An aluminium manufacturing process, proven in arduous military applications, is set to offer major benefits in agriculture and other off-highway markets.
GKN Structures - a specialist in the design, manufacture and supply of pressed steel, structural assemblies, modules and chassis – has used the ‘Squeezeform’ process extensively in meeting the requirements of the defence sector. This is a market which has many similarities with the challenges faced when developing robust vehicles for agricultural use.
The defence sector calls for a markedly more customised approach than the mainstream automotive industry. In-theatre requirements are rapidly becoming more demanding. The challenging terrains encountered need markedly more sophisticated independent suspension and advanced driveline solutions than traditional vehicles.
In addition, the focus is shifting to adopting light-weight solutions without sacrificing function, mobility or safety. Budgetary considerations are inevitably having a major impact on fleet availability and there is likely to be a considerable rise in upgrades and refits of existing assets rather than investing in completely new vehicles.
The Squeezeform process allows for the production of lightweight, high strength aluminium components and accommodates cast-in inserts using other materials, giving locally improved wear resistance. The process also assists when designing components for reduced envelope sizes. Product resilience is proven on tracked military vehicles, showing durability with loads up to 40 tonnes. Squeezeform is being used to produce wheels for the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle. In addition, the process is being utilised for a number of new tracked vehicles.
The main benefit of the wheels produced using this technique is that they are 35% lighter than their standard counterparts. The weight reduction represents a 300kg saving across the whole of a vehicle bringing critical improvements in operational performance and running costs.
As well as being lighter, the wheels offer increased endurance – four times that of a typical traditional forged steel AFV wheel. This makes the total life cost very competitive.
This method of production has been perfected by the company over the past 15 years, now offering customers not just in defence, but also agriculture and other markets, an experienced and knowledgeable service.
GKN Structures not only provides products, the company has the capability to offer comprehensive support from concept through to the finished component. As part of its Aftermarket and Service offering, GKN has an extensive network of distributors and service centres providing technology applications. Aftersales service and parts are available for the agriculture, construction, automotive, industrial, military, marine and alternative energy markets.
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For more information about GKN Structures, please contact:
Sali Morris, Marketing & Business Development Manager, GKN Wheels
T +44 (0) 1952 428466
M +44 (0) 7894 177439
Sarah Warren/Mike Farrington,
Golley Slater Public Relations
T +44 (0) 121 384 9700
M +44 (0) 7875 280106