Fuel emissions & part costs slashed with lightweighting 24 July 2019

Global street cleaning vehicle manufacturer Johnston Sweepers is reaping the benefits of switching from metal fabricated components to plastics moulded parts with the assistance of injection moulder Broanmain Plastics.

Vehicle weight reduction is an essential factor to consider for meeting future fuel economy standards. For some time, Johnston Sweepers had considered switching from metal fabrication, predominantly steel, to plastic vehicle components, such as caps, levers and water outlets.

However, low production volumes combined with the initial capital outlay for mould tooling made the investment hard to justify. Additionally, with vehicles exported across the world, components needed to be able to withstand extreme heat and cold temperatures, and perform in wet, dry, dusty and sandy environments.

Steve Hurst, head of purchasing at Johnston Sweepers, recalls: “The Broanmain team encouraged us to review our way of thinking, presenting us with a range of durable materials and sensible tooling prices that enabled us to realistically consider changing to plastic moulding. By sourcing the tooling from a high-quality Chinese-based specialist, we were able to justify the payback.”

The project began by looking at the filler cap. Since then, Broanmain has helped convert more than 30 metal parts to plastic, among them a complex suction water outlet integral to the road sweeping operation, as well as a holster for the pendant that enables the driver of a sweeper to walk outside of the cab and operate the machine to lift and tip the body.

“The switch to plastic has been a slow development over the past decade,” concludes Hurst. “Where we see the opportunity for plastic we will use it. And as we move more into all electric vehicles and zero emissions, lightweighting will become increasingly imperative.”

Adam Offord

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