In a crowded yet growing market space, bus and coach manufacturers alike must find new and innovative ways to improve the customer experience and to this end, many have found increased passenger comfort to be a source of competitive advantage. Until fairly recently, the headrests in buses and coaches have typically consisted of little more than a rigid frame covered with a thick piece of foam. Needless to say, this did not give passengers the level of comfort desired, making it difficult to properly rest and somewhat diminishing the appeal of bus and coach travel against other forms of transport. From a maintenance perspective, traditional headrests typically require regular overhaul, often at considerable expense and inconvenience.
In response to these issues, EvoBus, a German bus manufacturer and wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, began exploring ways to differentiate its premium bus seat offering. EvoBus was seeking a product that would allow the passenger to position the headrest according to their own individual preferences and for it it remain in place during use. This search for an innovative product led the company to turn to Southco, a pioneer in torque hinge technology. Southco's experience in applying this technology to headrest design in the Automotive as well as Aerospace industries allowed EvoBus to implement a product using Southco's ST Torque Cartridge Embedded Hinge Series which features an embedded constant torque hinge within a plastic overmoulded headrest.
With current headrest designs, vertical adjustment has previously been achieved with limited success, resulting in inconsistent cycle life. Outdated vertical friction affects the reliability and functionality of headrests over time, resulting in a design that cannot maintain position and thus no longer supports a passenger's head.
Southco's headrest options feature standard integrated positioning technology, which provide reliable and flexible constant torque capabilities in a small package, allowing them to be seamlessly integrated into the bus manufacturer's moulded headrest assembly. Asymmetric torque allows the design engineer to specify various operating efforts in different directions of motion, allowing the passenger to easily pull the headrest wings forward for adjustment, yet still be supported when resting the full weight of their head against it. In addition, the hinge stays fully encapsulated and hidden, thereby enhancing the aesthetic value of the seat design. The simple assembly is complemented by convenient, maintenance-free constant torque technology, which provides constant resistance to the headrest through the entire range of motion with zero-drift and backlash.
With its international manufacturing and engineering presence, Southco offered a key design advantage in that it was able to complete the design in Germany and also support production in India, where its team of experts was able to work in close collaboration with representatives from Daimler group and its subcontractor. Martin Gaub, Project Leader at EvoBus says: "Southco's ability to collaborate on all fronts gave us the confidence that we would be given the level of support necessary to deliver the project, from start to finish."
Working in close collaboration with EvoBus, Southco played an instrumental part in delivering a headrest design that will maximise comfort for passengers across the bus and coach segments. Furthermore, Southco's approach to hinge manufacturing means that the headrests will require zero maintenance or readjustment throughout their cycle life, saving considerable time and money associated with routine maintenance.
With its global footprint, Southco offers excellent technical, operational and commercial support - this, combined with its engineering excellence and expertise in friction hinge technology, distinguished its offering from the rest - improving ergonomics and creating a quality experience designed for the next generation of bus and coach passengers.
EvoBus showcased the results at the 2015 Bus World Exhibition in Kortrijk, Belgium, the world's foremost bus exhibition, where an overwhelmingly positive response was received to the use of hinge technology.
For more information about torque hinge technology and Southco's ST Torque Cartridge Embedded Hinge Series please visit www.southco.com.