Freighter has given a glimpse of the future at the Brisbane Truck Show, with an Australian-first aerodynamic concept trailer, aptly named the Freighter ‘AeroLiner®’. The trailer features a number of aerodynamic components. Based on the Company’s patented ‘EziLiner’ trailer with efficient buckle-less curtains, it also features side skirts, a sloping roof, automated tyre inflation and the first boat tail approved for trial on Australian roads.
Stuart McMurtrie, MaxiTRANS Group Marketing Manager, says the boat tail in particular is a ground-breaking development. “We have worked closely with state regulators to gain approval to operate an on-road evaluation trial on a boat tail device in Australia. Boat tails are already in operation in the US and Europe, however different operating conditions in Australia have meant that it hasn’t been possible to introduce them here until now.”
“Following an extensive review of available boat tail devices, we settled on the AT Dynamics’ ‘Trailer Tail’, a market leader in this field. Freighter has gained transport authority approval to coordinate a trial with the AT Dynamics product in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, with up to 15 combinations set to hit the road in the coming months to begin gathering data. We’re excited to be leading the charge in introducing this important development in transport sustainability.”
McMurtrie says the trial will last for one year, however he already has high expectations for the results. “US trials have shown fuel savings of between 5 and 7 percent when using the ‘Trailer Tail’. There is probably no reason why we shouldn’t see a similar result here in Australia, but there are some unknowns such as how it will work with B-Doubles – hence the field testing.”
While McMurtrie says that Freighter and Maxi-CUBE have been fitting aerodynamic side skirts for some time now, the skirts on display have several useful features including lift-up panels for easy access to the spare tyre and also compliance with under-run protection requirements. “Their lightness in weight and strength is a result of the use of honeycomb reinforced MaxiLITE panels made in Melbourne by MaxiTRANS,” he said. “Being flat and modular, they are easily repaired or replaced if damaged.”
The other eye-catching feature of the Freighter AeroLiner on display in Brisbane is the sloping roof. The front quarter of the roof of the trailer has a moderate gradient, lowering the leading edge of the roof by 240mm, which McMurtrie says is intended to line up with the adjoining prime mover’s “air scoop” in order to reduce drag from airflow buffeting the front of the trailer.
“The sloping roof has a great deal of potential as an aerodynamic measure,” he claimed. “UK tests have shown potential fuel savings of around 7% on this feature, resulting in probable payback of less than a year when used predominantly on line-haul applications.”
“Freighter engineers will be undertaking tests on the sloping roof in the coming months and we hope to confirm these figures.”
The AeroLiner also featured an automated Meritor tyre inflation system. Quoting the Australian Government Energy Efficiency Exchange web site, McMurtrie said “maintaining correct tyre pressures has the potential to provide fuel savings of 1-4%, while increasing tyre life by up to 10%”.
McMurtrie is bullish about the chances of trailers such as the AeroLiner becoming a constant on Australian roads in the not-so-distant future. “Bearing in mind the rising cost of fuel, particularly with a 6.9 cents per litre reduction in the diesel fuel tax rebate next July, operators are already starting to look for ways to reduce their costs and offset this effective 6% increase. The AeroLiner on display at the Brisbane Truck Show could lead to important savings for operators in the near future.”