Suspension innovation gives competitive advantage
Tinsley Bridge Limited wanted to develop innovative high strength materials based on steel grades not typically used in suspension components, for heavy vehicle torsion bar applications.
The new products being developed are a response to urgent requests for improvements of vehicles used in Afghanistan and Iraq by the British Army, such as the Warrior Infantry fighting vehicle. Both the protection and overall mobility of the vehicles required improvements, and as a consequence, the weight significantly increased resulting in much higher loads being transmitted into the vehicle suspension.
What we did
After successfully winning a SMART grant, the company worked with the research and innovation team in our Materials and Engineering Research Centre (MERI) to develop new materials with world-leading strength through new heat treatment technology. The key innovation was to develop steels that stay ductile and do not shatter at high strength levels, ensuring good off road performance, therefore improving the Warriors suspension and maintaining vehicle ride height.
Additionally, the need for vehicle improvements in the commercial market, fuelled by rising prices in fuel and new emissions regulations being brought into place by the end of 2013, has further enhanced the company's advantage in this sector. Truck manufacturers are investing in the research of weight saving alternative materials and need suppliers such as Tinsley Bridge to innovate new weight saving solutions -something that MERI has been able to contribute to.
Mark Webber, Managing director of Tinsley Bridge said
The DNA of this business has been pioneering technological innovation. The new material could allow suspension parts to be 30 per cent lighter. It depends on the project and what flexibility you need. But it could be the equivalent of taking out 10 kilos in weight.
Mark also openly acknowledges the role that university-engagement has played in finding these real world business solutions.
A key reason we have been able to do what we have done is because we have found effective collaborations with universities. The scale of investment you need in facilities to do research is well beyond the ability of companies like ours.We are finding a real appetite within universities and we are now looking forwards to a great future of researching, designing and making products which are the best of British in every sense.