Coming in for a Landing

We are waiting on EPA and NHTSA to issue the proposed rules for Phase II of truck freight efficiency (read that fuel consumption) and greenhouse gas emissions.  Most expect it will have something to say about trailers.  Since the SmartWay program for trailers began as a voluntary program and California made it a requirement for all trailers in that state, it is a safe bet to say the new rule could make the SmartWay trailer a requirement nationwide.  

If you look at the trailer side skirts that have gone into production, most bend inward at the landing gear of the trailer.  Part of this is for aerodynamic reasons; part is for access to the crank for the landing gear.  However, if you look at the SuperTruck program, you will see longer side skirts on the trailer.  So, how are you going to access the trailer landing gear and its crank?  

Earlier this year, while at TMC and sitting in on the Future Truck task force for trailers, I suggested this is an area ripe for change.  I don’t know much about how much it costs to maintain the landing gear, or how often they get replaced.  I don’t know how many accidents occur from cranking the landing or how many people get hurt.  But, I have seen a couple of automated solutions to this item.

A quick Google search turns up a handful of companies offering solutions, as well as a 21 year old patent on a pneumatic system for the automatic operation of semi-trailer landing gear.  This morning I talked with Prime Transport Solutions out of Ireland; they have several well known fleets trying out their product, as is the normal process here.  So, I think it’s safe to say this is a new product area that will grow in penetration for both new and retrofit trailers in the next 5-10 years — it’s definitely coming in for a landing.

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