One thing has remained the same throughout my career,” remarks Howard Yurgevich. “Everyone keeps wanting trailers that are lighter weight, higher cube, more reliable and less expensive than the ones they have.
“What is probably different, though,” he continues, “is that trailer makers today spend more time listening to what the customer needs and will tailor a vehicle more closely than ever to their operation. And by looking directly at the customer, we become more innovative.”
Yurgevich notes he has been with Hyundai Translead, the San Diego-based trailer/container/chassis arm of Korea's Hyundai industrial powerhouse, since it began building on-highway trailers in its Tijuana, Mexico, plant for the North American market.
According to Yurgevich, what happens on the factory floor is crucial to quality. “We are very proud our plant has received ISO 9002 designation as well as Dept. of Defense approval to serve as a U.S. military supplier,” he points out. “A lot of customers don't believe what they see when they visit. We do a lot of things to make it easier for our workers to do their jobs better. These include furnishing transportation to and from work, a hot meal at lunch, on-site medical care, even a soccer field.”
While he believes it takes quality workers to produce quality trailers, Yurgevich doesn't discount engineering's crucial role. For example, on the durability front, a recent innovation he's excited about is the hot-dip galvanizing process Hyundai now uses as a standard practice for rear-frame components.
“This lets stainless steel become an option,” he explains. “Hot-dip galvanizing is less expensive than stainless steel but far more durable than painting rear-frame components. Hot-dipping them as an assembly will protect them from corrosion for 15 to 20 years.”
Yurgevich is very enthusiastic about a pair of innovative van trailers rolled out recently by Hyundai. The newest is an aluminum-plate model that boasts improvements aimed at reducing maintenance costs. “The design cuts the cost of replacing a damaged panel in half,” he points out. “It allows mixing and matching replacement panels of various thicknesses.”
As for why fleets would opt for more expensive aluminum trailers, Yurgevich contends that aluminum offers both durability and residual value. “Sometimes,” he remarks, “an old aluminum trailer is worth more just for its scrap value.”
When it comes to sheet-and-post vans, which Yurgevich calls “more conventional than plates,” he says Hyundai has been working hard to make them bigger on the inside, yet as durable as possible.
The latest iteration of this theme is Hyundai's HY-Cube 101, which delivers a 101-in. lining-to-lining inside width. Yurgevich explains this was achieved by reducing the depth of the trailer's 14-gauge logistics uprights to 0.45 of an inch.
“The development of shallower posts for the HY-Cube,” he relates, “allows us to provide greater width for more cube at a lower price, while the plastic lining reduces the potential for interior damage.”
As for one of today's most-pressing trailer issues — security — Yurgevich says Hyundai stands ready to assist its customers by installing electronic tracking devices provided by other suppliers as requested.
“We are also looking into making our doors more secure, as well as other, better ways of locking them more securely,” he advises. “A very security-conscious fleet might even consider a double-door system using hidden locks. But the biggest problem will remain the added cost of such security measures.”
Yurgevich figures what many fleets will want is a device that is “transferable among different vehicles so it will only be placed on the load that needs protecting.”
Name: Howard Yurgevich, vice president of engineering, Hyundai Translead, San Diego, CA.
Background: Yurgevich holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia. He began his 35-plus year career in trailer engineering with Strick and has also held engineering positions with other trailer makers. Yurgevich has also served in fleet management roles for both American President Lines and TIP. He joined Hyundai Translead as director of engineering in 1999 and was promoted to vp of engineering early last year.
Each month this column looks at emerging truck technology issues through the eyes of a leading engineer.