While not particularly common on agricultural trailers in the UK, hydraulic motor manufacturer Black Bruin expects up to 20 per cent of trailers sold in Europe to feature a driven axle in the next five years.
The Finnish company launched its B200 series of hydraulically driven wheel motors at Agritechnica 2017, and says several major manufacturers are now using its technology in their products.
Pietu Lehtikuusi, sales director says the shift in attitude towards driven trailers is akin to the four-wheel drive shift in the early 1980s.
The company says the technology is proven and popular in the forestry and construction industries, and interest is growing from the farming sector, especially where heavy and specialist kit such as slurry tankers and crop chasers are becoming more common.
Mr Lehtikuusi says: “Multiple benefits of driven axles include increasing the working window, where terrain and ground conditions could halt progress, and the ability to use smaller, lighter tractors, leaving less of a foot print and using less fuel.”
The B200 series features four model of wheel motor, with the largest B270 producing 174hp and offering nearly 50kN of tractive force. Each wheel motor can carry 15.4 tonnes.
Multiple seals protect bearings from the ingress of dust and mud, with power to the motors coming from the tractor’s hydraulic circuit.
The system only works at speeds up to 30kph, and free wheels like a normal wheel hub when hydraulic pressure is dropped.
Taking automation a step further is the company’s on demand system which engages the wheel motors if it detects extra traction is needed.
Hydraulic flow from the tractor is constant, however a valve block on the trailer directs flow to the wheels when it is required.
Black Bruin says because the system is similar to standard wheel hubs, axle design and trailer modifications are kept to a minimum.