Why “Air-ride” Systems on most Industry Vans are Counterproductive?

March 7


The big picture: Within the fine art logistics industry, many suspension gimmicks have been added to cargo vans to allow service providers to say that these vehicles have “Air-Ride Suspension.” Today’s most popular cargo vans used in the art community are the Mercedes Sprinter and the Ford Transit Vans. These vehicles use the manufacturer’s single-cambered springs. The factory suspension springs provide the most optimal ride when the vehicle is loaded to each class’s weight. These vehicles have a ride feel that is comfortable, non-vibrative, and smooth in driving operation.

Why it matters: Because air-ride has become standard with larger box trucks and trailers, some art service providers have tried to augment vans manufacturer’s specifications by adding air-ride bags to either side of the rear axle. Unlike heavier vehicles like a box truck, installing a system like this on a van has the reverse effect. It stiffens the suspension by reducing the full range of the manufacturer’s design spring.

The real question: Why are some art service providers augmenting perfectly designed riding suspensions? Answer: To visibly show you they have an “air-ride” bag over their axle. Again, this is an Air Spring designed to add weight support, not “ride.”
Therefore, this stiffens the ride suspension, making for a less forgiving ride with more vibration.








Example of augmented spring suspension with airbags. This makes the ride stiffer and less forgiving to objects transported in the back.

What is the alternative: There are designs to overcome this issue in the works. They have been researching a fully designed specification for a true air ride suspension for vans in Europe. However, the height of the air-ride suspension with the higher roofs creates a tipping point around corners at speed. As an alternative, the designers implemented a full trail arm suspension which is fully and truly “Air Ride” versus adding on the “Air Spring” that all service providers use. These systems for vans are rare in the US and are prohibitively expensive.

Example of a full trail arm suspension design for vans.

Our thoughts: At Maquette, we support air-ride suspensions in all vehicles when applicable to the vehicle itself. We will continue to strive to acquire the smoothest ride by using air-ride suspension and what the manufacturer offers.

The bottom line: Be aware and be diligent by investigating why air-ride has been added to a manufacturer’s suspension. In some cases, they are not the best option.

#art #fine art services #fine art transportation #maquette #mqtfas #transport
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