Kässbohrer - Champion of innovation

Kässbohrer tippers and trailers have been around for quite a while. In fact, it is 127 years, to be precise, since Karl Kässbohrer established the company in the German city of Ulm, the birthplace of Albert Einstein.

The world’s most famous physicist would no doubt have approved of Kässbohrer’s innovation, not least because of his work on the laws of motion and the company’s own ground-breaking work in manufacturing high payload-carrying vehicles - including its first 40-tonne semi-trailer in 1938.

Kässbohrer clearly knew its stuff, and continues to develop trailers that push the boundaries of expectation for the business and its customers.

“We’re really excited to be taking a new style of trailer with EU vehicle-type approval with permissible weights of up to 29.5 tonnes,” Ian Nolan, national operations director, Kässbohrer UK says.

“When we [MM Acquisitions] took over the franchise, we had to go backwards and talk to the people who’d bought them before. There wasn’t enough service support or back up, so we’ve now got a partnership with service providers and have 828 locations in the UK.”

This new structure has already begun to reap rewards, says Nolan, with a 30% increase in sales thanks to the new support network. “If you can’t work your vehicle it’s catastrophic,” he adds. “We realise that downtime is the negative side of haulage and that it is our job to prevent that as much as we can.” 

The new unit is the Kässbohrer K.SKS, ahigh-strength steel trailer that threatens to mak traditional 8-wheelers redundant. It’s 4.9m wheelbase and 6.3m overall length (from the king pin to the rear axle) combine with BPW air suspension axles rated to 9-tonnes.

However, the important feature of the K.SKS is that it’s overall payload can reach 29.5 tonnes without overloading the 8-tonne legal maximum of any one axle.

If paired with the right lightweight tractor unit, it can prove more productive than a traditional 8-wheeler with its payload and 24cu m capacity.

“We’ve done exhaustive testing and have found we can carry 8 tonnes over each axle and provide a payload of up to 29.5 tonnes with the correct towing vehicle. I’d like to see this type of vehicle become the majority vehicle on the highway, helping to reduce emissions,” Nolan says. 

Customers are already finding the trailers to be a major benefit for their work, achieving higher payloads and reducing carbon emissions in the process.

Darren Colderley, transport manager at family-owned earthworks and demolition contractors Fox Brothers, explains: “We’ve used them to increase the fleet size and grow the business, because they are suited to a lot of the jobs. The smaller trailer size helps with access and can go a lot of places that the 8-wheelers would struggle.”
Fox Brothers has seen a large increase in demand for brick, reclaimed brick and other quarry stone to sites and has expanded from just four vehicles to a fleet of 66 within the last five years.

The Kässbohrer trailers have enabled it to carry more product and complete larger jobs quicker and more efficiently. “You still need the 8-wheelers for some of the other sites, where the artics aren’t as capable,” Fox continues.

“They don’t have the four-axle spread and the weight spread that a tipper does and they only have the one drive axle, but they carry more weight, which suits the customer. The price is cheaper, it suits
every one. They’re getting an 8-wheeler and a half every time. It’s really good for the carbon footprint and if they want 500-tonnes you can do it a lot quicker in an artic.”
Colderley’s fleet of 12 artic tippers are pulled by a mix of Volvo and Scania tractor units that have sleeper cabs to enable the drivers to work away on larger jobs.

Nevertheless, trailers are still hauling 28,500kg, a significant improvement upon the payloads seen in the company’s rigid fleet.

MAN launches its New Truck Generation TGX

MAN has launched its New Truck Generation TGX, its biggest project since the TGA in 2000.

The truck, which is the product of 12 million man hours (1,300 years), features 20,000 new parts.

Although the 20-year-old cab shell remains unchanged, all of the external panels have been redesigned. It’s more slippery than its predecessor, which together with its Euro-6d engine makes it up to 8% more fuel efficient than a current generation Euro-6c. You can expect this figure to improve further when the redesigned mirrors are replaced by cameras.

The front of the truck supposedly resembles a lion’s face and MAN says this inspired the gold launch colour.

The biggest changes have occurred inside the cab, which now features a new dashboard and a pair of colour screens. The primary one, located in front of the driver, comes in a choice of 5” or 12.3”, while the secondary screen is either 7” or 12.3”.

Neither are touchscreen, and are instead controlled by a pair of Smart Select dials. MAN says it does not consider touchscreens to be suitable for trucks, due to the difficulty of operating them accurately while seated in an air-suspended seat.

The quality of the interior has been stepped up, and the revised switchgear is more tactile than before. A new multifunction steering wheel features two banks of switches. Those on the left are for driving the truck, while the right ones are dedicated to infotainment.

Headlight, hazard light and door lock switches are located on the bottom of the driver’s door, operated from outside the truck when the door is open. The truck now features a dash-mounted electronic handbrake, but like the dash-mounted screens, in some markets it will be a delete option.

MAN also launched the Individual Line flagship truck, which features a few extra bells and whistles.

It also revealed face-lifted versions of the rest of the range, comprising TGL, TGM and TGS models, all featuring the availability of digital dash screens.

See next week’s Commercial Motor (20 February) for a full report and driving impression.