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  • Sheryll Mericido

Ford Ranger: Sliding Load Rack and Folding Roof Rack for easy carrying

The most adaptable Ford Ranger yet, the next generation is set to make carrying longer things much simpler. With Ford's innovative Sliding Load Rack and Folding Roof Rack, owners may load objects that extend the length of the roof and load box, like kayaks, doors, ladders, and bicycles. Flexible Rack System (FRS) is the name given to them collectively.

One person can operate the Sliding Load Rack, which a group of Ford Australia Special Vehicle Engineers developed in collaboration with JAC Products and has design patents pending. It slides into a C-shaped channel fixed to the top of the load box sidewalls and has five locking settings that allow for the safe support of objects of various lengths. To match the height of the folding roof racks, a pop-up crossbar raises the loading platform.

Crossbars on Ranger's ingenious folding roof racks can be moved into two positions and then stored within the roof rails when not in use.

Nik Tibhuvan, senior engineer, Special Vehicle Engineering, said: "The Flexible Rack System redefines how customers can use their Next-Gen Ranger and is just another example of Ford's ingenious design features on Next-Gen products." Both are readily operated by a single person and have undergone many of the same durability tests as the Ranger itself.

Built for Work, Family and Play

Ford spoke with pickup truck owners early on in the development of the Next-Gen Ranger to see how they used their vehicles. The team came to the conclusion that a feature like the FRS was necessary during these clinics.

"We discovered from our clients that they would load items like kayaks into the load box, rest them against the sports hoop, and then secure them with rope. The load box couldn't truly be used to store anything else a customer might wish to take with them because of this problematic situation, according to Danny Trentin, a Ford Ranger application specialist.

"We also heard about their annoyance with transporting objects with longer lengths. The Flexible Rack System avoids those annoyances with an 80-kilogram dynamic load limit, he claimed.

Designed to fit

According to Ford Ranger lead designer Max Tran, the sliding load rack had to appear to belong wherever it was placed because it is a piece that can be moved along the load box. Ford therefore developed a design that allowed it to fit within the vehicle's contour.

No matter where it was placed, the sliding load rack had to "belong" on the Ranger, according to Tran. It had to function, of course, but it also had to suit the Next-Gen Ranger's design, be easy to use, and be as quiet as possible when in use.

Engineered for purpose

The sliding load rack was designed by the team to be operated by one person swiftly and effortlessly and to be rock solid once deployed in one of the five designated locking places.

The sliding load rack can be unlocked on one side to release it on the other, enabling the hoop to move freely in the rails. Retractable stabilizers, retractable locks, and a set of four roller bearings inclined at a perfect 37 degrees allow for simple movement while unlocked but keep the sliding load rack from moving when it is locked in place.

The team designed the sliding load rack with a degree of compliance because the cabin and load box of a pickup truck move independently of one another. As a result, the static capacity is certified at up to 250 kilos, but the dynamic load limit is 80 kilos, and it applies both on and off-road.

Torture tested

The FRS needed to be reliable in addition to being simple to use and attractive. Tribhuvan retorted, "This meant torturing it like we did with Ranger."

To match the five distinct locking positions along the load box, the team created an 80-kg platform that could be modified in length. The FRS was then put through many of the same durability tests as the Ranger itself.

"Our infamous Silver Creek Road test track, which is so painful we deployed autonomous driving robots to finish this round of the testing, is used as part of our durability test. The FRS passed the test with flying colors after completing 77 runs on the track while under full load. Tribhuvan reported that it performed 400 runs with no load.

The sliding load rack also had fragile loads that were fastened to it. The system was then tested with various solid and delicate loads by driving the vehicle and the "fragile load" over rough and even terrain, twist ditches, and gutters.

The sliding load rack needed to be durable so that it could withstand anything the outdoors could throw at it, in addition to being robust. To simulate the grit and muck that owners will actually encounter, the system was tested using bulldust, red mud, salt, and water, according to Tribhuvan.

The sliding load rack was formerly covered with dirt and cycled more than 3500 times to simulate use for about ten years. Drainage holes in the track make it simple for owners to wash the channel with a garden hose, simplifying system maintenance.

On a few Ranger models in 2023, the Flexible Rack System, which is proprietary to Ford, will go on sale.

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