AT THE END of 2009, Navistar International said its truck sales were the lowest in 47 years. Daimler Trucks, owner of Freightliner, lost $1.3 billion in operating income after making $2 billion in 2008. Well into 2010, both companies report better sales than this time last year, and are continuing to launch new products.

Once the economy picks up, and the phrase “capital expenditures” no longer sends concrete producers into a cold sweat, heavy-duty equipment manufacturers are ready. While sales have been down, these companies have continued to invest millions of dollars in developing better technologies for the construction market.

As producers begin to invest in their fleets again, it is more important than ever that each component meets their unique needs and is specified correctly. Following are some examples of heavy-duty trucking equipment that is tailored to the rough demands of the concrete industry.

Suspensions for rugged terrain

The versatile TufTrac suspension is designed for vocations such as concrete delivery, construction, and heavy hauling. Its inherent stability is ideal for high center of gravity applications. TufTrac handles rugged terrain and maintains a uniform wheel load, whether a vehicle is loaded or unloaded. It is available in three capacity ratings, from 40 – 52,000 lbs. Freightliner Corp. 503-745-8000.

Follow speed limits

Electronic Overspeed Controls (EOC) for Powershift Power Take-Off's prevent operation of driven equipment at excessive speeds. The EOC protects auxiliary power equipment such as hydraulic pumps, generators, and product pumps by keeping operation within required limits. A new, smaller EOC offers simpler installation within the truck cab. No special equipment is needed to set operating limits. Chelsea Products, div. of Parker. 800-272-7537.

Steerable lift axles

The Composilite Steerable Compliant (SC) series of lift axles features reduced system weight and minimized package space. A full range of capacities is available, including 10,000, 13,500, and 20,000 lbs. The series uses Compliant Tie Rod with PerfecTrak Technology, a flexible tie-rod assembly and dampening system designed to resist impact. Hendrickson International Corp. 866-743-3247.

Transmissions for demanding jobs

Three new UltraShift PLUS automated transmissions are designed to enhance ready-mix truck operation in demanding construction environments. Each has application-specific features, including deep reduction gearing, high-speed reverse, ultra-low gear reduction. UltraShift PLUS transmissions have automated clutch technology and intelligent shift selection software for efficient, safe performance. Eaton Corp. 800-826-4357.

Get the right support

Airide springs are designed to meet the needs of heavy-duty vehicle suspension applications. The product line includes primary trailer, lift axle, drive axle, front axle, cab mount, and seat air springs. Airide springs require little or no maintenance, help to equally support the load, and provide performance-handling characteristics when paired with a properly installed suspension system. Firestone Industrial Products Co. 800-888-0650.

High-stability suspensions

800 Series rubber spring tandem truck suspensions feature full parallel and diagonal articulation and no-hop breaking. They improve traction on uneven ground because the axles do not transfer weight from one to the other. The HS Model is designed for high stability on high center of gravity applications. Chalmers Suspensions International Inc. 905-362-6400.