Lightweighting the future of transportation

Sapa Profiles UK has played an integral role in a ground-breaking development for improved transport efficiency. DAF Trucks, with the support of Sapa, have created a prototype distribution truck with significantly reduced weight, resulting in lower fuel consumption and therefore reduced CO2 emissions.

Alongside lead partner Leyland Trucks, and C.S.A Group, Sapa designed and extruded the aluminium that helped create the lightweight concept vehicle. Because of its qualities such as being light weight and strong, aluminium extrusion is used extensively throughout the chassis and is combined with a number of innovative design concepts from Sapa to improve efficiency.

The project was co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. The brief was to design and manufacture a new chassis system that will provide a minimum weight saving of 30% compared to the conventional steel chassis produced by Leyland Trucks. The DAF Future Truck Chassis Concept (FTCC) has achieved an impressive weight saving of 500 kilograms on a 12 tonne truck.

Sapa’s design engineers approached the task of reducing the weight considerably by rethinking the construction of the chassis and its assembly method.  The aluminium floor was designed to be a structural element of the chassis, allowing the removal of runner sections and cross bearers. In addition to weight saving measures, the project included a number of other advanced vehicle features such as independent front air suspension with rack and pinion steering, to investigate its benefits in terms of ride quality, steering precision and vehicle packaging improvements. After extensive rounds of design proposals, evaluation and testing, the final concept chassis used 515 kilograms of aluminium, and helped achieve a weight reduction of 30.5%; surpassing the aim of the project brief.

Rob Lawton, Senior Engineer at Leyland Trucks commented “Light weighting is at the heart of our global efforts to reduce fuel consumption and thus emissions. Increasing payload without loss of vehicle integrity is fundamental to that process. Our FTCC project has achieved our objectives: a 30% weight saving focused on the components used in the main truck chassis frame, body under structure, front suspension and steering.

He continues “We approached Sapa Profiles UK to help on this project because they are the leader in their field and we required the very best in design and technical knowledge for this project. Sapa’s expertise was important in the delivery of DAF Trucks aim to create the most efficient vehicle possible.”

Managing Director of Sapa Profiles UK, Yann Beck said “As much as 25% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the transportation sector, so initiatives such as this are essential. Sapa is committed to shaping a sustainable future through innovative aluminium solutions.  We were delighted Leyland Trucks chose Sapa as a partner for this project as they are aligned with our fundamental ethical values; respect for the environment and society.”

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