Spec’ing lighter-weight forged aluminum wheels is a simple solution to increasing the overall fuel efficiency, maintenance economy, and freight-carrying capacity of a commercial vehicle. Medium-duty applications demand all the same benefits as heavy-duty vehicles and fleet owners should focus their time on running their business, not maintaining their vehicles. Therefore, as vehicles get heavier with an endless list of upfitting options, fleet managers and small business owners are seeking more and better ways to reduce weight and lower mid-term operating costs.
Forged aluminum wheels are lighter, stronger, and more durable than steel. They can increase freight capacity and save money on maintenance. They can improve productivity and, ultimately, lower lifetime operating costs. What’s not to love?
MAINTENANCE AND BEAUTY CO-EXIST
Maintenance is a priority among fleet owners and equipment managers in the medium-duty segment. Forged aluminum wheels offer reliable strength, significantly lowering maintenance efforts and extending equipment life.
Aluminum wheels do not require the continual refurbishing of steel wheels: removing rust, re-painting, or other labor-intensive actions. In addition, aluminum wheels are not painted like steel wheels, eliminating the need for touch ups. In harsh environments, equipment managers are required to dismount tires, paint or touch-up, and remount tires every year in order to avoid unattractive and corrosive rust. These additional maintenance steps result in higher overall lifetime costs. Aluminum wheels can also improve the appearance of the truck or fleet—they stay shiny.
By their very nature, wheels spend their lives in hostile environments. Road salt, debris, and chemicals all take their toll on truck equipment. Alcoa and other wheel manufacturers offer wheel options for lowering operating and maintenance costs. Proprietary surface treatments from wheel suppliers can be integral to the production process of the forged aluminum wheel so that it’s durable from the start and built to last when properly maintained.
A comprehensive production process ensures that wheels will not crack, chip, or corrode. And, specially treated aluminum wheels shine up quickly with a simple scrub to keep the vehicle looking newer, longer.
EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY
Work truck equipment managers should consider overall lifetime operating costs when spec’ing wheels on new equipment, since forged aluminum wheels can improve quick and continuous “payback” in fuel savings or freight productivity combined with maintenance savings over the life of the truck.
In addition, forged aluminum wheels’ strength, durability, and low weight deliver environmental advantages to complement their financial benefits. With larger payloads due to the weight savings, trips are reduced and, since forged aluminum wheels are infinitely recyclable, they’ll never see a landfill.
For many suppliers, including wheel manufacturers, the medium-duty and work truck market is increasing in priority. Alcoa is showcasing its commitment to this market by expanding its collection of aluminum wheels for medium-duty commercial vehicles. In spring 2016, the Company added products designed for the Sprinter and GM 3500/4500.
Alcoa also introduced its first lightweight solution for the Ford Transit earlier this year. The Transit 16-x 6.5-inch single wheel weighs just 18 lbs, while the 16-x 6-inch dual Alcoa forged aluminum wheel weighs just 21 lbs. Each wheel is the lightest in its class.
Interest and demand are also growing for GM’s 3500/4500 chassis. Today, Alcoa offers a wheel designed specifically for this application. The new 16-x 6-inch wheel for GM 3500/4500 dual configuration chassis weighs just 19 lbs and provides all of the same benefits of each forged aluminum wheel from Alcoa.
As the inventor of forged aluminum wheels, Alcoa has a long history of providing medium-duty wheels to the marketplace. Each such wheel in the M-Series® collection delivers the same benefits that its wheels provide to heavy-duty (Class 7 and 8) customers, but are obviously customized to fit medium-duty applications.
When considering wheel choices, overall value and lifetime costs should always be the goal. Long-term considerations give the advantage to aluminum.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brian Thomas is Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products’ (Cleveland, OH) marketing communications manager. He oversees marketing communications and product launch efforts for the company. Brian can be reached at email@example.com.