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SPECIAL REPORT

Load Bed Systems for Modern Military Vehicles

Load Bed Systems for Modern Military Vehicles Evolving in a Changing World Military Load Bed Technology Faces Real Challenges Less Specialisation Means More Capability Meeting Current Needs

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media


www.marshall-ls.com

Agility Quality Integrity

Vehicle Engineering Vehicle Integration Vehicle Regeneration Vehicle Configuration Through Life Support

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Ltd Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7RE Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373221 Fax: +44 (0) 1638 717921 info@marshall-ls.com

A Marshall Land Systems Company


SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

SPECIAL REPORT

Load Bed Systems for Modern Military Vehicles

Load Bed Systems for Modern Military Vehicles

Contents

Evolving in a Changing World Military Load Bed Technology Faces Real Challenges Less Specialisation Means More Capability Meeting Current Needs

Foreword

2

John Hancock, Editor

Load Bed Systems for Modern Military Vehicles

3

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Limited

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor John Hancock Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

Š 2012. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Background and Credentials Wheeled Logistic Systems Load System Options EPLS ISO Skeletals Loadbeds and Cargo Bodies Low or Zero Torsion Load Carrying Systems Low Torsion Zero Torsion Vehicle Mounted Mechanical Handling Equipment Contacts

Evolving in a Changing World

8

Peter Dunwell, Staff Writer

Driven by Change All War is a Battle Multi-Task not Specialist Standardisation

Military Load Bed Technology Faces Real Challenges 10 John Hancock

A Challenging Working Environment Engineering Solutions Military Needs A Collaborative Production Process

Less Specialisation Means More Capability

12

Francis Slade, Defence Correspondent

Engineering Developments Specification and Cost Supply Chain and Management Developments A More Standardised Future

Meeting Current Needs

14

Peter Dunwell, Staff Writer

Learning from Amateurs Adapting to Change Flexibility, Speed and Standardisation Next Generation

References

16

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

Foreword T

his Special Report looks at load beds, the

areas. A fire brigade will order… fire engines. It isn’t

adaptable systems which perform multiple

that straightforward for military operators.

tasks and can be fitted onto any one of a large

In the first place, they have to deliver materials and

fleet of standardised vehicles (chassis-cab units)

loads into war zones that are less easily defined

or even onto ostensibly combat vehicles.

these days: where even logistics vehicles can

The Report opens with an article that traces the

be subject to the rigours and threats which have

changes in demands placed on military wheeled

previously been more the working environment for

logistic vehicles over the last 20 years, particularly in

combat and engineering vehicles. Then they have

light of asymmetric operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

to carry an enormous variety of loads (possibly

There is an obvious need to provide logistic vehicles

aggregates and groceries but also arms, ammunition,

with significantly improved crew protection while, at

communications equipment, smaller and disabled

the same time, they must negotiate increasingly more

vehicles … even fire fighting equipment) but do not

demanding physical terrain. Marshall Land Systems,

know in advance precisely how much of each might

of which Marshall Vehicle Engineering is a part, has

be needed for any given operation.

been established since 1946 and is at the forefront

In the past, this broad requirement would be

in the manufacture of military vehicle load beds,

addressed by ordering fleets of every possible type

flatracks and logistic handling systems. The article

of vehicle that might be needed and then storing them

goes on to describe a number of options available,

‘just in case’. Today that isn’t possible financially, and

their advantages and disadvantages.

new requirements are emerging too rapidly; so a new

In terms of the equipment they need, commercial

way of organising military transport has to evolve. At

vehicle operators might be said to have it easy. Easy

its heart, is the load bed, which has highly versatile

in the sense that they know where their vehicles will

capabilities in both commercial and military situations.

be running and what they will be carrying. Thus, an

It is this often unsung but vital link in the chain of

operator hauling aggregates for the construction

military capability that we address, in its varying forms

industry will use a six or eight wheeled rigid tipper

and applications, in the pages that follow.

vehicle capable of running on unmade roads while a supermarket chain will use a fleet of curtain sided trailers hauled by heavy tractor units, built for fast running on motorways and manoeuvring in loading

John Hancock Editor

John Hancock joined as Editor of Defence Reports in early 2012. A journalist for nearly 25 years, John has written and edited articles and papers on a range of defence, engineering and technology topics as well as for key events in the sector. Subjects have included aero-engineering, testing, aviation IT, materials engineering, weapons research, supply chain, logistics and naval engineering.

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

Load Bed Systems for Modern Military Vehicles Marshall Vehicle Engineering Limited

Vehicle Engineering DESIGNED TO CARRY OVER 650 LOAD TYPES, MVE’S LOAD BEDS MAKE A RANGE OF VEHICLES FIT FOR ROLE.

Background and Credentials Dating back to 1946, Marshall Land Systems has a strong pedigree and substantial experience in the manufacture of Military vehicle loadbeds, flatracks and logistic handling systems. Since this date, the Marshall group has been involved in the design and manufacture of in excess of 80,000 units in conjunction with a range of chassis cab manufacturers and end users both in the UK and overseas. As part of Marshall Land Systems, Marshall Vehicle Engineering (MVE) now holds the responsibility within the group for vehicle engineering, becoming a centre of excellence for loadbeds, flatracks and logistic handling systems. The state of the art MVE facility at Mildenhall has been specifically established for the design, engineering and manufacture of loadbeds, cargo bodies and their ancillary equipment. Amongst other capabilities, the Mildenhall facility boasts robotic welding, a zinc phosphate and e-dip finishing plant, painting booths, waxing and assembly facilities. Following selection as a key supporting sub-contract partner for the provision of 6,600 loadbeds for the UK MoD Support Vehicle Programme, MVE has worked closely with the UK MoD and the OEM Prime Contractor to design and engineer the full range of cargo bodies required to transport in excess of 650 defined

loads on a range of chassis configurations. In satisfying the diverse requirements of the programme, MVE undertook activities including extensive finite element analysis and a full test and validation programme to satisfy both the Prime Contractor and the UK MoD. In parralell with the Support Vehicle Programme, MVE has worked closely with a number of Prime Contractors pursuing overseas contracts and in 2009 produced the load beds for the UK MoD Wolfhound UOR Programme. In fulfilling this contract, first delivery was achieved in just 8 weeks after placement of the production order, a feat that clearly demonstrates MVE’s abilities to deliver turn-key solutions rapidly to clients.

Agility Quality Integrity Vehicle Integration Vehicle Regeneration Vehicle Configuration Through Life Support

www.marshall-ls.com

Wheeled Logistic Systems The demands placed on military wheeled logistic vehicles have changed substaintially over the course of the last 20 years and particularly so over the course of the last decade. Cold War planning assumptions called for quick and efficient deployment of materiel and, where possible, a seamless interface between strategic, operational and tactical delivery means. In parrallel, detailed analysis of terrain conditions and the anticipated operating environment led to NATO mobility models and carefully defined doctrinal requirements.

A Marshall Land Systems Company

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Ltd Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7RE Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373221 Fax: +44 (0) 1638 717921 info@marshall-ls.com

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

A failure to integrate the loadbed to the vehicle correctly will reduce the performance of the vehicle as a ‘system’ and could lead to catastrophic failure of either the loadbed or the vehicle chassis.

Asymmetric operations in Iraq and Afganistan have led to two notable doctrinal changes. The first and most obvious is the need to provide logistic vehicles with significantly improved crew protection systems and secondly, the need for both operational and tactical logistic vehicles to negoitiate increasingly more demanding physical terrain because of the lack of, and risks attached to using, existing tracks. An appreciation of the effect cross country operation has on the payload, be it broken bulk stores or a ridgid body such as an ISO container or shelter, is the key skill required of the military logistic vehicle body builder and MHE integrator. A failure to integrate the loadbed to the vehicle correctly will reduce the performance of the vehicle as a ‘system’ and could lead to catastrophic failure of either the loadbed or the vehicle chassis. The commercial sector has similarly witnessed several significant developments in the way in which commodities are moved and handled. This has included a development and growth in the use of vehicle mounted mechanical handling equipment such as cranes, tail lifts and vehicle mounted fork lift trucks with which labour costs and point of delivery turn round times can be substantially reduced. Similarly, Intermodal or ISO containers have become the standard international shipping unit whether 10’, 20’ or 40 ‘ ISO containers all of which are now routinely encountered within forward military units. Cold War ammunition resupply studies demonstrated the inability to move and handle the quantity of palletised materiel, particulary artillery ammunition, using the equipment and techniques then employed, from depots to

forward deployment positions within the time available. This led to a series of innovative studies and the adoption of Palletised Load handling Systems such as the British DROPS system. Now widely used by a large number of different military users, such systems have demonstrated their utility and flexibility leading to a far wider range of uses than was initially anticipated including the carrage of ISO containers. The requirement to operate logistic vehicles wearing CBRN and cold weather protective clothing has been a feature of military procurement for many years. From an equipment perspective, however, this necessitates both hot and cold chamber testing and frequently, the need to ‘water proof’ the equipment for amphibious operations. As such, although frequently based on a commercially available drive train and chassis, the modern military logistic vehicle is required to satisfy substantially more demanding criteria than is the case for its commercial equivalent. That said, the military user is well advised to keep an eye on the developments taking place within the commercial sector in order to reduce operating costs but, above all, the deployed logistic foot print.

Load System Options Due to the ever changing complexity of logistical requirements, several Load carrying systems are currently available for military vehicles, each with their particular advantages and merits. This article aims to outline the advantages and disadvantages of each.

MVE’S SKILL SETS ALLOW FOR RAPID PROTOTYPING AND PRODUCTION FOR NUMEROUS CHASSIS TYPES.

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

THROUGH ZINC-PHOSPHATE AND E-COAT TREATMENT, PREVENTION OF LOAD BED CORROSION IS SIGNIFICANTLY ENHANCED.

EPLS Modern military vehicles commonly use palletized load handling systems, utilising a hookloader or container handling unit permanently mounted to vehicles. Where there is a requirement to be able to quickly pick up and drop the load off without further mechanical handling equipment, these systems are particularly effective in moving pre-defined loads whether fuel, ammunition or other ISO containerised loads. The principal weaknesses are the wieght of the load handling system, the weight of the flat rack if required and the inability to deliver part loads. The speed and flexibility of the equipment makes PLS systems ideally suited to strategic and operational logistic vehicles and, with the appropriate level of mobility, a large number of tactical applications. ISO Skeletals In the event that ISO or ISO compatible shelters are specifically required to be carried, and assuming MHE is available to lift the container on and off the vehicle when required, it is possible to employ an ISO Skeletal frame. Typically this is in the form of an H-frame system with a longitudinal spine that is mounted to the vehicle chassis with cross members either set at, or movable to, the correct pitch for the specific ISO Container. Twistlocks are used to quickly and firmly connect the ISO container to the frame. These allow the ISO container to be quickly, simply and firmly attached to the vehicle. There are various types of twistlock available dependant upon the user needs and national road regulations. Typically, military specification

twistlocks include a lock down mechanism to clamp the container to prevent movement and noise whilst travelling across rough terrain. ISO skeletals can be either rigidly mounted to the vehicle, or mounted using a zero torsion system depending on the mobility requirements placed on the vehicle system. The key advantage of an ISO Skeletal system is that it provides appropriate support for the ISO container at the minimum possible parasitic weight and at low cost. The principle disadvantage is that it has little or no flexibility of use unless it is provided with an auxiliary load carrying platform that can be mounted upon the ISO twistlocks in place of the ISO container. If required, there are potential operational constraints surrounding the availability of the load carrying platform once vehicles are deployed. Nonetheless, this approach is gaining favour in a growing number of countries due to the widespread use of ISO containers and weight/ cost savings. Loadbeds and Cargo Bodies The use of loadbeds and cargo bodies present an alternative to EPLS and ISO skeletals due to inherent flexibility of load carriage, particularly applicable to loads of loose or mixed cargo. Available in a number of system designs, loadbeds and cargo bodies provide a flat platform that normally include a number of lashing and tiedown points and increasingly ISO twistlocks allowing the user to mount ISO containers on the loadbed. These sytems can be provided as a flatbed with a clear deck that is open to the elements, or with hinged dropsides and tailgate, a superstructure and cover or a sliding roof.

Vehicle Engineering

Agility Quality Integrity Vehicle Integration Vehicle Regeneration Vehicle Configuration Through Life Support

www.marshall-ls.com

A Marshall Land Systems Company

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Ltd Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7RE Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373221 Fax: +44 (0) 1638 717921 info@marshall-ls.com

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

A typical zero torsion design always includes a fixed mounting to the chassis at a certain point. This retains the platform and the load, stops the load from moving and tilting and retains side to side and fore and aft loads.

Loadbeds and cargo bodies can be built and subsequently configured to match and optimise the chassis dimensions and characteristics across a fleet of vehicles. They offer the user a high level of flexibility and stretch potential allowing the uUser to carry any existing and foreseeable equipment, stores or personel. Low or Zero Torsion Load Carrying Systems There are two mounting and operating systems available for integrating loadbeds with the chassis known as low torsion mounting and zero torsion (or torsion free) mounting. Selection of either variant should be considered with regard to the performance required from the chassis, transport requirements, constraints placed upon the equipment and the loads to be carried. In each case, the condition that is considered most critical is that of the twisting that is imparted into the vehicle chassis when it is driven over uneven undulating ground. In considering a typical worst case, it may be feasible for 300mm+ of wheel elevation to occur at each axle, with these being diagonally opposite from front to back. In such circumstances substantial twist can occur in the chassis rails. A proportion of the stress resulting from this torsion is then transferred to the load platform that is mounted upon the chassis. Low Torsion The low torsion loadbed design features bearers that run across the loadbed and support the load being mounted above whilst connected by carefully designed and stressed connecting webs to a pair of longitudinal runners. In turn, these runners sit upon and are firmly attached to the chassis rails.

In the case of MVE low torsion loadbeds, springs are fitted as part of the front mounting brackets permitting a degree of compliance under maximum chassis twist to reduce the movement and induced stress. In this configuration the loadbed supports the chassis and will reduce the level of twist imparted to it. In many cases and certainly if vehicles and ISO Containers are carrying loose loads, the impact upon the load being carried is negligible, and if the loadbed and chassis are optimized, the effect will be within design and operational limits. Zero Torsion A typical zero torsion design always includes a fixed mounting to the chassis at a certain point. This retains the platform and the load, stops the load from moving and tilting and retains side to side and fore and aft loads. A pivot is integrated at the front and/or at the rear, positioned to transmit key loads as directly as possible to the subframe/chassis whilst permitting the subframe and chassis to twist, bend and deflect freely. This approach typically: 1) Reduces the torsional loadings into the payload – which is important when carrying delicate equipment. However, it should be recognised that it is not possible to isolate completely torsional loading from an ISO mounted container as it twists at the middle outwards when subjected to centripetal forces such as those encountered when cornering at speed. 2) Allows the chassis greater flexibility, but by the same token does not support the chassis to the same extent as the low torsion system. A zero torsion system typically allows greater axle deflection in severe off-road conditions,

AN MVE ZERO TORSION LOAD BED READY FOR INSTALLATION TO THE VEHICLE CHASSIS.

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

reducing differential and tyre loadings and, to some extent, ground pressure. This can contribute to vehicle and load mobility. Zero torsion systems can therefore offer improved vehicle system performance, particularly for delicate loads and when negotiating severe cross country terrain. However, they are typically heavier, have a deck that is higher above the chassis than a low torsion equivalent and are more expensive than the low torsion alternative.

Vehicle Mounted Mechanical Handling Equipment A wide range of vehicle mounted cranes is available from several established suppliers. However reach and lift capacity varies significantly. Nonetheless, they allow the vehicle crew to load and unload materiel unassisted. This increases operational flexibility and reduces turnaround times and, subsequently, the deployed operational foot print by reducing the number of MHE and operators that need to be deployed. Tail lifts have not been widely adopted by most military users. Available in a wide variety of configurations with a manual back-up capability, they offer a tried and tested solution to the distribution of materiel and are particularly suitable to the rapid and efficient distribution of equipment and materiel amongst forward units, reducing man power requirements and speeding up operations without reducing levels of tactical mobility.

Contacts For further information or guidance please contact: Simon Hughes Marshall VE simon.hughes@marshallsv.com Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373046 Fax: +44 (0) 1223 373414 Mob: +44 (0) 7768 467372 Peter Hardisty Marshall VE peter.hardisty@marshallve.com Tel: +44 (0) 01223 372616 Fax: +44 (0) 1223 373414 Mob: +44 (0) 7721956757

Vehicle Engineering

Agility Quality Integrity Vehicle Integration Vehicle Regeneration Vehicle Configuration Through Life Support

www.marshall-ls.com

A Marshall Land Systems Company

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Ltd Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7RE Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373221 Fax: +44 (0) 1638 717921 info@marshall-ls.com

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

Evolving in a Changing World Peter Dunwell, Staff Writer

As military imperatives change, load bed technology and capability must also evolve to continue to deliver, in every sense

The weight of side boards and tail boards have to be reduced and yet must be able to bear the increased weight of individual personnel wearing body armour and carrying very large packs and weapons.

Driven by Change Since World War II and the Cold War that followed, the conduct of warfare has evolved; from known enemies, identifiable frontlines and symmetric fighting styles into insurgencies and all-theatre asymmetric war with no easily identifiable enemy. And changes have not only affected battlefield operations. Women have served in military roles for more than a century but whereas once those roles were limited to nursing, catering, administration and other ‘behind the lines’ tasks, including driving, they are now active right across the armed services and particularly so in logistics and the supply chain throughout theatres of war. One obvious impact this has had on the requirements for load beds is that they should be able to be operated by smaller and lighter personnel; for instance, the weight of side boards and tail boards have to be reduced and yet must be able to bear the increased weight of individual personnel wearing body armour and carrying very large packs and weapons. Better designed frameworks and advanced materials such as composite floors

MVE SUPPORTS A NUMBER OF INTERNATIONAL VEHICLE OEMS IN THE DESIGN AND PROVISION OF LOAD BEDS AND CARGO CARRYING SYSTEMS.

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can contribute to this but, in a world of constantly evolving warfare methodologies, the comfort of ‘here to stay for a while’ technologies is definitely a thing of the past.

All War is a Battle Also, in asymmetric warfare without frontlines, it is difficult to separate equipment that needs to be battle-proof and equipment that only needs to be capable to operate behind the lines, because there is no ‘behind the lines’. As John Reeve, Director and Consultant at Araldo Ltd explains: “the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the procurement of significant new capabilities for UK forces operating in the land environment. Traditional capabilities born out of Cold War requirements, such as tanks, tracked armoured personnel carriers and unprotected utility vehicles, have found themselves all but redundant as protected mobility fleets have come to the fore.”1 With logistics resources as likely to be attacked as combat resources, load beds must also incorporate the kind of protection technologies that are used on driving cabs and other areas containing personnel. The other side of this coin is that a number of combat vehicle platforms also have to be adapted to carry loads into the most hostile conditions. That is not so new, with versions of battle tanks having, in the past, been adapted as bridging machines and other engineering equipment, but today’s combat vehicles have to deal with such varied and exotic threats that units like the latest Royal Engineers’ vehicles in the British army bear more than passing resemblance to the fighting vehicles alongside which they often operate. The operation of ‘support’ vehicles in near battle conditions poses yet further challenges for load bed manufacturers. Designing and building load platforms for vehicles like the British


SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

TWO VARIANTS OF THE UK MOD SUPPORT VEHICLE AWAITING DELIVERY FROM THE MVE MILDENHALL FACILITY.

Army’s Wolfhound tactical support vehicle to enable this battlefield vehicle to carry both loose and palletised loads2 is a good example of how much demands on load beds have changed to meet evolving military requirements. And, when operating in those sort of conditions, loading and unloading pose particular challenges for which systems such as DROPS (Demountable Rack Offload and Pickup System)3 and PLS (Palletized Load System)4 have been developed.

Multi-Task not Specialist One thing that hasn’t changed is the enormous variety of loads transported on military vehicles. But whereas in the past the military would often specify a very particular design for a very singular purpose, which often left excellent quality but little used vehicles spending years in storage, these days the aim is for a fairly standardised fleet of vehicles but with load beds able to cope with or adapt to any present or future possibilities. When producing the specification for the new generation of military support vehicles currently in production, the UK MoD identified in excess of 570 types of load which load beds would have to be equipped to carry. To give a flavour of the scope, the list ranged from forklift trucks to barbecues for the Officers’ Mess and Land Rovers, as well as the ubiquitous ISO container and the earlier non-ISO military container still in regular use by the forces, plus palletised loads such as ammunition. Load bed structures have become considerably more complex in order to cope with a greater range of potential operational

threat, the blurring between battle lines and supply lines, challenging terrain, and a much wider range of loads.

Standardisation Military vehicle manufacturers have always tried to use as many components as possible from their civilian commercial lines in order to reduce costs, simplify engineering and for ease of maintenance. All of the large vehicle manufacturers in Europe who also supply military vehicles do this and it means that load bed manufacturers have to master a wide range of engineering platforms in order for their products to operate properly. These evolving military vehicle requirements also drive many of the key issues that engineers need to consider when choosing load bed systems for modern military vehicles. They also need to take into account the capabilities and features of the various chassis and units available to the military. Vehicle manufacturers such as Iveco Defence Vehicles, MercedesBenz, MAN and Oshkosh all work with specialist engineering groups to develop body builder guidelines. And in a world where the rapid deployment of armed forces is a critical element of war fighting, vehicles and load beds need to be capable of being loaded onto and transported by other carrier systems such as military cargo aircraft and trains, within the international loading gauge. Also, with some other loads being exceptionally heavy (battle tanks at 70 tons or more) it must be possible to transport them without undue damage to the roads over which they are carried. The requirements on military load beds are many and challenging.

Vehicle Engineering

Agility Quality Integrity Vehicle Integration Vehicle Regeneration Vehicle Configuration Through Life Support

www.marshall-ls.com

A Marshall Land Systems Company

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Ltd Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7RE Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373221 Fax: +44 (0) 1638 717921 info@marshall-ls.com

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

Military Load Bed Technology Faces Real Challenges John Hancock

There are numerous technology solutions that help to overcome harsh environments and difficult conditions

When the military is delivering materials, the route is often far from a smooth metalled surface, creating tremendous lateral and vertical distortions LOAD BEDS ACCOMPANIED WITH VEHICLE MOUNTED MECHANICAL LIFTING

that no commercial operator would ever expect to encounter.

EQUIPMENT SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCES LABOUR COST AND TURNAROUND TIME.

A Challenging Working Environment Military logistics have to work in conditions that most civilian commercial operators would never encounter. Civilian commercial trucks run along largely flat and continuous metalled surfaces from loading to delivery. And yet, one of the more frequently seen reasons for traffic disruption is that a vehicle has shed its load. The load may be unevenly distributed and/or the vehicle’s suspension can transfer any contour variations to take the load beyond tipping point in extreme cases. Also, one of the most frequent commercial loads, the ISO container, is a rigid structure and quite inflexible so that any shock to the vehicle will tend to be all transmitted to the suspension and chassis.

Engineering Solutions The military is also a large user of ISO containers or ISO compliant skeletons within which varied 10 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

loads can be fitted; but when the military is delivering materials, the route is often far from a smooth metalled surface, creating tremendous lateral and vertical distortions that no commercial operator would ever expect to encounter. Hence, a key part of military logistical supply chain is in the design, quality and capability of load beds. The challenge is how to stop distortion from being transferred to the load to cause tipping. Part of that can be achieved through specialist suspension and part by allowing some movement in the chassis, but a great deal of the technology is in the engineering and fitting of the load bed. As Andrew Bucknall, UK Area Manager at Iveco Defence Vehicles puts it: “in theory there is no difference between the requirements tasks and demands for military as opposed to civilian [logistics] vehicles. But in practice, military vehicles are usually owned a lot longer than civilian vehicles and have to be capable of a much wider range of tasks.”


SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

There are two recognised ways to address these problems. The first is known as a low torsion load bed in which the structure of the load bed is allowed to flex but without transmitting that flexing to the load or container that it carries: this is achieved through a special arrangement of springs and slip rings. The other is a zero torsion load bed where the load bed does not flex at all but is allowed to pivot (around a central connection running the length of the vehicle) to maintain load orientation. A zero torsion load bed is, however, heavier, higher and more expensive than a low torsion type, reducing the load that can be carried and making it difficult for the vehicle to be put onto an aeroplane or fit the load gauge of a train, or even to fit under some bridges. Also, military load beds often have to collect or deliver loads without the aid of infrastructure support such as the overhead cranes that handle ISO containers at ports and rail heads. To cope with this, military vehicle and load bed manufacturers use a system known as DROPS (Demountable Rack Offload and Pickup System) 5 in which the load bed includes mechanism and fittings to either offload to the rear of the vehicle or on to a rail flatbed to the side. DROPS can operate with ISO containers or with a special system known as Flat Racks on which various loads can be pre-loaded for DROPS fitted vehicles. DROPS can also tow a trailer to improve driver productivity. US forces use a similar load bed technology known as Palletized Load System (PLS) based on 10x10 Oshkosh power units and fitted trailers. For all sorts of reasons, there is a longterm trend towards mechanised handling with fewer soldiers available to handle loads and with more female soldiers fulfilling logistics functions.

Military Needs There are a lot of other special needs that military vehicles and load beds need to match such as having to be tested for EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility). They need to be particularly robust in structure and technology so that they can wade through significant depths of water (up to 1m deep in one current MoD requirement) as well as operating in extreme climatic conditions. Also, exceptional levels of stability are needed, especially the ability to operate on a side slope which puts design and engineering constraints on the centre of gravity and the suspension. And as if this were not enough, they also need to be capable of being airfreighted, i.e. to fit through the loading doors and into the cargo bay of a C130 Hercules or Airbus A400M6 aircraft. The latest military chassis,

such as the Mercedes-Benz Zetros has been designed to fit not only into a C130 and Transall C160 but also conforms with the international rail transport loading gauge7. Load beds, when fitted to vehicles, have to fit within these dimensions. And there are some particularly heavy demands on load beds such as the need to move 70 ton or more battle tanks into and out of theatre8. Enemies today have devised all sorts of low-cost, low-tech means of disrupting military operations so the makers of equipment, including load beds, need to take this into account. All of this has an impact on design, engineering, materials and manufacture of military load bed systems. Andrew Bucknall again: “We like to manage the risk by working with people who have experience of military operations [and requirements]. There is always someone who can undercut on price but quality is the key in this market.” Another key requirement for military operations is that vehicles in modern warfare will usually need to be armoured9; even older vehicles have been retrofitted. This all adds weight to the vehicle which means that the load bed must compensate for that extra weight without in any way compromising its loading and stability capabilities. To replicate the harsh conditions often faced by military vehicles, Iveco Defence Vehicles has tested the integrity of chassis and load beds in the gruelling Dakar Rally10.

A Collaborative Production Process The demands on a military load bed are tremendous and varied. In the current contract to re-equip the UK MoD with a range of MAN vehicles, the makers of the 6700 load beds, Marshall Vehicle Engineering, had to take into account 700 load cases when designing the basic load bed as well as allow for more exotic variants such as cranes and winches11. The same firm is also working with Iveco in a joint bid to supply the Norwegian and Swedish Armed Forces with logistic vehicles fleets. Part of the Mercedes-Benz sales case to the military sector is that the firm works with a number of other engineering organisations to create trucks able to undertake all the tasks that military user require. And it isn’t just with large vehicles that load bed technology is important – smaller vehicles such as the All-Terrain Mobility Platform (ATMP) ‘Supacat’ are also fitted with specialist load beds to carry military loads. The technology of military load beds is a critical component in the ability of forces to operate in whatever conditions they face.

Vehicle Engineering

Agility Quality Integrity Vehicle Integration Vehicle Regeneration Vehicle Configuration Through Life Support

www.marshall-ls.com

A Marshall Land Systems Company

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Ltd Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7RE Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373221 Fax: +44 (0) 1638 717921 info@marshall-ls.com

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

Less Specialisation Means More Capability Francis Slade, Defense Correspondent

Technology and systems development drive future vehicle modernisation programmes

Costs are reduced wherever standard commercial components can be used in the building of military vehicles and, in this, developments in load bed technology – weight reduction technical simplification and standardisation to commercial protocols – can impact significantly

Load bed technology is impacting a number of areas in the military logistics supply chain and, at the same time, is itself being affected by developments in that chain. In particular, while in many ways military supply chains operate in quite different conditions to those encountered by civilian commercial supply chains, in other ways the logic that is changing all supply chains and the equipment that they employ applies equally to military conditions.

Engineering Developments Many of the changes that have taken place in load bed technology relate to engineering developments such as more efficient design, lighter and stronger construction, use of new materials like composites and the inclusion of additional equipment to support continuing mechanisation of load handling and a reduction in the numbers of personnel available to operate in the supply chain. One such development would be to incorporate the kind of load handling device made by Hiab Cargo Technology Cranes12; integrated load handling equipment which has made loading to and offloading from vehicles much easier. Also, developments in suspension, tyres, axles and drive lines are often designed to make best use of the load bed technology available; hence the often distinct appearance of military logistics vehicles. Mercedes-Benz for instance highlights that its, “range of military vehicles stands out by meeting military standards and technical specifications, such as allwheel-drive with single tyres, supreme offroad mobility, ballistic protection, air and rail transportability, fording depths up to 1 195 mm, blackout lighting system, roof hatch, tyre pressure control, etc.”13. Other military requirements that, while not specifically driven by load bed technology, are part of the overall stability package include the ability to run without one or more of the wheels or axles. And, of course, all of those military requirements such as armour plating and blast proofing plus crew

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AN MVE LOAD BED IN THE PROCESS OF INSTALLATION TO THE VEHICLE CHASSIS.

survivability add weight which, in turn, will reduce the payload on the load bed unless that bed can be engineered to compensate for the additional weight. Many of the developments in load bed technology demand greater power and capability for no greater weight from vehicle manufacturers.

Specification and Cost It is also the case that costs are reduced wherever standard commercial components can be used in the building of military vehicles and, in this, developments in load bed technology – weight reduction technical simplification and standardisation to commercial protocols – can impact significantly on the cost and engineering complexity of vehicle modernisation programmes. In the past, military clients have often over-specified vehicles and load beds, creating multiple small fleets of varied specialist vehicles that could often not be used for any other purpose. Improvements in the capability and operational scope of load beds mean that military customers can order large numbers of similarly specified vehicles


SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

AN MVE LOAD BED AND CARGO SYSTEM CONFIGURED TO SUPPORT FIRE FIGHTING OPERATIONS.

able to undertake multiple tasks depending on the load bed fitted.

Supply Chain and Management Developments For the future, this will be a feature in the construction, maintenance and operation of military vehicles that need to carry load beds and, as a result, of the load beds themselves. The big developments may well be more in the operation of load beds and vehicles than purely in their engineering. Divisible loads will ensure that large fleets of similar vehicles rather than multiple small fleets of specialist vehicles can be used across the logistics supply chain. Furthermore, a division of the supply chain into ‘in theatre’ and ‘out of theatre’ segments along with the standardisation of load bed mounting systems will enable a rethink of military supply chain management into sectors that do require specialist military vehicles and load beds and sectors that don’t require specialised equipment. This, in turn, will see the logistical supply fleets divided into a military specified fleet (with specialist load bed engineering to cope with ‘in theatre’ and battlefield conditions) and an off-the-shelf fleet which can utilise ordinary commercial technology with all of the cost savings that will bring. Indeed, a further step is that this ‘out of theatre’ fleet need not even be owned by the military and could be operated to standard commercial practices by non-military logistics specialists. While none of this is specific to load bed technology, all of it will have an impact on the manufacturers of load beds and the technological imperatives with which they have to work. It will also mean that military load bed

specification will be even more uncompromisingly aimed at theatre of operations use. John Reeve, Director and Consultant with Araldo Ltd., sums up this management conundrum very well in his article in the publication, ‘A Year of Innovation and Success’, from Iveco Defence Vehicles14; “Recent additions to the operational capability portfolio will be competing with the mature support funding lines of existing core equipment… [with organisations] inextricably linked to equipment in the delivery of capability. Some of the drivers for organisational change, such as headcount reduction, relocation of headquarters, closure of depot facilities… and the [MoD] Defence Acquisition Change Program are delivering effect now” [so account needs to be taken of them].

Vehicle Engineering

Agility Quality Integrity Vehicle Integration Vehicle Regeneration Vehicle Configuration Through Life Support

A More Standardised Future Increasingly, load bed manufacturers will have to take into account that their equipment will be serviced and maintained in standard commercial facilities rather than in heavily manned specialist military maintenance capabilities and that wherever technology can simplify the operation and cost of maintenance, that will be a factor to be taken into account when military organisations buy equipment. Similarly, vehicle modernisation programmes will need to take into account that much of the specialist capability that was once built into vehicles can now be delivered by military load beds so that the vehicle fleets can be far more standardised than was once the case. That, along with the modernisation of military supply chain management to modern commercial standards, will make the future outlook very interesting.

www.marshall-ls.com

A Marshall Land Systems Company

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Ltd Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7RE Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373221 Fax: +44 (0) 1638 717921 info@marshall-ls.com

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

Meeting Current Needs Peter Dunwell, Staff Writer

And planning for all future possibilities in a world where change is always present

The direction of development has been influenced by the changing nature of modern campaigns. Load bed manufacturers have had to find ways of providing capacity to vehicles that would previously have been considered fighting units.

The term ‘load bed’ suggests a structure mounted on a chassis-cab unit and fitted to carry containers or other items of freight. But these days there is a much wider definition of load bed reflecting the much broader and less easily categorised nature of warfare. In that sense load beds are now being developed to adapt to a number of roles ranging from combat and combat support through service support and specialist operations such as fire control and directing air strikes.

Learning from Amateurs In one sense, the amateurs were ahead of the professionals in this, as the many heavily improvised Toyota pickup trucks seen in every guerrilla, insurgency and civil war situation testify. Having previously specified and ordered specialist vehicles for many of the tasks that an army has to undertake, the professionals seem to have learned from the amateurs and now favour a fairly uniform fleet of vehicles with a more adaptable fleet of interchangeable load beds to achieve flexibility and maximum utilisation of the resources available. A good example of this for a small vehicle similar to the Toyota pickup would be CAMELEON modular mission systems from OVIK Solutions Ltd.15 with which a number of ‘loads’ can be mounted on a standard chassis-cab.

Adapting to Change But also, the direction of development has been influenced by the changing nature of modern campaigns. Load bed manufacturers have had to find ways of providing capacity to vehicles that would previously have been considered fighting units, such as the British army’s Wolfhound16 whose operational envelope stretches from frontline combat operations right through to supply chain in theatres of war where the enemy has infiltrated the whole area. Similarly, the Australian Army’s smaller Ocelot protected vehicle includes a utility variant with a load bed that can deliver palletised loads or loose loads in high threat areas such as Afghanistan. A similar load bed is available for the UK MoD’s variant on the same vehicle called the Foxhound17 produced by Ricardo plc18. On the other side of the coin, what were previously regarded as supply and engineering vehicles now have to be heavily armoured themselves even though they are based on commercial chassis-cabs. A good example of this would be the UK MoD’s order for 260 Iveco vehicles for its ‘C’ vehicle fleet and based on the company’s largest commercial vehicles chassis, designed for heavy commercial applications such as quarry work, but with full off-road capability and carrying or towing load beds capable of delivering engineering functions like earthmoving plant, engineer construction plant and field mechanical handling equipment used by the armed forces19. By combining its own engineering skills with those of specialist load bed builders, a commercial vehicle manufacturer is able to develop and quickly deliver a wide range of military vehicles.

Flexibility, Speed and Standardisation

A UK MOD SUPPORT VEHICLE CONFIGURED WITH HINGED TAILGATE, DROP SIDES AND SUPER STRUCTURE.

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In the current war fighting situation, forces have to specify and equip in real time to meet immediate threats prevalent in current war zones. So, when the Canadian Army ordered Mercedes-Benz Actros 8x8 heavy duty units in response to threats faced by its troops in Afghanistan, there was not the time available


SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

MVE’S ZINC PHOSPHATE AND E-DIP PLANT PROVIDES EXTENDED LIFE TO LOAD BEDS AND ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENTS.

AN MVE LOAD BED IN THE PROCESS OF INSTALLATION TO THE VEHICLE CHASSIS.

for a programme running over years. The need was immediate and, because the vehicles and their load beds are largely built from Military Off-the-Shelf components, the units were able to be delivered directly to Canadian forces in Afghanistan within six months. At the next level, for the UK MoD, MAN is delivering more than 7,000 vehicles to replace a fleet of general cargo vehicles including load beds to carry cargo, tanker variants, recovery versions and other functions. Speaking of this programme, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support in the previous UK Labour Government, RT. Hon. Baroness Ann Taylor said at the time the order was placed, “This milestone represents a significant achievement and is further evidence of how hugely successful the Support Vehicle programme is, delivering 7,285 new military vehicles under our £1.3bn procurement programme.”

Next Generation The next generation of military load beds will feature all of those advances in engineering that have changed every branch of the discipline. Because load beds are considered ‘parasitic’ parts of the transport solution, i.e.

not the chassis and not the load, it is the case that the less weight they impose on the chassis the more load can be carried. Numerous solutions are being explored including skeletal frameworks, although these may require additional mechanisms and engineering to carry pallets and loose loads. Also light materials, such as composites, can be used. To increase the life expectancy of load beds they will need greater protection including better quality fixings and better protective coatings on more exposed surfaces. To meet evolving and variable threats and requirements, a more flexible approach to vehicles and load beds is required for military users, who tend to keep their vehicles longer than commercial users. Vehicles like the Iveco Defence Vehicles LMV Protected Utility (PU) vehicle fitted with a load bed able to carry to NATO pallets and aimed at evolving requirements for small high mobility and highly protected utility and logistics vehicles. There are also moves to develop lower cost training vehicles with controls and load beds the same as the operational vehicles but without the other battlefield accoutrements. There are even load platforms fitted on unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) such as the multirole TRAKKER UGV, which can carry a 250kg payload while following its operator as he or she moves across the battlefield. So, while the load bed system on modern military vehicles may not be the most glamorous part of the fighting force, given its ubiquity and the need to standardise vehicles while still performing multiple tasks, it is probably the most important in capability to conduct unpredictable and constantly changing warfare.

Vehicle Engineering

Agility Quality Integrity Vehicle Integration Vehicle Regeneration Vehicle Configuration Through Life Support

www.marshall-ls.com

A Marshall Land Systems Company

Marshall Vehicle Engineering Ltd Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7RE Tel: +44 (0) 1223 373221 Fax: +44 (0) 1638 717921 info@marshall-ls.com

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOAD BED SYSTEMS FOR MODERN MILITARY VEHICLES

References: 1

2

‘A Year of Innovation and Success’ www.iveco.com Defense File http://www.defensefile.com/Customisation/News/Military_Vehicles/Spare_Parts_Components_Repair_Maintenance_Tools/Tactical_Support_Vehicle_Gains_Loadbeds_From_Marshall.asp

3

British Army website http://www.army.mod.uk/equipment/engineering/1501.aspx

4

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palletized_Load_System

5

Armed Forces http://www.armedforces.co.uk/army/listings/l0146.html

6

Airforce Technology http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/fla/

7

autoblog http://www.autoblog.com/2008/06/24/mercedes-introduces-their-new-zetros-military-truck/

8

British Army http://www.army.mod.uk/equipment/engineering/1500.aspx

9

Army Technology http://www.army-technology.com/contractors/vehicles/iveco/

10

‘A Year of Innovation and Success’ www.iveco.com

11

Marshall Land Systems http://www.marshallsv.com/Marshall_Vehicle_Engineering_Profile.aspx

12

Hiab http://www.hiab.co.uk/Products/Loader-cranes/

13

‘Mercedes Benz military vehicles where mobility meets protection’ http://www.mercedes-benz.co.za/content/south_africa/mpc/mpc_south_africa_website/en/home_mpc/truck_home/home/trucks/Military_Vehicles/News.html download ‘Mobility meets Protection’

14

‘A Year of Innovation and Success’ www.iveco.com

15

OVIK Solutions Ltd. http://www.cameleon-mms.com/military/

16

Defense File http://www.defensefile.com/Customisation/News/Military_Vehicles/Spare_Parts_Components_Repair_Maintenance_Tools/Tactical_Support_Vehicle_Gains_Loadbeds_From_Marshall.asp

17

18

Marshall Land Systems http://www.marshallsv.com/press-releases/Ocelot_Utility_Uses_MLS_Loadbed.aspx Ricardo plc http://www.ricardo.com/en-GB/News--Media/Press-releases/News-releases1/2012/Ricardo-receives-sub-contract-for-Foxhound-production-from-General-Dynamics/

19

Army Recognition http://www.armyrecognition.com/italy_italian_defence_industry_company_uk/iveco_defence_vehicles_armoured_truck_army_military_vehicle_defense_company_industry_weapons_system.html

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Special Report – Load Bed Systems for Modern Military Vehicles