The guys at Tough Dog Suspension (Tough Dog) are passionate about all things 4WD and are committed to investing in the strength and safety of off-road vehicles in the global mining industry.
With mining companies operating in some of the harshest environments on the planet, and vehicle operation featuring as one of the highest risks to operators, mining fleets and vehicles must be specifically designed and engineered to deliver safe performance.
Tough Dog has been “making tracks across the world” since 1984 and has grown rapidly as a result of their commitment to both safety and high quality of their specifically designed and engineered 4WD products.
The Australian Mining Review spoke with Tough Dog’s Fleet and Corporate Manager, Blake Jones, to learn how the company’s Fleet program, Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) program and tailored suspension packages are supporting mining clients globally.
As an industry leader in innovative and quality suspension systems for just about every 4WD application, Tough Dog’s products are in high demand across a global distribution network spanning 41 countries including Africa, Russia and the Philippines.
“With 35 years of industry experience and a combined experience of over 100 years, we are able to support global clients in the mining, fleet, government and commercial sectors by providing them with our custom fleet service, gross vehicle mass (GVM) program or tailored suspension packages that can transform a vehicle for any use,” Blake said.
In 2018, Tough Dog took up residence in its new headquarters in Marsden Park, Sydney.
Featuring dedicated facilities for Research and Development, Design and Manufacture, and Bulk Production, the new home of Tough Dog marked the beginning of a new chapter in its journey to maintaining their top spot as global leaders in the 4WD industry.
Awarded For Business Excellence
Tough Dog has developed a product to suit just about every possible 4WD application and is proud that each one has been developed on home ground, here in Australia.
“With some of the harshest conditions right here in Australia to test out products, the gear we take to the market, is a cut above the rest,” Blake said.
Tough Dog’s pioneering attitude to R&D has helped it gain industry recognition and lead the way with several unique products.
“The hard yards and hours perfecting our product range were officially recognised when the Tough Dog 41mm Foam Cell Shock was awarded first place in independent shock absorber testing by Australian 4WD Action Magazine,” Blake said.
“We were also awarded three runner-up positions – the most significant was in the Defence Industry category – and a win in the Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence (WSABE) in Export category.”
Tough Dog Products
Tough Dog products are specifically designed and engineered to deliver a complete suspension solution, not only for safety and load carrying capability, but for ride quality and handling.
Their suspension kits have been designed to suit a large range of commercial vehicles such as Toyota Hilux, Toyota Landcruiser, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton and many other vehicles.
“We offer one of Australia’s largest range of suspension specific products for the fleet and commercial industry which can be tailored exactly to our client’s exact needs,” Blake said.
Fleet Advantage Program
Tough Dog recently initiated a Fleet Advantage program with a strengthened focus on providing tailored suspension solutions for mining, fleet, government and commercial clients.
“Having had 35 years in the 4WD industry, we identified the global need for better suspension solutions for many of today’s vehicle fleets,” Blake said.
“We initiated our Tough Dog Fleet Advantage program to provide tailored suspension solutions for our clients with market leading three year/unlimited kilometre commercial warranty.”
Tough Dog understands that selecting the right suspension for a 4WD is all about matching the components with both the weight it will be carrying, and the vehicles’ intended use.
“We offer our clients access to an online Build & Buy System, to allow selection and purchase of suspension kits online,” Blake said.
The allowable payload on most modern 4WDs seems great on paper, but this quickly gets eaten up when the vehicles are fitted with bull bars, trays, equipment, and of course passengers.
If a fleet vehicle loaded beyond its factory GVM is involved in an incident, or a component in the vehicle fails as a result of over loading, a business could be exposed to claims of breaches in occupational health and safety legislation or employee negligence.
There is also a strong possibility that the company’s insurance protection and vehicle warranty will be void which will result in costly component repair.
Remaining under the manufactures Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) specifications can seem like a tough task but this is where the Tough Dog GVM program can assist.
Tough Dog provides suspension solutions for owners and managers of vehicles who have a need to carry loads which exceed the manufactures specifications while at the same time meeting practical application and regulatory compliance.
Tough Dog puts safety first and undertake rigorous testing on all GVM program vehicles.
“The structural safety of an automobile’s suspension is crucial because it plays an important role in the vehicle’s safety, stability and handling performance,” Blake said.
“We undertake finite element analysis (FEA) to predict the structural performance of our suspension designs and to check the vehicle’s factory axles to ensure they can safely operate within the vehicles new GVM.”
Brake testing is carried out on all Tough Dog GVM vehicles, both laden and unladen, as well as testing under partial system failure to comply with the Australian Design Rule ADR35/00 which specifies braking requirements under normal and emergency conditions.
Tough Dog also puts the GVM vehicles with ESC fitted through electronic stability control (ESC) testing to ensure that the vehicle’s ESC system’s response is the same of or better than before.
ESC testing is used by all vehicle manufacturers and major component suppliers around the world to simulate vehicle dynamics for the development and testing of new chassis system components, engines, power trains, drivelines, suspension, and vehicle electronic control systems.
“Safety and regulatory compliance is at the core of our business, we put our products through the same testing programs required by all global vehicle manufacturers,” Blake said.
Rigorous product design
When it comes to testing, the knowledge acquired in the workshop is just as important as the real-world testing carried out as a part of every Tough Dog suspension product.
Tough Dog use the state-of-the-art Roehrig shock dynometer to obtain an exact measurement of the forces exerted on the overall system.
“We test our product designs in our workshops for suitability, longevity and heat resistance to give a complete picture of our suspension product’s capabilities,” Blake said.
“This workshop testing, coupled with real world testing on every road surface, helps us to remain at the cutting edge of 4WD suspension design.”
“Tough Dog Suspension is a recognised Second Stage Manufacturer (SSM) which allows us to develop and federally certify vehicle components and increase a vehicle’s GVM,” Blake said.
“We can maximise our client’s allowable vehicle payload without risking its roadworthiness.
“Each GVM vehicle is extensively tested to ensure legislated compliance is maintained.”
Tailored suspension packages
Tough Dog offers coil springs, leaf springs and complete strut assemblies.
“In most vehicles, we offer multiple shock and spring options to fine tune every aspect of a particular suspension package as well as a range of other specialised and optional accessories,” Blake said.
“The Return To Centre and the ‘SV’ adjustable steering damper are two great examples of the results of Tough Dog’s unique thinking when it comes to making the best off road suspension system available.
“The Tough Dog coil springs are Australian made from German X5K spring steel: our coils can be designed with less material while maintaining superior ride quality and load carrying characteristics.
“The result is a lighter, tougher coil that can handle just about anything you can throw at it. Our spring retains its original memory even after heavy loading.
“Not only is our light, tough coil design manufactured using computer-controlled systems, it is also designed for armoured vehicle applications.”
Tough Dog also offers leaf springs manufactured from flat bar steel with diamond cut ends which are truly progressive.
“The military wraps and rolled eyes are formed, before the springs are heated to around 1000ºC in a gas forge, and hot cambered to the required specifications,” Blake said.
“Each leaf of the spring is individually coated in primer and then coated in high grade sealer enamel.”
Complete strut assemblies
Assembling a strut unit prior to fitment to a vehicle is the most crucial part of any suspension fit out, and incorrect assembly can lead to premature suspension failure.
“Tough Dog offer their complete range of struts in complete assembly variants at no extra cost as part of their GVM package,” Blake said.
The toughest in town
Setting up a 4WD suspension system isn’t all about the added gains on the tape measure.
Setting up a vehicle’s suspension can be a mine-field of pitfalls, misinformation and wrong turns.
When it comes to kitting out a vehicle for the toughest environment on the planet, it certainly pays to speak to Tough Dog to find out how they can make you the toughest in town.
Tough Dog Suspension
P: +61 2 9672 8899