When designing and building a heavy-duty work truck, efficiency, productivity, and reliability are key factors for success. Upfitters, body builders, and vocational vehicle manufacturers understand this premise well. They recognize that even incremental gains can make a big difference when it comes to competitiveness and profitability.
Many of these organizations have turned to Link Manufacturing and its innovative auxiliary axles as a means of gaining a competitive edge. By integrating Link’s self-steering auxiliary axles into their vehicles, these companies have elevated their capabilities, resulting in numerous benefits. In this article, we explore how Link’s auxiliary axle systems have helped move upfitters, body builders, and vocational vehicle manufacturers forward, enabling them to enhance their production efficiency, comply with bridge laws, and deliver superior satisfaction to their fleet customers and end users.
TAKE IT AND LIKE IT
In the case of self-steering auxiliary axles, upfitters, body builders, and vocational vehicle manufacturers are commonly faced with a dilemma when working with major industry suppliers. While these organizations produce superb products of all kinds, due to their size and institutional structures, it is extremely difficult for them to accommodate even the most rudimentary request for a product variation.
The inability to request or obtain even modestly tailored auxiliary axles not only stifles innovation, but it also discourages creative thinking and reduces overall competition. By maintaining the status quo, these major suppliers force what could otherwise be a competitive variable into a static state.
“It’s hard for large institutional suppliers to be nimble,” says Tom Perez, national sales manager for aftermarket auxiliary for Link. “There are so many organizational layers to get through, that it’s almost impossible for them to respond to any request for customization, even if someone in the chain of command wanted to.”
BRIDGING A GAP
One of the challenges faced by upfitters, body builders, and vocational vehicle manufacturers alike is complying with various bridge laws governing vehicle weight and axle requirements. With 50 states and Canada, there are a lot of bridge laws to keep track of.
Link’s self-steer auxiliary axles are highly customizable, allowing its customers to meet very diverse requirements. By choosing Link suspensions, upfitters, body builders, and vocational vehicle manufacturers can ensure compliance and maximize each vehicle’s load-carrying capacity, all while using stock chassis. This flexibility enables Link customers to offer tailored solutions and to provide superior value to their end users.
“With our knowledge and support, our customers can upfit their auxiliary suspensions state-by-state and territory-by-territory, because certain places have diverse laws, differing even within a town or city,” says Perez. “Leveraging Link’s expertise and flexibility, Link can help figure out where an end user will be operating and what the local laws are, and then it can provide a Link axle solution to maximize the return on investment.”
Link has been an instrumental partner to many upfitters, body builders, and vocational vehicle manufacturers, helping them with engineering questions and making sure that its axles are correctly spec’d, easy to install and maximize a vehicle’s capacity.
Many customers work closely with Link and Link has been able to modify its suspension’s patented Swift Mount mounting bracket designs to match OEM chassis that its self-steering auxiliary axles will be mounted on. Some larger, high-volume customers even order their chassis with frames drilled to match Link’s mounting brackets.
By customizing the Swift Mount brackets and modifying the chassis, Link customers can maximize the load capacity of their vocational vehicles, while ensuring compliance with local regulations. Through their partnerships with Link, customers can simplify their supply chain and maintain stock chassis options that can easily be upfit with Link’s axles.
“We provide Link Swift Mount brackets that will do Freightliner, Mack, and Peterbilt and now we’re working on other manufacturers as well,” says Perez. “So, our customers can stock one axle and then stock three or four brackets and it doesn’t matter what chassis comes in—they can make that axle fit.”
Link Manufacturing offers a comprehensive range of self-steering auxiliary suspensions, including its 8K, 10K, 13.5K, and 20K models. These axles incorporate Link’s revolutionary and patented Swift Mount technology, which significantly reduces installation time compared to competing systems. With Link’s Swift Mount design, installers can easily and accurately align the suspension on the vehicle’s frame rails, leading to faster and more efficient installations.
Off the shelf, Links mounting brackets are compatible with wide flange frame rails and can be adjusted to accommodate different axle orientations. Moreover, the integration of industry-standard wheel end and brake components streamlines maintenance processes and reduce inventory overhead, enhancing uptime for anyone installing them.
“The unique Swift Mount design includes stepped-edge frame brackets, offering visual indicators for easy suspension alignment,” says Pete Hiemstra, inside sales specialist for Link. “By centering the suspension quickly and accurately, installation time is drastically reduced, and this translates into a more streamlined operation, improved throughput and faster delivery manufacturers and upfitters.”
Link’s self-steer auxiliary axles come fully wired and plumbed, ready for immediate chassis installation. Link’s integrated air system not only saves valuable installation time, but also enhances overall operational efficiency. By reducing the need for additional wiring and plumbing work, Link’s customers can focus on promptly delivering top-quality products to their end users.
“Link gives its customers a huge advantage because it allows them to buy stock chassis not knowing what state they’re going to be sold into, and then to quickly upfit them with the appropriate Link axles and finally, deliver them,” said Hiemstra. “This gives our customers total speed and flexibility and helps them avoid the guesswork of trying to spec’ the right axle at the factory and then waiting.”
All Link self-steering auxiliary suspensions are equipped with rugged cast lift arms and Link-KOAT self-healing metal treatment. With its unique characteristics, Link-KOAT provides unparalleled corrosion resistance and rust protection, even when surfaces are exposed to excessive abrasion, harsh chemicals and other severe-duty environmental factors.
The impact of Link’s flexible and tailored approach to self-steer auxiliary axles is tangible to its customers. By leveraging the Swift Mount technology and customized solutions, Link customers can significantly reduce axle installation time from eight to 10 hours down to under four hours. This time savings directly translates into enhanced operational efficiency, improved customer service, and increased profitability.
The partnership between Link and its customers extends beyond cooperation and product innovation. Regular communication and collaboration with its customers have resulted in new and unique auxiliary axle solutions that make Link’s customers more competitive.
“As far as continuous improvement and requested adjustments, Link is always receptive and responsive to its customers,” insists Hiemstra.“ All I can say is we are engaged and totally committed to customer service.
Perez agrees. “Our engineers love this stuff and I think it’s safe to say that we can quickly respond and then produce Swift Mount brackets for virtually any vehicle chassis a customer brings us.”
Link has also recently produced a whitepaper entitled, “Lift Axle Need To Know”, Mastering the Process of Ordering and Installing Lift Axles with Confidence. The comprehensive guide simplifies the complexities of specification, ordering, and installation, offering insights into state and federal regulations, installation best practices, and troubleshooting tips.
“In an industry where control, timing, and flexibility are key, Link has formed many partnerships that exemplify innovation, reliability, and customer-centric solutions,” says Perez. “Link Manufacturing’s advanced suspension systems are setting new benchmarks for performance, safety, and driver comfort in commercial vehicles, and its customers and the industry at large are all benefitting.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Find out more about Link Mfg at www.linkmfg.com.