Vocational Truck & Trailer

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July Theme: Vocational Trailers

Trailer Market Robust Amid Innovation & Tight Regulatory Standards

By Marek Krasuski

The trailer market has shown promising growth recently with sales totalling over 330,000 units over the past 12 months. According to FTR strong freight growth and high trailer capacity rates call for more trailers to relieve the capacity shortage. Good news to be sure for manufacturers and providers with healthy numbers predicted for all trailer types, so much so that some orders are already in for 2019 purchases. As discussed in previous issues of this magazine aerodynamic drag accounts for a significant portion of fuel consumption at both urban and highway speeds. This is due in part to the air speed that collects at the rear of the trailer. If air speed reaching the trailer doors doubles, then base pressure drag increases almost four fold. A 20 percent reduction in aerodynamic drag yields a 6 percent improvement in fuel economy in a rig traveling at 30 mph and even better mileage as speed increases. Fuel economy stands alongside other compelling incentives, not least of which is pressure from large shippers to achieve greater efficiencies to reduce drag and improve trailer performance. Trailer builders face considerable challenges in their efforts to please customers who call for better and more efficient trailers. There are strict regulations dictating dimensions and cargo capacity, and many rely on the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA) to assist with approvals. The Association helps members understand and comply with legislated requirements, e.g. vehicle weights and dimensions, the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and many other compliance issues. The CTEA provides NSM and Pre-clearance application review services to its members. These services use the application guidelines provided by Transport Canada, but most important is that CTEA has developed a set format that Transport Canada has come to recognize and accept, making it easier for them to review the application file for accuracy and completeness. Arguably – and a surprise to some – is the ongoing driver shortage. Fewer drivers means a greater push to enhance loading capacity of existing trailers are on the road. And with demands to have drivers at home on a more regular basis fleets are running trailers with increased duty cycles, resulting in accelerated wear and tear. Consequently, the push is on for lighter trailers that can withstand tougher duty cycles. While making way for additional capacity, lighter trailers can reduce fuel consumption when empty or partially loaded. But using the right materials is crucial. New composite materials are being used, but these must meet strict standards while maintaining cost effectiveness and be practical to repair and maintain. Efforts to achieve lighter trailers include incorporating new structural materials, less material construction in floors, and increasing cross member size. Trailer builders are always on the lookout for higher tensile steel that will provide lighter and stronger trailers. Also, on the forefront is a suitable replacement for oak floor decking, possibly a composite product. Diminishing supplies of oak are pushing up prices and quality is falling. A possible replacement is a laminate type product. Of equal importance to the industry is the manufacture of environmentally “green” products. Titan Trailer, based in Delhi, Ontario, is known for its THINWALL construction. According to the company, “only THINWALL offers the proven strength of double-welded, double-walled aluminum. Titan’s exclusive patented processes and original designs produce today’s most advanced smooth side trailer body for long life and efficient performance.” The THINWALL pane, Titan continues, is a hollow-core extrusion that achieves high strength with light weight similar to the way that corrugation turns paper into a high-strength board. The inner wall is thicker than the outer wall to absorb load impacts and to prevent interior damage from penetrating to the outside. The aluminum web between the walls is integral to the extrusion, with no mechanical joining. Energy savings are accrued, as well, with the In-Floor Heating system with energy efficiency improvement up to 30 percent compared to traditional alternatives. Titan explains: “In old-style systems much of the heat from ceiling-mounted heaters was wasted as the hot air collected up at the ceiling. The in-floor heating system maintains even heat from the floor to ceiling, with no waste. Precise temperature controls with integrated floor sensors deliver quick and constant heat recovery. The result is greater comfort for employees with reduced energy consumption.” Another leading North American trailer builder is Wabash National, a company that claims to be a leader in aerodynamics excellence with 10-year coverage on all skirt and nose fairing options and 5 year coverage on tails. Wabash claims that drag points are minimized with its drag reduction system, and Aeroskirts deliver fuel economy because of high performance Duraplate construction and flexible, lightweight design. Closer to home, Bedard Tankers is a Montreal based company specializing in liquid, dry bulk, liquefied gases and cryogenic tanker trailers. Bedard has added several new models to its inventory. Included is the new “Bullet” Aluminum Sparger type Tanker Trailer designed for transporting Sodium Chloride. Features include Intraax suspensions, three unloading points – back and both sides – a catwalk and railing. The “Bullet” design has expanded its B-Train with an aerodynamic design with a lower centre of gravity. The 2,200 cu. ft. aluminum Super B-Train is used for lime, cement and related products. The TC 406 addition, meanwhile, is a 46,000-litre aluminum semi trailer with a tridem heavy duty air suspension which is equipped with two baffles and collapsible handrail. More information is available at www.bedard.com. The British Columbia based Magnum Trailer is a Canadian company that supplies trailers for specialized use in multiple applications. As an example, Forestry Trailers feature several types, among them the Four Axle B Train with Tubular cross-members to prevent frame cracking, Hayrack Trailers with cross-members to prevent frame cracking, Quad Loggers with axles fitted with slings to prevent over extension of shocks, and Tri-Axle Loggers. Magnum also supplies Highway Trailers, Live Haul, Oil & Gas, and Terminal Trailers. The company website, www.magnumtrailer.com, highlights the full suite of trailer choices. In the GTA area Select Trailer Sales in Mississauga supplies new Stoughton & Wilson trailers. Grain trailers, flats, containers and furniture vans are available. Select Trailer Sales also deals in the sale and trade of used trailers. The company carries brand name parts from companies such as Haldex, Meritor, STEMCO, Hendrickson and others. Kudos goes to the innovative companies on the industrial transportation landscape that develops new trailer designs and introduces improvements to existing models. And to be sure, attention to fuel savings by reducing drag, improvements to trailer design and manufacture, and compliance with regulations are critical for navigating the sea changes of the trailer market.

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