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March 1, 2018

How One Bus Company Saved Money by Shifting to Forged Aluminum Wheels

SinDian Bus Company is a family-run transport company with over 300 buses serving the Taipei and New Taipei City area in Taiwan. Serving 22 routes around the Greater Taipei area, the 37-year old company believes that operational efficiency and a hands-on approach helps them win the business game.

One unique approach the company has done is to use a single make for their entire bus fleet, simplifying their entire parts and repair requirements. For instance, at their New Taipei City bus depot, the 10-in-house mechanics is able to maintain the fleet of 173 buses stationed there.

Then things got a little bit more interesting.

Aside from a well-maintained bus fleet and a well-trained driver pool, SinDian Bus Company then focused on reducing the weight of their buses in order to improve fuel efficiency. In the process, they discovered Alcoa forged aluminum wheels.

While it’s something fairly common in high-performance automobiles, forged aluminum wheels are also beneficial for commercial vehicle use. Founded in 1888, the Aluminum Company of America or Alcoa has been finding applications for aluminum from cookware to bottles to automobiles and airplanes. Utilizing excess forging capacity at the end of World War II, the company introduced the world’s first forged aluminum wheel in 1948.

With three manufacturing plants in the world (USA, Hungary, and Mexico), Alcoa is the leader in commercial vehicle forged wheels business with a market share as high as 90 percent in some areas.

Their modern forged wheel line-up, which first came into the market in 2002, is made of 6061 Forging Grade Aluminum Alloy—the same grade used on the fuselage of modern aircraft and even the Aluminum Space Frame of the Audi A8. Solid forged in an 8,000-ton press, it’s six times stronger than its conventional steel counterpart and yet, is 50 percent lighter.

Since using them on their non-step buses two years ago, SinDian Bus Company says that the shift to Alcoa forged aluminum wheels has increased their bus’s fuel efficiency by 18 percent while reducing their tire wear by as much as 20 percent. Furthermore, because aluminum offers three times better thermal conductivity than steel, the bus’s braking systems are kept cooler by up to 22 degrees Celsius. Ultimately, this makes their brakes work more efficiently making the buses safer. Currently, SinDian Bus Company uses the Alcoa wheels on 113 of their buses with plans to install it on more units in the near future.

Globally Alcoa has been supplying their forged aluminum wheels as Original Equipment (OE) for leading truck makers such as DAF, Scania, MAN, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz. Aside from the aforementioned benefits, shifting to these wheels enables an increase in payload capacity and this has piqued the interest of the growing number of Chinese truck manufacturers such as FAW. Mining, petrochemical, logistics, and transportation companies have also come to rely on Alcoa as their business partner.

In the Philippines, Alcoa forged aluminum wheels for trucks is distributed by Pioneer Truck Parts and Equipment Corporation with showroom and office located at 341 G. Araneta Avenue, Barangay Santol, Quezon City.

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