavy steel wheels with lightweight aluminium wheels is a popular strategy.

Aluminium specialist, Arconic Wheel Products Australia, distributor of Alcoa Wheels, is helping its customers achieve productivity improvements with its range of lightweight aluminium wheel products, including the latest addition, the Ultra ONE wheel. Based on the company’s MagnaForce alloy developed at the Arconic Technical Centre – the world’s largest light metals research centre – the Ultra ONE wheel is almost two kilograms lighter than the previous design.

“The Ultra ONE wheel is made from a proprietary 6361T alloy, which we’ve called MagnaForce. It is 17 per cent stronger than the previous industry standard, 6061T,” says Shannon Girard, Marketing Manager at Arconic Wheel Products Australia. “The additional strength allowed us to strip almost 10 per cent from our popular wheel size, the 22.5 x 8.25 10-285 wheel, but retain a 3,355kg load rating.”

While focusing on strength was especially important for a product designed to withstand Australia’s tough conditions, weight reduction was also on the agenda in the product’s design.

“The biggest benefit is that while the strength of the alloy has increased significantly, we’ve been able to take a lot of weight out of the wheel. By using the new MagnaForce alloy, we’ve been able to reduce weight from the ground up,” Shannon adds. “Payload and efficiency will be the main two benefits to a fleet that choose Ultra ONE. When you take weight out of the equipment, there’ll also be some fuel efficiency gains – which is essential to any fleet hoping to reduce costs.”

The weight savings over steel wheels on a typical 22-wheel truck and trailer combination can equate to 470kg. “If a fleet is able to load to full capacity, then that weight saving can be replaced with freight,” Shannon says. “That means you can reduce the number of trips you’re making to haul freight, which from a payload perspective goes right to your bottom line. If you’re not loaded to capacity, you get the benefits of fuel efficiency from the weight loss.”

At 18.6kg, Shannon says the Ultra ONE wheel is the lightest aluminium wheel ever, building on the company’s reputation for leading the way in the commercial vehicle wheels space.

According to Arconic General Manager Sales and Technical, Ross Simmons, the secret to the Ultra ONE’s success is the company’s unique manufacturing methods. “There are various materials themselves as well as diverse manufacturing methods, and Arconic is one of the only companies that uses a hot forging process,” he says. “The forging method changes the structure of the wheel. Our hot forged method provides an even grain flow in the aluminium that gives it a strength that other methods can’t match, because melting aluminium compromises the integrity of the metal.”

The Ultra ONE wheels have been trialled by a number of local fleets in Australia, where the rough road conditions put the wheels to the test in some of the world’s harshest conditions. “The wheels have proven themselves up to the task, thanks to the quality of the aluminium and Arconic’s exceptional manufacturing processes,” Shannon explains.
“We’ve had some really positive feedback about the Ultra ONE wheel, which has proven to be a winner in the Australian transport industry.

“We pride ourselves on being able to give back to our customers, and being innovators and continuously improving is an important part helping customers drive their bottom line.”

Fast Fact
According to Alcoa Wheels, it forged its first aluminium wheel in 1948, and has been refining its designs ever since. Its lighter-weight aluminium wheels allow for increased payloads and complement fuel-efficient semi-trailer builds.

Fast Fact
Last year, transport and logistics company, Toll Group, used its commercial transport network to support Australia’s largest food relief organisation, Foodbank, with its charity work helping deliver approximately 60 million meals each year. Alcoa Wheel Products was among the industry contributors who came together to aid the cause.

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