The current offering of standard wheels has been designed to meet a broad range of off-highway equipment applications. On occasions, OEMs will demand unique solutions to match specific, and often highly challenging, conditions. In such circumstances, the ability for the OEM, tyre and wheel manufacturers to work closely together can provide greater value to the end user. The benefits of this type of collaboration are clearly demonstrated in a design project undertaken by GKN Wheels in North America with access equipment specialist JLG Industries.
JLG was seeking a way to differentiate its products. This resulted in the development of a solution that provided enhanced telehandler stability, greater tread life and lower operating costs. Rather than considering a wheel and tyre design in isolation, it was recognized that the co-development of the products could maximize overall performance and offer the best value.
GKN Wheels Armstrong was selected to design and develop the new wheel due to their engineering expertise and in-house test capabilities.
GKN worked in liaison with the engineers of Bridgestone Americas’ Off Road Division to develop the wheel in parallel with their new tyre, the Firestone DuraForce MH.
Len Hensel, Technical Director at GKN Wheels, North America, stated: “The project took into account JLG’s requirements, the characteristics of a newly developed tyre, and the operational and service elements. From the outset, the approach focused on a close working relationship between all three companies, rather than each working in isolation. Instead of selecting standard product as the basis for development, the solution was engineered from a clean sheet of paper.”
Historically, wheels for this type of application were a 24” or 25” diameter utilizing 9mm gauge steel. The unique GKN design resulted in a new 28” diameter size to fit the tyre geometry and has a specific shape which enables the wheel to support the loading and durability requirements of the machine, while using a lighter 8mm gauge steel.
In addition, the 28” rim shape offers improved tyre serviceability relative to conventional wheels, despite the stiffer tyre sidewall, resulting in reduced servicing costs.
The wheel and tyre combination provides superior customer value from the enhanced tread wear characteristics that result in a projected tyre life that is up to three times more than the Firestone SGG. The new designs have also allowed JLG to reduce from four tyre options down to two. This means fewer parts to stock and reduced inventory-carrying costs for JLG distribution.
Commenting on the development, Michael Poirier, General Manager of Corporate Accounts for Bridgestone Americas’ Off Road Division said: “We are extremely proud to have collaborated with JLG and GKN to bring one of the most exciting introductions to materials handlers in many years. We utilized the collective strengths of three organizations to deliver a superior product that dramatically improves the total cost of ownership and the overall stability of the machine.”
Note to editors
GKN Wheels is a world leader in the design, manufacture and supply of wheels for off-highway applications, including agricultural, construction, industrial and mining machinery industries. The company has five manufacturing locations, two major test centres and employs some 1,540 people. It has key manufacturing bases in China, Denmark, Italy, the UK and the USA. It is part of the GKN Land Systems Division of GKN PLC and operates within the division’s High Performance Structures business. Land Systems is a global organization with over 5,000 employees worldwide and annual sales of more than £699 million ($1.1 billion). It is one of four divisions within GKN plc, the others being Aerospace, Driveline and Powder Metallurgy.
GKN plc is a global engineering business serving the automotive, aerospace and land systems markets. It has operations in more than 30 countries, around 40,000 employees in subsidiaries and joint ventures and had sales of £5.4 billion in the year ended 31 December 2010. GKN plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: GKN).
For more information about GKN Wheels, please contact:
Sarah Warren/Mike Farrington,
Golley Slater Public Relations
T +44 (0) 121 384 9700
M +44 (0) 7875 280106
Sali Morris, Marketing & Business Development Manager, GKN Wheels