Reduced weight – not stability

Reading time: approx. 4 minutes
Text: Oliver Schönfeld
Photos: Holger Jacoby, August Schmidt GmbH & Co. KG

Lose a good 20 per cent of weight in just three months. The vehicle manufacturer experts at August Schmidt GmbH & Co. KG from Hagen have succeeded in this feat: Their new coil semitrailer meets all the requirements of modern lightweight construction without sacrificing stability. Numerous lightweight components from BPW contribute to the successful diet – from aluminium wheel hubs to lightweight trailing arms.

Trailer by August Schmidt lasts and lasts and lasts. The constructions from Hagen in Westphalia have always been known for their durability. Some of the vehicles have been in operation for over 40 years. “We have a reputation for being particularly robust, but also somewhat heavier to build than others,” says Uwe Schmidt, who is the fourth generation of his family to head the family business as managing director. But things are definitely different and lighter, as the latest development from our own design office proves. For a coil trailer in lightweight construction, the technicians have put every detail to the test and optimised it. The result is an empty weight of only 5,980 instead of the original 7,600 kilograms.

From the forging shop to vehicle construction

The roots of the family business reach back more than 150 years into the past: August Schmidt, the great-grandfather of today’s managing director Uwe Schmidt, founded the company as a forging shop in the 19th century. After the Second World War, the company made a new start as a specialist in vehicle manufacturing – initially mainly for industrial customers from the nearby Ruhr area and the Sauerland, but today for customers from all over Europe. Repair and service and the spare parts business are the other pillars of the business.
The roots of the vehicle construction company go back more than 150 years. Here is a historical photo of the vehicle fleet from the 1920s.

Reduce trailer weight in favour of the payload

The development of the lightweight trailer is typical of August Schmidt’s approach to vehicle construction: close contacts with the market and customers constantly provide new impulses for development. “With our special vehicle construction, we create solutions and added value for our customers, which large suppliers are not able to realise at all due to their industrial production”, Uwe Schmidt describes. In this case, the Spedition Trippler from Dillenburg in Hesse was not satisfied with the current coil trailers. The challenge was to design the vehicle as light as possible in terms of its high payload weight. At the same time, the trailer should not fall apart after just a few years of operation despite the permanent loads. “We have had a long-standing partnership with the Trippler freight forwarding company; our fathers already worked closely together,” reports Schmidt. “That is why we were particularly happy to take up this challenge”.

»With special vehicle manufacturing, we create solutions and added value for our customers that large suppliers are unable to realise at all.«

Uwe Schmidt, Managing Director of August Schmidt GmbH & Co. KG

All details put to the test

Three months of intensive development work and testing followed. The sum of numerous improvements to details finally led to the desired lightweight construction. “We have literally tackled everything. Using special QSD steel, we were able to make the chassis lighter and at the same time guarantee the desired stability,” explains Co-Managing Director Andreas Wittke. All main and cross beams were redesigned, the coil well was made of solid aluminium. There was even room for optimisation in the tyres: For weight comparison, different models were weighed on the scales to select the lightest solution.
During the entire development phase, the vehicle manufacturer was in close contact with the customer. “It is also usual for us to have an acceptance date after the body shell has been built,” says Wittke. “Because at this point we can still make flexible adjustments if the customer wishes.”

Lightweight components from BPW

BPW Bergische Achsen provided significant impulses for the design of the lightweight trailer. For the first time, Schmidt used the latest lightweight components from Wiehl for the design of the coil trailer – from the BPW aluminium hub and running gear to the innovative BPW LightTube trailing arm. BPW achieves a saving of 42 kilograms on the one hand by designing the trailing arm as a forged hollow profile. A further 56 kilograms can be saved in the three-axle unit by installing aluminium wheel hubs in the running gear. In total, these two lightweight components make the three-axle unit 96 kilograms lighter. BPW is thus making a significant contribution to successfully reducing the vehicle’s weight – without sacrificing stability.

The point load of the lightweight vehicle is designed for 28 tonnes. However, lightweight construction does not only mean more payload, but also lower fuel consumption and fewer emissions. “For us, sustainability also includes building particularly durable vehicles and thus offering the customer added value over the long service life. We believe that these requirements are met by the lightweight components from BPW,” emphasises Co-Managing Director Andreas Wittke.

Another first is the use of LED lighting technology on the lightweight coil trailer. The compact 7-function tail light from Ermax combines a slim design with an impact-resistant lens and the integration of all prescribed controls. This means that the tail light can be coupled to any tractor – without error messages. The indicator control functions just as smoothly as the legally required brake light failure control.

From prototype directly to series production

The forwarding agency Trippler was able to take over the prototype of the lightweight coil trailer in spring 2020 – and was immediately impressed by its low weight and the typical Schmidt-style robust construction. In November 2020 the fourth trailer of its kind was already delivered, and further orders have been received. Two special solutions – one with a folding roof, the other with widenable corners – have also been realised in the meantime.
August Schmidt and BPW have been partners for decades. “We have complete confidence in the advice, the technical solutions and the flexibility”, says Uwe Schmidt. It is a mutual business relationship: “More than 20 years ago, August Schmidt built the first test trailers with disc brakes for us,” confirms BPW sales representative Reinhard Hamm (right)
Every vehicle is manufactured by August Schmidt almost like in a factory. “We process the longitudinal beams on an automatic welding machine. Otherwise we weld everything by hand,” Andreas Wittke explains. A skilled worker thus accompanies “his” chassis over the entire production process. “With this enormous manufacturing knowledge, we can guarantee the quality that our customers expect.” The approximately 50 Schmidt employees, with their decades of experience and competence, thus form an essential capital of the company, as the managing director emphasises. “It is particularly important to us to train personnel ourselves and to bind them to the company in the long term.” 150 vehicles roll off the company’s premises every year. It is not intended to become more – instead, August Schmidt deliberately focuses on specialisation and success in the market niche.
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