Ewan has been editor of Retreading Business since 2006 and of Tyre & Rubber Recycling since the magazine was founded. During this period he has become an expert on the global tyre recycling sector. He has many years' experience as an automotive journalist including a period at Tyres & Accessories.
Speedline Truck Leads Wheel Development
Speedline Truck is a brand of the Ronal Group, one of Europe’s foremost wheel manufacturers, and it is a market leader in truck wheel supply.
Ronal’s Speedline Truck Leads the Way
Wheels have been around for a long time, and there are places in the world where they are still made the way they were created thousands of years ago. However, at Speedline Truck, change is a way of life.
Truck wheels change just as car wheels do, though perhaps the focus is less on fashion and more about efficiency. Commercial Tyre Business spoke to Andreas Pape, Head of Sales at Speedline Truck, to find out what the most significant trends in truck and bus wheel development at the moment.
“The key trends are the key challenges for the whole CV industry: Sustainability, contribution for lower vehicle weights and higher payload/usable space, road safety improvements, lower cost of ownership,” explained Pape. “The most significant truck and bus development trends are derived from these key industry trends: Higher payloads and best payload/wheel weight ratio for the most energy-efficient use.
“Speedline Truck has been reacting since the launch of our forged wheel generation with a leading wheel weight/payload ratio, the most advanced weight payload offers and with specific solutions for particularly demanding segments like electric buses with specific payload demands.
“Plus, we take particularly into account road safety, starting from vehicle safety. All our wheels are designed according to European requirements and standards. They are TUV tested, with the German aftermarket approval ABE. In addition, some sizes in OEM use are also approved according to the very strict European Truck OEM standard, the biaxial Zwarp test.”
Of course, the market is always motivated to change but is that change driven by manufacturers seeking to make better products and margins, or is it a pull market from the vehicle operators? Is there a differential in demand between truck and bus fleets?
Pape responded; “OEMs define the vehicle requirements and the frame conditions, especially regarding payload demands and sustainability requirements. This can lead to specific wheel developments, also new sizes, but more often to wheel design adaptations to these vehicle requirements.
“Fleets are demanding more solutions for applications not covered or not yet covered, especially solutions to reduce the cost of ownership. Recent developments such as the Megatrailer wheel SLT 3598, the first one in 19.5x14.00, offset 0, or the fitting truck wheel 22.5x9.75”, SLT 3698, are direct replies to such fleet requests.
“Truck fleets primarily drive such requests initiated by fleets. The OEM mostly defines bus wheel equipment."
Wheels can only be one shape. They have a straightforward job to do. So how does a wheel manufacturer like Speedline Truck address the challenge of developing to meet market needs? In the tyre sector, a key word today is sustainability. Does that also follow into wheel manufacturing?
“The key challenges are and will be sustainability,” said Pape. “The instability of supply flow paths for us, as well as for our customers, the energy and transport cost and the inflationary impact significantly influencing the investment atmosphere in the transport industry.
“With the strong dedication of our mother company, Ronal Group, to sustainability, we will benefit from all already launched activities in this field. With the widely acclaimed quality of our products and our well-known leading weight/payload ratio and good price/quality equivalent, we are continuously supporting the fleets to maintain and reduce their total cost of ownership even more.
“We are expanding these advantages continuously to new applications and market segments with new wheel solutions.”
It is worth mentioning that parent group Ronal had a recycling display at the heart of its stand at The Tire, Cologne, 2022. Talking to a Ronal rep, it was explained that the Group has a vision that involves recycling materials wherever possible. Many sources of recycled materials were considered, including wheels, engine blocks, gearbox casings, etc. Recycling and sustainability have become crucial to the Group’s future in wheel manufacturing.
With that in mind, Commercial Tyre Business wondered about the latest developments in the truck and bus markets.
Pape advises; “Among the latest developments, we can speak about our SLT 3698 wheel, in 22.5x9.75”, the first forged alloy wheel in this size for the truck market. With this wheel, we are strengthening our programme for megatrailer combinations. In addition to its use on trailers for car transporters, the wheel is also suitable as a twin arrangement on low-floor tractors. The use of the SLT 3698 allows maximum utilisation of the payload space while complying with the permissible overall height of 4 m. The SLT 3698 is available in bolt hole diameter of 32 mm in the Diamond surface finish.
“In addition, we have recently presented the new SLT 3740 wheel, in 17.5x6.75”, offset 0, another unedited size among aluminium wheels, with Speedline Truck as the first to market. It is designed for trailers in the construction and transportation sector and offers less weight for more payload. The SLT 3740 has 21 and 26 mm bolt hole diameters in the Diamond surface finish.”