Articulated vehicle


Articulated vehicle - what is its definition?

What is an articulated vehicle? It is a type of vehicle, which has a special joint with a swivel mounted on one axle or between axles. This is a specially designed pivot point on the trailer coupling or in the chassis itself, which makes turning much easier. In land transport, this is a very popular option that allows you to significantly increase the capacity of the vehicle while maintaining its turning ability. Articulated vehicles can be found on railroads, in urban transport, and in freight transport. On the streets and tracks we can meet:

  • articulated locomotives,
  • Railroad passenger cars,
  • electric traction units,
  • Articulated single space streetcars,
  • articulated buses,
  • articulated trolleybuses,
  • articulated trucks.

In the case of freight transport, the representative will be an articulated truck, whose articulation is located on the front axle of its trailer. This allows not only to increase its length and payload capacity. The vehicle is then characterized by greater turning ability and much easier to turn in tight places. Some vehicles of this type require a special type of permit on Polish roads.

How does this type of vehicle work?

What is the construction of the joint and what are the characteristics of such a vehicle? First of all, the joint is located just off the first axle of the semi-trailer and there is a so-called pivot point. A second pivot point is also located on the coupling - which allows the entire wheelset to be turned much more. Mounting the pivot point on the front axle makes it swivel. You can also find very large jumbo-type sets on the market, which form a truck + trailer arrangement. In some countries such as the United States and Australia, you can also find multi-trailer sets, the so-called road trains. Due to the small extremes in our country, such sets have no chance to be approved for road traffic - only with a special permit.

Why was an articulated vehicle created? It was created for carriers who in some cases need much larger wheelsets and do not want to use two vehicles at once. Articulated trucks are also readily used on pits and in mines. Specialized excavators and construction trucks are being developed, consisting of a vehicle, articulated truck, and trailer. Some of the designs available on the European market are typically specialized and suitable only for non-standard transport, and special permits are required for such vehicles. The haulage market more often uses ballast tractors, which also allow for increased payloads, and road sets are longer than the standard ones.

Articulated truck - is it worth using?

Is it worth betting on an articulated vehicle in freight traffic? Everything depends on our needs, and in the case of typically specialized vehicles - requires additional permits. An articulated vehicle is not the only alternative on the market. A transport company can also bet on a road set of a ballast truck and a long semi-trailer. Both of these sets are characterized by a much larger capacity and allow for taking longer semi-trailers on the road. Articulated constructions are also not so popular and not all manufacturers have them in their offer. Such a trailer requires the installation of a joint and a torsion axle, which greatly complicates its construction. It also involves the purchase of spare parts for the joints.  

Does an articulated vehicle have its advantages? It has one big advantage. Any vehicle with articulation has much more torsion. A ballast truck with a semi-trailer only breaks at one point, so the gauge is greatly reduced. With an articulated semi-trailer truck, there are as many as two pivot points, allowing you to drive a larger rig in much tighter spaces. This is undoubtedly a great advantage. It works especially well for special transports. Driving an articulated vehicle requires more attention from the driver, so experienced people are better suited for this.