Look-alike air springs may produce only minor and temporary gains but introduce major and ongoing risk of breakdown, accident and downtime
As the Covid pandemic places pressure on the heavy trucking industry to drive itself longer and harder to keep supply chains open, the safety and reliability of heavy vehicle suspension systems are more important than ever.
Our hard-worked heavy vehicle fleet – including nearly 360,000 rigids over 4.5t GVM and more than 105,000 articulated trucks – now have an average age of nearly 15 years. This is twice the average of leading European nations and three times the average of China and California, according to the Trucking Industry Council.
So not only are Australian heavy vehicles working longer, they typically cover greater distances to keep up with constantly changing supply chains to deliver a greater range of urgently needed goods to far-flung urban and rural centres – including food for communities in lockdown, supplies for re-emerging industries, medical and agricultural supplies.
“The transportation industry is facing extreme challenges. Supply chain disruptions and nationwide emergency delivery needs are causing fleet managers, despatchers and drivers to work longer hours as they respond to radical and constant changes in demand patterns,” says Mr Russel Chown, Sales Manager for Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, which is one of the vital suppliers to the trucking industry that has stepped up to ensure quality spare part demand is met nationwide throughout the pandemic.
Air Springs Supply – which has remained open for the entire duration of the pandemic – is the national distributor of Firestone Industrial Products range of Airride™ OEM and replacement air springs, and ContiTech air spring systems for heavy automotive, including bus, prime movers and trailers. The company has invested in its Australian sales and service network with an expanded national headquarters in Sydney stocking one of Australia’s broadest ranges of OEM and top-quality replacement air springs. Its investment and preparedness mean it has been able to maintain its essential supply chains to truck operators throughout the Covid crisis to make sure hard-worked trucks and operators have access to the best and safest air springs available, which are essential to reliability and safety.
“It is just sensible risk management in times like this for fleet operators and owners to invest in companies and products that have done the hard yards for the industry and delivered consistent quality, reliability and safety not just for years, but for decades. This is certainly not the time to take a chance on look-alike products.
“Any small savings on products that don’t offer the same quality, performance and reliability as the genuine original can be wiped out in an instant by a single accident or downtime incident that puts a million-dollar truck off the road,” says Mr Chown.
“Typically, as prices go down with non-OEM parts, the margin for safety and reliability sinks with them. These products are not generally as good as the originals they imitate – quality doesn’t come free – and typically they struggle to offer the lifespan and safety margin of genuine parts.”
“We know it is tough out there for transport operators and we are sharing the difficulties of extreme circumstances and changing demand with them. But cutting corners with lower-quality parts is no way to extend the value and life of vehicles and machinery costing hundreds and thousands and sometimes millions of dollars.”
Both Firestone and Continental quality products are trusted by OEM and replacement air spring customers across the transport and industrial spectrum.
Superior rubber and cord
Firestone’s distinctive fabric cord is not something the naked eye can readily detect but does make a difference in air springs performance. The graphic above shows the strongly engineered inner layer, first ply, second ply and outer cover. Firestone’s proprietary rubber compound utilises the highest-grade materials and the best compounding technology in the industry, says Mr Chown.
“Firestone air springs meet and exceed the world’s most rigorous testing standards. They don’t leave the factory without first passing 190psi (13 bar) proof testing,” says Mr Chown.
Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd reinforces its commitment to national and global standards of quality assurance through ISO 9001: 2008 Quality Management Systems – Requirements certification. The company places a high priority on continuously reinforcing its customers’ confidence in doing business with an organisation that can consistently meet or exceed their needs on time.