Truck transporters utilising heavy-duty trailers have very specific criteria when it comes to procuring axles for their rigs. Purchase price is an obvious consideration but leading fleets, by and large, consider total cost-of-ownership (TCO) over and above the initail axle price tag, calculating the entire lifecycle cost of the axle unit to determine return on investment (ROI).
As a safety-critical component of a truck-trailer combination, trailer axles need to be of a suitable quality to not only safely deliver cargo but also to prevent on-road accidents and injury to third parties. Furthermore, trailer axles need to be designed and built to carry optimum payload tonnages (i.e. with a low tare mass) without compromising axle build-strength. With low maintenance costs always a priority for trailer owners, axles also need to be designed in a manner that facilitates swift and cost effective repair.
Trailer axles that meet all these criteria are rare in South Africa, and those with solid aftersales support, including ample parts availability and professional technical support, are even rarer.
Mitigating costs, driving quality
“The South African trailer axle market is relatively polarised,” says Omar Essop, founding member of TSE Big Max, a leading local truck trailer axle manufacturer and trailer parts supplier. “There are a couple of high-end premium truck axle suppliers and several entry-level truck axle suppliers but no suppliers in between, to meet the need for high-quality axles at an affordable price. TSE Big Max has been aware of this gap in the market for some time and has now filled it by acquiring the sub-Saharan distribution agency for Valx axles, a range of imported truck trailer axles that ticks all the right boxes for transporters and trailer builders seeking a high-quality, low TCO axle brand.”
TSE Big Max, established in 1985, has its own trailer axle brand and manufacturing facility in Johannesburg (launched in 1993) and a nation-wide support infratructure with distributors in several countries north of our borders.
“Our experience in truck trailer axle manufacture, coupled with our extensive support network, make TSE Big Max the ideal partner for fleet operators and trailer manufacturers hungry for innovative and cost-friendly axle alternatives,” adds Essop.
Valx axles are internationally recognised for ground-breaking design concepts that facilitate greater levels of trailer customisation, payload productivity and resource efficiency.
Innovation builds alternatives
TSE Big Max sales director and Valx product specialist, Jo du Toit states: “Valx is a member company of The FUWA Group, the largest axle manufacturer in the world and pioneer of the ‘one-piece axle beam with heat-formed spindles’, a ‘no weld, no U-bolt’ axle beam design and manufacturing methodology with exemplary anti-deforming, anti-fatigue and anti-bending advantages. Valx axles are designed by top engineers to stringent EU quality specifications with all componentry sourced from leading suppliers such as Wabco (braking systems), Weweler (air suspension systems), Timken (wheel bearings), SKF (wheel bearings and seals) and Textar (brake friction material).The Valx axle range includes disc and drum brake derivatives, based on modular design principles to allow for maximum trailer design customisation.
“A host of innovative design concepts deliver unprecedented versatility, performance and ease-of-maintenance to trailer owners, including the non-welded, seamless axle beam with a unique ‘Valx groove’ that allows the builder to tailor-fit the spring centre of the air suspension using a unique clamping system. Valx hubs offer a choice of offsets for various wheel sizes and a two-shock absorber/two-airbag design standard that reduces weight while minimising maintenance time and costs.
Creating new energy
“Testimony to the innovation at Valx’s design centre is the Valx E2! Energy Axle that incorporates an integrated brushless high-efficiency generator that converts kinetic energy from the trailer wheels into DC current to power auxillary components like tail lifts, reducing draw on the truck battery while making an effective contribution to fuel saving,” says du Toit.
The Valx philosophy of ‘light weight, low component count and minimal maintenance’ underpins a quality ethos that brings solid engineering prowess to trailer axle products that truly meet the needs of transport operators.
“In a business environment that sees operating costs constantly soaring while transport rates remain static, TSE Big Max is committed to giving its Valx axle customers full sales and aftersales support, including comprehensive parts availability and technical back-up and training. Most importantly, we are fully geared to offer the truck transport industry in the region a proven, cost-effective, high-quality alternative to existing axle systems currently available in South Africa,” concludes Essop.
Performance testing in extreme conditions
The Valx one-piece axle beam – versatile, strong, available in disc and drum brake formats
Valx Disk brake, with Wabco technology
Mechanical stability and low peak stresses – The Valx Drum brake axles