Why all the interest in trailer steering?

…the short answer: urbanisation.

By using a steered semi-trailer, transport companies can deliver larger loads effortlessly and safely at locations which previously were only accessible with trailers having a rigid, shorter wheelbase. Other benefits such as reduced tyre wear, better fuel consumption and less suspension system wear all contribute to the fact that trailer manufacturers and transport companies focus in particular on trailer steering.

Trailer steering – the main benefits:

  • Greater trailer utilisation
  • Vastly improved manoeuvrability
  • Reduced tyre wear
  • Lower fuel consumption
  • Less road surface damage
  • Reduced number of transport movements
  • Reduced CO2 emissions
  • Reduced fine particle emissions
  • Significant reduction in cost per kilometre
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The widest range of trailer steering solutions available...

IMS Group is uniquely positioned to offer the market a complete portfolio of trailer steering solutions including:

  • SAF-Holland self-steering axles
  • SEM mechanical steering systems
  • GreenSteering cable-operated mechanical steering systems
  • VSE Intelligent electro-hydraulic steering systems

Our technical experts are there for our customers and gladly advise fleet operators and trailer builders regarding the best steering solutions for their specific requirements.

Keep scrolling for a brief overview of each of the different types of trailer steering system.

SAF-Holland Self Steering Axles

Self-steering axles have been developed to cope with special transport factors in delivery services such as tight, winding roads, and in particular for semi-trailers with a wheelbase so long that legislative requirements would not be met without them.

How they work

Put very simply: the SAF-HOLLAND self-steering system relies on the castor principle found on virtually all shopping trolleys.  Because of the friction of the road surface, the wheels of a self-steering axle will always turn to point in the direction of the semi-trailer combination.

With the SAF-HOLLAND self-steering axle, the stabilisation of the self-tracking action and the subsequent return to the straight-ahead position are carried out by a sturdy, internal stabilisation damper.

SAF-HOLLAND self-steering solutions are available in both disc and drum brake versions and can be specified to suit any wheel/tyre combination.

Benefits

  • Less tyre wear
  • Lower fuel consumption
  • Higher level of driver comfort
  • Optimal manoeuvrability
  • Higher trailer resale value
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SEM Mechanical Steering

The SEM single bar and double rod mechanical steering systems are designed and engineered to exacting quality standards in the Netherlands.

How it works

With single bar or double rod systems the entire axle, including its suspension, is mounted on a turntable, so the whole assembly rotates when driving around a corner. The main advantages of this steering configuration are that it is relatively easy to manufacture/install and that axles equipped with single and twin tyres can easily be accommodated.

The primary component in the SEM single bar steering system is a steering wedge. This is connected to the truck’s fifth wheel, so that the steering movement can be transferred directly to the trailer rear axle(s).

Benefits

  • Improves the manoeuvrability of the vehicle
  • Saves tyre wear
  • Reduces maintenance costs
  • Reduced fuel costs
  • Reduced damage costs
  • Constant and consistent steering behaviour (full or empty)
  • Reliable
  • Low maintenance
  • Customised requirements can be accommodated
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Green Steering - Cable Operated Mechanical Steering

GreenSteering is a patented brand of IMS Group. The acquisition of GreenSteering means further expansion of the portfolio of trailer steering solutions.

With more than 4,000 systems installed in Europe, the GreenSteering system has fully proven its worth over the past years.

How it works

GreenSteering uses its own specially-developed and patented polyvalent cables as central components of a high-quality steering system offering several unique features that all lead to a reduction in CO2 and fine particle emissions.

Benefits

  • Extreme manoeuvrability, linear steering angles
  • More payload by virtue of its light weight
  • Reduced fine particle, CO2 and NOx emissions
  • Minimum maintenance and service requirement
  • More loading space due to low structural height
  • Optimised steering angles reduce steering and turning stresses in the chassis
  • Reduced fuel consumption and tyre wear
  • Significant improvement in cost per kilometre
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VSE Intelligent Steering Systems

Take your trailers where they’ve never been before with VSE.

A 13.6 metre long trailer equipped with the VSE electro-hydraulic trailer steering system can reach delivery addresses which were previously only accessible with small trailers for urban applications. Because of the use of a VSE steering system, transport companies can radically standardise their fleets for maximum efficiency.

VSE can be fully configured for one to three steered axles on a standard semi-trailer and for additional axles on specialised transport trailers. The system does not take up any installation space in the trailer body, so load capacity is not affected, Due to the intelligent design, the axles can be positioned for optimal load distribution/trailer operation.

How it works

The steering signal for the axles is determined by the articulation angle between trailer and truck by means of a non-contact magnetic angle sensor, integrated in the trailer’s kingpin. By moving the sensor, an electronic signal is sent to the steering system instead of using a mechanical construction (rod or cable) or a hydraulic coupling.

Each steering axle also has a ‘centring’ hydraulic cylinder which can lock the wheels in a straight-ahead position.

A wireless remote control can be used to change the steering angles without the semi-trailer needing to be moving.

Benefits

  • Enhanced fleet productivity
  • Minimum installation space requirement; so no reduction in load-carrying capability
  • Low maintenance costs – no lubrication points/maintenance on turntables
  • Fuel savings – a VSE system is about 500kg lighter than mechanical systems
  • Ease of installation/commissioning – plug-and-play system with custom-written software for multiple axle configurations
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VSE Smart Steering

The electro-hydraulic steering assistance system for one steered trailing axle

VSE Smart Steering is an electro-hydraulic steering system that allows a trailing axle to be steered during forward and reverse movement of a trailer. It is a standard system for one steered trailing axle.  The major advantage is that it is now possible to make a trailer with a trailing axle more efficient and suitable for a broader range of loading and unloading situations. After all, the rear axle no longer has to be set in a fixed position when reversing.

How it works

A sensor on the kingpin measures the angle between the truck and the trailer. On the basis of these data, the software in the system cabinet calculates what the corresponding angle of the self-steering axle should be. The cylinders on the axle then steer the self-steering axle until the desired angle is reached. The desired angle is measured by another sensor on the axle.

Benefits

  • Superior manoeuvrability: full length trailers and extra long semi-trailers can manoeuvre much more easily
  • Enhanced operation efficiency: significant improvement in trailer loading/unloading speed
  • Compact, quick and easy-to-install, low maintenance system
  • Versatile: suitable for any type of trailer with a self-steering axle
  • Can be retrofitted: easily added to existing trailers
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