Volvo trucks

Gearing up for tough operating conditions


Volvo Trucks South Africa’s range of extra heavy vehicles are now even more geared to take on the demanding terrain and extreme operating conditions of the African continent.

“Over the years, Volvo Trucks has amassed a lot of experience in developing and supporting trucks that operate in extreme off-road and tough on-road conditions,” said Malcolm Gush, Sales Director at Volvo Trucks South Africa. “Some of the new technologies originated in Sweden’s timber industry where the climate is truly harsh, extreme and varied, while others were also tested in a mine in the peaks of the Peruvian Andes at 5 000 metres above sea level.”       

Volvo Trucks is committed to being an innovative leader. Not for its own sake, but because it matters.  Particularly when it comes to driving safety and developing new ways to improve the productivity and efficiency of fleet owners’ operations.

“But it is not just the ruggedness of our trucks and our innovations that make Volvo Trucks a leading truck manufacturer. Volvo Trucks is at the forefront in providing solutions that give fleet owners enhanced efficiency and productivity – in the most severe conditions and most demanding assignments,” said Gush. 

Tough On-Road Conditions

In March 2016, Volvo Trucks introduced a new member to the I-Shift family: I-Shift with crawler gears. The new gears, which are added to the vehicle’s automated transmission, provide specialised start capability for trucks carrying heavy loads in demanding situations.

The system is entirely unique for series-produced extra heavy trucks.  Volvo Trucks’ new version of I-Shift makes it possible to add up to two new crawler gears, resulting, among other things, the ability to start-off from standstill and transport a gross combination weight (GCW) of up to 325 tonnes.

“The Volvo Trucks line-up is now more versatile, with the range perfectly suited to specialised industries such as construction, mining, quarrying and forestry,” said Gush. “Apart from the expanded capabilities, the new features also provides fleet owners with the peace of mind that their trucks are durable and will be able to handle tough operating conditions with efficiency.”

In 2015, the company also added the new Tandem Axle Lift function on its FH16, FH, FM and FMX ranges.  This new innovation makes it possible to disengage and raise the second driven axle.

“The function is designed for heavy duty transports with loads being carried one way and empty return trips, for instance when hauling timber or in construction and bulk cargo operations,” said Gush  “This functionality offers many advantages including better road grip and up to four percent lower fuel consumption when the truck is driven without a load.”

As not every FH is operated as a long-haul truck on perfect roads, Volvo Trucks has also launched an optional Heavy Duty Bumper for this derivative.  In fact, it is just like the one on the Volvo FMX – robust and designed to take a beating and protect the headlights and the truck itself when the going gets tough.

In addition, Volvo Trucks is now offering rear air suspension for the Volvo FMX with a driven front axle. (4x4, 6x6, 8x6 and 10x6).  This unique solution gives the truck high ground clearance, excellent traction and outstanding driving comfort – especially when unladen.

Air suspension naturally offers many benefits, including a smoother ride, regardless of the road conditions while saving the truck, the cargo and, most importantly, the driver from additional wear.

Volvo Trucks is also now offering Euro 5 five-axle trucks directly from the factory to meet a growing need for higher legal payloads. In fact, combination weights of 50 to 76 tonnes are already allowed on some markets.

“Distributing the load on five axles reduces the risk of overloading the axles.  This solution eliminates the need for an external bodybuilder and costly retrofitting. All in all, it gives fleet owners quicker delivery, direct from Volvo and all the benefits of a full Volvo warranty and aftermarket support,” said Gush. 

Severe Conditions

Severe conditions imply situations or applications that involve off-road or rough-road driving, requiring an engaged front drive axle. In this case, customers require manoeuvrability in tight areas and maximum traction so the trucks don’t get stuck. 

This could also mean the transportation of heavy loads that require special permission to travel on public roads.  Customers in this segment are looking for dependability, startability, maximising hill gradients and loading capacity. 

To address fleet owners’ exacting requirements in this segment, Volvo Trucks has introduced Automatic Traction Control as standard on the Volvo FMX with all-wheel drive or a driven front axle – an industry first.  The front-wheel drive (4×4, 6×6, 8×6 and 10×6) is automatically activated when needed, providing all the necessary traction. This unique innovation is already at work in Volvo Construction Equipment and has proven to be a reliable, highly-effective solution to tackle even the toughest of worksites. 

This new technology is set to give operators reduced fuel consumption, better manoeuvrability and uncompromised traction, as well as ultimately reducing powertrain wear and damage as Automatic Traction Control is engaged only when it is required.

Volvo Trucks Dynamic Steering was first introduced back in 2013, but is now available for the dual front axles on the 8×2, 8×4 and 10×4 derivatives.  This feature is set to drastically reduce the strain on the driver, contributing not only to improved driving comfort, but also to increased safety and productivity.  

“The poorer the roads, the higher the loads, the lower the speed – the greater the benefits with Volvo Dynamic Steering for dual front axles,” said Gush. 

In addition to the crawler gears, Volvo Trucks also launched a reinforced version of the I-Shift, making it available for customers driving in extremely demanding conditions – what  they call ”very hilly” and ”very rough”.  This I-Shift is made for severe duty applications - conditions one will only find in some of the toughest quarries and mines.

“Technically, what we’ve done is to reinforce the gearbox and adjust the software so that it is better equipped to handle the frequent gear changes that are common in these environments,” said Gush.

Volvo Trucks knows the value placed on high load capacity within the construction industry.  This is why the company now increased the maximum front axle loads for leaf-suspended trucks with double front axles from 18 to 20 tonnes.

“In a mine or a quarry, every extra tonne a truck can carry is extremely valuable.  This feature will increase the productivity and fleet owners will have better profit margins,” said Gush.  “Customers driving on regular roads may not be able to increase the maximum payload, but they still benefit in terms of load distribution flexibility without overloading the axles.  These two extra tonnes in the front are good to have for trucks like crane trucks and concrete pumps.”

For customers in heavy haulage, it’s an opportunity to take on heavier assignments, as well as to take on lighter ones without requiring a costly special permit.

Volvo Trucks believes that these new specifications added to their already-proven range, combined with the brand’s increasing footprint in the region, will give their African fleet owners the edge in these very competitive and demanding local industry segments. 

“Innovation, yes it’s a buzzword. But for us it’s the result of our continuous, relentless and uncompromising effort to always find the best solution for our customers,” concluded Gush.




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