Head-to-Head VolVo FMX 13 540 trideM-v-VolVo

Head-to-Head VolVo FMX 13 540 trideM-v-VolVo
Volvo FMX 13 540 tridem-v-Volvo FMX 13 500 27
26 OPERATIONS Head-to-head
THE MAIN EVENT
Thursday 28 May
- Saturday 30 May
Harrogate International
Centre
Images: Tom Cunningham
www.tip-ex.co.uk
Tridem
tested
How does the Volvo FMX Tridem measure
up against a conventional 8-legger? Owner
operator Mark Luck runs both
COMMERCIAL MOTOR 30/4/15
By Bob Beech
Opinion: Mark Luck, director, Mark Luck
“We are quite an old established company. I am now the
third generation and run the business with my father Ken.
We have seen a lot of changes over the years, but we still
stick to what we know best.
“We buy all of our trucks and keep them for a long
time, often most of their working life. We also maintain
them in-house because we feel it is cheaper in the long
run and gives us greater control. As a result we run a
mixture of brand new and older trucks. Our oldest is a
1999 X-registered Daf CF380 8-wheeler with well over
900,000km on the clock.
“Volvo has figured in the fleet for many years, and we
find the FM a very strong truck. It stands up to heavy
work very well, and they don’t deteriorate with age like
most other makes. They are expensive to buy new, but
cheaper in the long run. We have no trouble selling them
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afterwards, because people know that we look after them.
We still have a number of the older versions in service.
“We have tended to specify bigger engines, as they are
much more on top of the job, last longer and if driven
properly, use less fuel. We receive very good service from
our local dealer MC Truck & Bus. Its parts service is
excellent and our local sales contact Paul Cogger works
hard on our behalf.
“Despite being a traditional company, we have always
been prepared to try new things and were keen to go on a
Volvo customer trip to Sweden to drive some of the latest
FMX models last year. It was the first time we had seen
the Tridem 8x4 fitted with the new high ground clearance
rear air suspension. We were very impressed with the
truck and thought it might be suitable for our fleet. The
test truck also had the optional Dynamic steering system
fitted, which worked really well. It is incredible, so light to
turn at low speed, but really precise and accurate at
higher speeds.
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“After returning home we started to work out a spec
with MC and Volvo’s technical people. The improved
manoeuvrability of the rear-steer Tridem gives real
advantages in congested city streets and reduces tyre wear
considerably. We decided to go for the 540hp engine along
with the I-Shift transmission. We have been using I-Shift
for quite some time now, it is a superb gearbox and very
reliable. We included dynamic steering as part of the spec,
because there seemed little point in not having it on a
high-spec truck like this. Aluminium wheels were added
to try to offset the increased unladen weight of the Tridem
layout.
“Thompsons had to fit front-end tipping instead of our
usual underfloor gear as there is insufficient chassis space
“The improved manoeuvrability of the rear-steer
Tridem gives real advantages in congested city
streets and reduces tyre wear considerably”
30/4/15 COMMERCIAL MOTOR
Volvo FMX 13 540 tridem-v-Volvo FMX 13 500 29
28 OPERATIONS head-to-head
Specifications
“The Tridem has worked very well so far. It
will go into places where a 6-wheeler would
struggle and it is very stable when tipping”
to mount it. Because it is the first high ground clearance
Tridem tipper, it had to go for static tilt tests when it was
finished. Volvo fitted a heavy-duty bracing plate at the
rear of the chassis for our application. It was very
impressive. It was tilted to over 7 degrees fully loaded
and it passed all the tests, but I must admit that I was a bit
concerned when I saw it at that angle.
“The Tridem has worked very well so far. It will go into
places where a 6-wheeler would struggle and it is very
stable when tipping. It drives superbly and does everything
we want and more. The ground clearance is pretty good,
not quite as high as the standard 8x4, but enough for most
jobs. Drivers have to take care with the track rod arm on
the rear axle, as it is a bit vulnerable when reversing.
“The truck weighs 13,700kg, which is about 450kg more
than a standard tipper, and we would like to see this
reduced a bit. I would try another if they reduced the
price. It has many advantages and very few drawbacks,
but it has to have the right driver on it.
“I intend to try a standard 8x4 with this type of rear air
suspension. It’s a real step ahead, kinder on both the truck
and the roads.”
COMMERCIAL MOTOR 30/4/15
CM opinion
The last time we tried out a Volvo Tridem rigid it had the
same layout, but a far different specification. In 2013
Wynnstay’s FM 8x4 was powered by the 11-litre engine,
had the Globetrotter high-roof sleeper cab and the
standard type rear air suspension bogie, which gives
adequate ground clearance for most tasks. We felt this
ruled it out for heavy tipping work.
Shortly afterwards Volvo introduced its
new high ground clearance rear air
suspension and this is our first opportunity
to see it on a working truck. Volvo seems to
have made an excellent job of tucking the
air bags, anti-roll bars and link arms out of
harm’s way.
Furthermore, the exposed brake
chambers on the drive axles have
substantial guards around them, limiting the
chances of damage off road. As Mark Luck
said, the rear axle track rod is a bit exposed and it is
difficult to see what could be done to protect it.
The combination of 540hp engine and I-Shift
transmission means this truck is not going to struggle
when fully loaded. It just picks up speed in any gear, and
the whole process seems effortless.
Fortunately, the combination of VEB+ engine brake
and EBS discs brakes means it is easy enough to rein it
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Manufacturer Volvo Trucks
Model FMX 13 540 RTB 8x4 Tridem rigid with hydraulic rear-steer tag-axle,
high ground clearance rear air suspension and day cab
First registered November 2014
Chassis 3,700mm wheelbase, 8mm chassis members with 5mm inner liner,
rear reinforcement for tipping applications, plated 32,000kg GVW
(design GVW 36,000kg),front axle plated 9,000kg. Volvo tridem RADD
T12/12-bag air-suspended rear bogie plated 24 tonnes (design
27 tonnes),drive-axles plated 8,250kg (design 9,750kg) rear-steer
axle plated/design 7,500kg, raise and lower facility, weight transfer
and full lift rear tag-axle, suspension can be locked for enhanced
stability. 385/65R22.5 tyres on steer axles, 315/80R22.5 tyres on
drive axles. Volvo RTS2370A single-reduction tandem drive-axles
with cross and inter-axle diff locks, 3.90.1 ratios (others available).
Optional VDS Dynamic steering system with additional electronic
pump. 255-litre aluminium fuel tank/68-litre plastic AdBlue tank on
RHS, Durabright aluminium wheels, upright exhaust tailpipe
Engine Volvo D13K/540, Euro-6, 12.8-litre, 6-cylinder in-line, turbocharged
and intercooled, with electronic unit injectors, emissions controlled
by EGR/SCR via dual catalyst exhaust with regenerative trap. Exhaust
and optional VEB+ enhanced engine brake
Maximum power 540hp (397.6kW) at 1,450rpm to 1,800rpm
Maximum torque 2,600Nm (1,918lbft) at 1,000rpm to 1,450rpm
Gearbox Volvo I-Shift AT2612E 12-speed, constant mesh, automated with
manual override, direct-drive top gear
Ratio spread 14.91-1.00.1
Engine revs @ 56mph 1,450rpm
Brakes EBS-controlled, air-operated discs on all axles, ABS and ASR traction
control
Cab FMX day cab with four-point coil-sprung suspension, robust
specification upholstery with optional leather seats
Bodywork Thompson steel tipping body with Edbro front end gear, electric
sheeting system, full rear, side and front view camera system with
proximity sensors
Supplied by MC Truck and Bus, Aylesford, Kent
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Volvo Trucks
FMX13 500 X-High B-ride 8x4 rigid with straight front axles, steel rear
suspension and day cab
October 2014
5,100mm wheelbase, 8mm chassis with 5mm inner liner from
gearbox member to end of frame. Plated 32,000kg GVW (design
37,000kg) front bogie 16,000kg/rear bogie 19,000kg, B-ride twospring balance beam rear suspension, Volvo RTS 2370A singlereduction tandem drive-axles, with cross and inter-axle diff locks,
3.90.1 ratios (others available), 315/80R22.5 tyres all round, 315-litre
aluminium fuel tank LHS/48-litre plastic AdBlue tank on RHS.
Upright catalyst exhaust stack
Volvo D13K500, Euro-6, 12.8-litre, 6-cylinder in-line, turbocharged
and intercooled with electronic unit injectors, emissions controlled by
EGR/SCR via dual catalyst exhaust with regenerative trap. Exhaust and
optional VEB+ enhanced engine brake
500hp (368kW) at 1,400rpm to 1,800rpm
2,500Nm (1,845lbft) at 1,000rpm to 1,400rpm
Volvo I-Shift 2612E, 12-speed constant mesh, automated with manual
override, direct-drive top gear
14.91.1-1.00.1.
1,450 rpm
EBS-controlled, air-operated discs on all axles, ABS and ASR traction
control
FMX day cab with four-point coil-sprung suspension, robust
specification upholstery with optional leather seats
Thompson steel tipping body with Edbro underfloor gear, electric
sheeting system, full rear, side and front view camera system with
proximity sensors
MC Truck and Bus, Aylesford, Kent
30/4/15 COMMERCIAL MOTOR
Volvo FMX 13 540 tridem-v-Volvo FMX 13 500 31
30 OPERATIONS head-to-head
Bob Beech opinion
Alternative axle layouts on rigid chassis are
slowly gaining ground in the UK. Numbers
are still very small, but more operators are
considering these trucks. Some
manufacturers now offer Tridem bogie rigids.
Volvo probably still leads the way in this field
with the 8x4 rear-steer featured here. It also
offers a steering pusher-axle Tridem 8x4,
mainly for waste disposal applications, along
with the 8x2 Tridem with steering pusher- and
tag-axles, that can both be lifted when
running empty. If these layouts, along with
standard 8x4 and 8x2 rear-steer, do not meet
an operator’s needs they had best give up
running trucks.
The rear-steer Tridem is designed to
operate at far higher weights in other markets,
often with a trailer at up to 60 tonnes or more
GVW. Unfortunately this extra margin of
capacity does result in higher unladen weight.
This particular truck is about 500-600kg
heavier than a standard FMX 8x4 once
aluminium wheels and other factors are taken
into account. It would be possible to shave a
bit off this by specifying the 11-litre engine
and other options, but the truck is still a bit
heavy for many users.
The tri-axle rear bogie has a design weight
back in again. It was also another opportunity to try
Volvo’s Dynamic Steering System out on the road. It does
take a short while to get used to it, especially in
conjunction with the Tridem rear-steer chassis layout.
Previous experience has shown that the Tridem has
similar manoeuvrability to a very short wheelbase
6-wheeler, but you have to make allowances for the
additional tail-swing. The rear-steer axle pushes the back
end around quite sharply, particularly at tight junctions or
when pulling away when close to a wall. The new steering
system is extremely light at low speed, and feels almost as
if the linkage has come adrift for a moment or two.
There is increased resistance as speed increases, but it
takes very little effort to even turn at full lock. It quickly
self centres after turning and it is possible to over-steer until
familiar with the characteristics of the system. There is
plenty of feedback at speed, but none of the shocks from
damaged road surfaces, which can be a bit disconcerting.
COMMERCIAL MOTOR 30/4/15
of 27 tonnes and the basic components can
be upgraded to carry an imposed load of up
to 36 tonnes in specialist applications.
Unfortunately the UK construction and use
regulations limit a 3-axle bogie to 24 tonnes
regardless of the number of tyres and axle
layout. The fully air-suspended Tridem design
utilises a total of 12 air bags and 10 tyres to
carry the same load as a tri-axle trailer bogie
that rides on just six tyres and six air bags.
The rearmost axle on the Tridem is positively
steered. By far the majority of trailer bogies
have fixed axles, which create far more scrub
when turning. Surely it is time for the legislators
to look at this particular vehicle type. A small
increase in gross weights to 34 tonnes would
allow these advanced trucks to carry a decent
payload with just a slight increase in imposed
load on the bogie, causing less road wear and
disruption to other road users than other
conventional 4-axle rigids.
Concerns regarding the safety of heavy
trucks in cities is of great importance, as
highlighted by the recent spate of accidents
between trucks and cyclists in central
London. Truck operators now have to fit new
safety equipment and comprehensive
camera systems to operate in certain areas
and the onus is very much on the driver to
avoid the cyclist no matter how irresponsible
they might be for their own safety.
There is obviously fault on both sides, but
when a truck and a cyclist come together
there is only one outcome. Part of the problem
seems to be cyclists either failing to realise or
ignoring trucks turning left at junctions. With a
conventional 8x4, a driver has to swing out
from the kerb at a 90 degree corner, creating
an irresistible gap for some cyclists. The
Tridem doesn’t require this extra space when
turning, so it’s possible to keep closer to the
kerb as the rear-steer axle pushes the tail of
the truck away from the kerb as it turns. Talk of
low-line cabs and windows in doors might in
theory give drivers a better field of vision, but
improving the manoeuvrability of a 4-axle rigid
limits risk far more.
Some might feel tipper driving is at the
lower end of the technology spectrum, but
just consider for a moment that one of the
trucks featured here is one of the most
advanced on the road. The engine, gearbox,
emissions system, braking system, steering
assistance, rear suspension, safety camera
system and so on are all electronically
controlled, not bad for a muckaway tipper!
The regular driver really likes the system now, but admits it
took a couple of days to feel really at home with it.
Overall, the Tridem is a superb bit of kit, smooth,
sophisticated and very capable. The driver is relaxed and
able to pay full attention to what is going on around him
rather than fighting the truck. The standard steel
suspension FMX seems quite a bit rougher in comparison.
The ride is much harder and the truck needs much more
room at junctions and when reversing. It’s still an excellent
machine, but quite different, closer to older designs,
whereas the rear steer 8x4 is a new type of 8-wheeler.
For most users the Tridem will be a step too far. It will
do almost everything as well as the standard truck and
also quite a bit more. If an operator has a requirement for
a tipper with greatly enhanced manoeuvrability and
superb road manners then have a look at a Tridem, but
under current weight limits the cheaper, less sophisticated
8-wheeler is probably the better choice. n
For today’s news, visit commercialmotor.com
For today’s news, visit commercialmotor.com
30/4/15 COMMERCIAL MOTOR
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