Give my wife a space and she will find someway to fill it up. (I got her permission to reveal this.) What’s that got to do with trucking? Last post was about the expectation that EPA/NHTSA would require trailers to be regulated. Last Friday they issued the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Sure enough, it includes regulating trailers as early as model year 2018. So, we can expect trailers to have low rolling resistance tires and some combination of pressure monitoring or control, front fairings, side fairings, boat tails and under belly fairings.
As I drive along the highway and look closely at trailers, I find myself astonished at the unused space underneath most dry van trailers. There are some drop frame van trailers, but I don’t see many of them on the road. If we have to put side fairings onto a trailer, why not do something more and make it storage for something? Flatbeds often have tool boxes for tarps or chains. Why not do something like that with dry van trailers? Recreational vehicles and buses have large storage areas between the wheels. They can even carry All Terrain Vehicles with simple pullouts in this area. Imagine a truck driver being able to haul a motorcycle in the storage area on a dedicated trailer? Moving vans always make use of this space and are capable of being loaded from the middle as well as the back of the trailer.
You’ll say this adds weight and we cannot afford that. I’m not so sure. I’ve seen quite a bit of data from Weigh In Motion scales around the country that suggests trailers are still cubing out more often than weighing out. Even with the work done to improve cargo space (create thinner walls, stronger floors, multiple stacks and concentrated liquids and better packaging), it seems there is some freight space going unused.
The point is, let’s get innovative and find some great ways to meet these proposed regulations and improve freight efficiency. One of my better employees was a guy at Eaton who thought in terms that every part had to serve 2 or more purposes. Let’s not just add a fairing—let’s make it do double or triple duty.