New trailers for changing markets

May 1, 2009
Regulations have always been major considerations when designing trailers, and recessions always seem to lead established trailer manufacturers to venture

Regulations have always been major considerations when designing trailers, and recessions always seem to lead established trailer manufacturers to venture into new market segments. A walk around this year's MATS revealed examples of both new models that comply with new regulations, and trailers that take their manufacturers into markets where they have never been before. Here are some of the show's trailer highlights:

Utility Trailer

Utility Trailer has added a composite trailer to its lineup and addressed two new CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulations.

With the new trailer, a foam core has been added to the sidewall of its 4000D-X dry freight van. The 3/8" core of polyurethane foam structurally bonds the interior lining panel to the outside skin panels.

This 0.019" 80,000-psi yield strength galvanized steel interior lining panel is also squeeze-riveted to the outer skin and the side posts on 24" centers to form the Snag Free wall system. There are vertical logistic posts on 24" centers.

The result is the 4000D-X Composite, intended to compete with the composite plate design that tends to be heavier because of a polyethylene core sidewall.

The new design also includes a 27" integrated threshold plate. The interior sidewall panel has a full-length, one-piece 12" galvanized steel wearband for impact protection. Interior width is 101". An option is a core bonding foam ¾" thick, producing an inside load width of 100".

The new trailer has roofbow protection using a full-width ceiling sheet of 0.040" Versitex from US Liner, thus adding some dead air space below the 0.075" translucent Kemlite ETR roof panel.

With a “lifetime” stainless steel rear frame and riveted sidewall panels, the new design is both durable and easily repaired using standard industry repair and maintenance practices, said Craig Bennett, executive vice-president of sales and marketing.

“Grocery fleets tend to like this design,” he said.

Utility factories started producing the 2010 model-year 4000D-X Composite trailer in January.

The company announced that it has addressed CARB regulations, due to be implemented over the next 12 months, which affect trailer equipment spec requirements and values.

One of the regulations is the Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) Airborne Toxic Control Measure that goes into effect July 17, 2009. It requires all trailers that operate in California, use refrigeration units, and are more than seven years old to be modified or replaced to reduce diesel particulate matter emissions. Depending on the model year of the reefer unit, the manufacturer, and the model year of the engine, it may be possible to modify a non-compliant refrigeration unit to meet the new regulation.

The second regulation is the CARB Heavy Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Measure. It requires fleets operating 53' dry vans and reefers in California to use either US EPA-certified SmartWay trailers, or trailers equipped with aerodynamic devices that achieve 5% fuel savings for dry freight van trailers, and 4% fuel savings for reefer trailers.

Either approach will also require the use of low rolling resistance tires (either singles or duals), and the addition of EPA-approved aerodynamic devices.

This regulation applies to all new 2011 and later model year 53' dry and reefer van trailer purchases.

“Now that California has raised the bar on both particulate emissions from diesel refrigeration units and greenhouse gas emissions from tractor fuel usage while pulling 53' trailers, other states may soon follow suit,” said Bennett. “To help fleets comply with the new California regulations, we recently have made available additional options for EPA-approved low-rolling resistance tires, as well as aerodynamic devices.”

Hyundai Translead

After making the first redesign of its refrigerated trailer line in 16 years, Hyundai Translead brought to MATS the first reefer off the production line. The revamped ThermoTech TL (for Truck Load) trailer provides a weight reduction of 550 lb for the 53' insulated trailer.

A new aluminum crossmember for the bay area is 5“, with a thinner web and reworked flanges. It is 7% stronger and has a higher strength-to-weight ratio. At the front, a carbon steel lip is used in lieu of steel pick-up plate.

The redesigned aluminum duct flooring increases airflow through the trailer and is lighter in weight. The new scuffliner locks in the edge of the wall liner, and both are bonded in place, thus eliminating 208 screws from the trailer sidewalls.

Chinese reefer

On exhibit was a new refrigerated trailer, engineered and manufactured in China. It is the prototype of a new line of reefers manufactured by CIMC (China International Marine Container), the largest manufacturer of refrigerated intermodal containers in the world.

The 53' refrigerated trailer was transported aboard a container ship to Long Beach, California, where it was fitted with landing gear, running gear, and Thermo King refrigeration unit. That will be the case when the first CIMC reefers for fleet sales are delivered in June.

By October, CIMC plans to be shipping insulated sidewalls, roof, floor, doors, and front end instead of the complete insulated box. Final assembly will be in the Vanguard National Trailer plant in Monon, Indiana. Sales will be handled by CIMC master dealers, Direct Chassis dealers, and Vanguard National Trailer dealers.

Vanguard National Trailer is 100% owned by CIMC, and Direct Chassis is 60% owned by CIMC. Direct Trailer sells flatbed and drop-deck trailers produced by Direct Chassis using components supplied by CIMC.

Vanguard National Trailer has built more than 26,000 dry freight van trailers since its purchase by CIMC in 2003, and now has a 6% market share of dry freight vans, said Vanguard's president Charlie Mudd. The company also builds converter dollies.

Direct Chassis was founded by John Nelson in 2004 to remanufacture container chassis. He formed a strategic relationship with CIMC for manufacture of replacement chassis frames in China, as well as domestic containers and platform trailer frames.

In the past four years, CIMC and Direct Chassis have built some 25,000 domestic containers and 30,000 domestic container chassis for the J B Hunt fleet alone.

CIMC and Direct Chassis jointly introduced the new refrigerated trailer, the CIMC R8000. It has been engineered to meet all DOT regulations in the USA.

Specs include two-piece, heavy-duty top rail, l.13" extruded J-posts and roofbows, 0.040 pre-painted aluminum side sheets with corrugations, Kemlite 0.075-inch interior lining and 0.040-inch on ceiling, and 1.25-inch extruded aluminum duct floor with knurled surface. The rear frame is formed stainless steel.

The trailer has rivetless door panels and five hinges per door. The floor carries a 16,000-lb rating.

Also exhibited by CIMC was a food-grade stainless steel tank trailer built in Belgium by Burg Industries, a company owned 80% by CIMC. While such a tank trailer is not legal on US highways, David Li, deputy general manager of CIMC Vehicles Group and president of CIMC USA, said that CIMC plans eventually to get into the North American tank truck market with tanks of European design, Chinese manufacture, and US assembly.

Aerodynamic devices

Advanced Transport Dynamics (ATDynamics) reported on the results of testing the various fuel efficiency devices.

Freight Wing Belly Fairing by Transtex Composite side skirts demonstrated a 7.4% fuel efficiency improvement at 62 mph, based on SAE J1321 testing validated by the EPA SmartWay program. ATDynamics' rear-mounted TrailerTail improved fuel efficiency by 5.1% at 62 mph in the SAE testing.

Michelin X-one tires showed a 9.7% fuel efficiency gain.

The side skirts were also tested to find the best of three configurations — a long panel mounted straight, or mounted at a slight angle, or a short panel at an extreme obtuse angle in front of the trailer tandem.

Top performance came from the long panel mounted at a slight five-degree angle to the longitudinal axis of the trailer. Actual dimensions were a 22.5' long panel, 35.5" wide, mounted 7" above the road surface. The forward end of the panel was tucked in behind the landing gear supports, 20" from the edge of the van.

This angled mounting achieved a 7.45% fuel efficiency gain. The same type panel mounted straight or parallel with the long axis of the trailer showed only a 3.9% fuel efficiency gain.

The poorest improvement was by the short panel mounted at an obtuse angle ahead of the tandem axles, showing only a 1.85% fuel efficiency improvement.

Mounting the side skirts low with only seven inches road clearance could mean lots of road damage to the skirts. However, ATDynamics claims the flexible thermoplastic materiel is extremely resilient and will spring back into shape following an impact.

The long panels are hung from the trailer floor crossmembers using continuous steel hinges and thermoplastic bracing. A set of skirts weighs 175 pounds and requires two workers three hours to install.

ATDynamics also announced a new product, the SuperSpare tire mount. It allows a wide-base single tire to be carried on either the tractor or the trailer, even with side skirts.

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