A limiting factor
In a way, the firefighting industry can be compared to Formula 1 racing. To be competitive, companies have to be at the top in terms of technology, speed and innovation. For Rosenbauer, this mentality has long been a driving factor for developing new products. However, there are often big challenges to overcome.
Firefighting vehicles, for example, are subject to many long-standing regulations in terms of payload. A two-axle vehicle in Europe has a payload limit of 18 tons. This means that when Rosenbauer was developing their new B34 vehicle, they had to search for new ways of improving heavy components like the boom. The solution turned out to be in the choice of material.
The material solution
A project to create a better boom for the B34 began in 2015. It would be used to lift up to 600 kg in the rescue cage where a firefighter can stand to apply fire suppression with a water cannon, or to access fire victims that may be trapped.
Roberto Berritta is Director of Engineering at Rosenbauer Rovereto and responsible for all technical engineering and R&D.
“Technology constantly evolves and when there is material available that allows for it, you always try to go higher and farther. Many materials were evaluated when developing the boom for the B34, however, we looked towards advanced high strength steel from SSAB. We were able to find a grade that allowed us to design the boom to exploit the full properties of the steel, thereby maximizing the performance of our rescue platforms.”
Rosenbauer designed a boom solution that has a three-part, telescopic main arm and a cage boom that can be lowered. The B34 is the first platform and technology where
the advanced high strength steel Strenx® 900 and 960, from SSAB, were used by Rosenbauer for a boom.
“It allowed us to save about 10 percent overall weight in the entire platform, explains Berritta. “Before, the highest boom we were able to achieve on a two-axle vehicle was 32 meters. The B34 can go to 34 meters. While this may seem small, when you are already at the limit in terms of reach, 2 meters is a lot. The achievement was possible only by using Strenx®.”
The new boom gives Rosenbauer a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to rescue jobs. It is also currently the tallest firefighting platform available on an 18t 2-axle firefighting vehicle.
The project to create the boom was done in close cooperation with SSAB. All of the engineering and development was done internally, however, SSAB was there to assist when needed and steer Rosenbauer in the right direction.
“My experience with SSAB has just been great. Honestly, we chose to use advanced high strength steel from SSAB for the B34, and in other applications because it does everything we need,” explains Berritta. It allows precise bending and cutting, and is extremely strong. In addition, our experience with SSAB has been great with valuable support and effort the entire way.”
Down the road
Looking ahead, Rosenbauer plans to implement the design and technology from their B34 vehicle onto other firefighting platforms.
“Now, the work is to transfer the design from this platform and take it to our other range of platforms, which vary from 32 up to 62 meters high,” says Berritta. “Overall, we are now in the process of redesigning our product portfolio with this new steel as well as with the knowledge we have acquired in the process.”