Trailerteq has received a manus Plastic Bearing Innovation award from igus UK in recognition of the company's use of a polymer bearing to provide a dependable and cost-effective solution to a challenging engineering problem.
Trailerteq's compact Rapid Deployment Transporter (RDT) fits into the back of ordinary standard panel vans, but can be deployed and be ready to use in under two minutes, becoming a robust and reliable trailer for recovering vehicles ranging from motorbikes and cars to small vans. It is, therefore, a very popular choice for roadside recovery organisations and garages.
During the development of the second-generation 'heavy duty' RDT, however, Trailerteq discovered that the support bearing for the main arm linking the body of the RDT to the towing vehicle could not take the increased leading when the RDT's capacity was increased from 1000kg to 1250kg. Space constraints meant that it was impossible to use a larger bearing without undertaking a major redesign. Furthermore, the original phosphor-bronze bearing was prone to premature failure unless it was regreased at the specified intervals – which not all users could be relied upon to do.
In searching for a solution to this problem, Trailerteq's design engineers sought help from igus, whose iglidur polymer bearings were already being used elsewhere on the RDT. These plain bearings have extremely high compressive strength and high elasticity, which means that, size for size, they have a much higher load-carrying capacity than conventional metal bearings. In addition, the iglidur bearings require no lubrication or other maintenance, and they are highly resistant to the effects of contamination from dirt and road salt.
Stronger bearing, more compact
When the igus iglidur Z bearing was specified, Trailerteq's engineers were pleased to discover that it could be thinner than the previous phosphor-bronze bearing, so the bracket into which the bearings fits could actually be made stronger. Practical experience with production units has confirmed these expectations and no failures have been experienced with the iglidur bearing. As well as this iglidur Z bearing, the RDT uses the same grade of composite polymer for other bearings, and there are iglidur G, iglidur J and iglidur P bearings as well.
Speaking about the support his company has received from igus, Ian Dunn, the Service Manager with Trailerteq, says: "Trailerteq have always had a good working relationship with Igus; their support during the design and testing phase of the HD RDT was invaluable.
"The igus iglidur Z bearing gave us multiple benefits; being smaller than the existing, but also stronger, and combined with the lubricant-free aspects, have significantly improved the perception of the RDT. Together with the reputation of igus as a quality international supplier, this has enhanced the Trailerteq brand with potential overseas clients."
So far the second-generation RDT has been purchased by the RAC and Green Flag in the UK, and units are being trialled by a third UK recovery organisation and one in Italy.
Matthew Aldridge of igus UK states: "We selected this application for the manus Plastic Bearing Innovation award because it is an excellent example of how the use of a polymer bearing can transform the performance of a product, while helping to reduce costs. It is also an excellent example of a problem that would be very difficult, if not impossible to solve using conventional metal bearing technology.
"The bearing, as is so often the case, at first seems an almost insignificant part of the design but, ultimately, it is the critical component that determines whether the product succeeds or fails. We congratulate the Trailerteq engineers on their achievements in developing this compact yet versatile and convenient transporter and we are confident that the RDT will have very wide market appeal."
Follow the link for more information about iglidur Z bearings.