Valx: a global concept

Established in 2007, Valx has presented an integrated axle module to combine innovative components and tried technology. Designed, assembled and tested in Europe, Valx axles are based on Fuwa equipment and premium components provided by Wabco, TMD, Timken, SKF and Weweler. Built to deliver “long-term durability, reliability, and safety”, the new range of axles is set to be a large-scale project.

“Quality is the key in every aspect of the Valx axle concept,” says managing director Mark Engelen. “The axle is based on a seamless, cold-drawn, and non-welded beam structure to eliminate the risk of weakening or material degradation. As a result, the Fuwa axle beam has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than competing products, and forms the basis for long-term durability under harsh operating conditions. In addition, stiff, thickened spindle walls to minimise fretting for ease of hub removal, induction-hardened and ground journals and rolled threads ensure maximum durability,” Mark explains.

“It is built in one of the world’s newest and most advanced factories; using state-of-the-art machine tools and the most critical quality control procedures applied to every single unit. The result is an unequalled combination of strength, lightness, ruggedness and reliability.”

The basic axle unit is assembled with components selected from Europe’s leading manufacturers in their respective categories; including Wabco air disc brakes, high-performance friction material made by TMD Textar, bearings and seals provided by Timken and SKF, and MBS air suspension developed by Dutch company Weweler.

“The Weweler air suspension meets the Valx philosophy of lightweight, low component count and minimal maintenance,” says Mark Engelen. Based on the use of a parabolic trailing arm design, the Weweler suspension allows only two different suspension units to be used for all for all trailer heights and wheel offsets, reducing the component count. “A wide range of ride heights and offsets can be accommodated by only one type of shock absorber, air spring, hanger bracket and two different tail ends. This solution will use less components, thereby simplifying production logistics.” Instead of using welded axle seats, the suspension is clammed around the axle and held in place by a groove in the beam without using U-bolts. “Our focus in designing the Valx axle was creating a robust concept that would consistently enable the highest quality manufacturing. In effect we have slightly over-designed some of the most important aspects of the axle, putting the emphasis on safety and reliability,” says Mark.

The hub design focuses on safety and reliability, with highly accurate CNC machining and reduced tolerances ensuring accurate bearing pre?setting and an even pressure distribution across the bearing cups. The wide 132mm bearing spread minimises bearing loads and maximises bearing life, while reducing sensitivity to brake heat transfer.

The bearing solution is based on two single-row preset tapered roller bearings, combining cost-effective maintenance with maximum performance and reliability with minimum total cost of operation. Optimised pre-setting maximises bearing life and brake performance.

“For the Valx axle hub SKF supplies the specially developed Scotseal PlusXL, made of high-temperature resistant, long-life rubber to exclude dirt and moisture from the wheel bearings. Together with the bearings themselves, the seals are retained in place by a circlip when the hub is removed, simplifying service and maintaining the integrity and cleanliness of the hub assembly,” explains Mark.

Both disc and drum systems are based on tried and trusted designs. The ventilated brake discs are manufactured by Belgian specialist Wabco; with a specialised metallurgical composition to optimise thermal performance. “The drum brakes have been developed with the support of prof. Andrew Day of the University of Bradford, UK. The design offers high efficiency, thermal and mechanical stability, and low peak stresses, together with consistent and predictable brake performance,” Mark says.

The close cooperation with Chinese company Fuwa will not only allow cost effective production, but also grant access to the Asian market. “In today’s economic situation, you can’t ignore realities like the benefits of outsourcing to cost-effective locations. Or the fact that the manufacturing industry in China has proved its capability to deliver products that consistently meet the highest quality demands,” adds Mark. “Through our partnership with Fuwa we benefit from the economies of manufacturing in China while ourselves retaining full responsibility for testing and quality.”

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