British trailer-maker Don-Bur said the Smart trailer that took pride of place on its stand at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the end of April was quite possibly the biggest and safest on British roads.
The 60-pallet LST (longer semi-trailer) was one of 25 such trailers being built for Argos, and the biggest possible allowed within the current legislation.
At 4.88m high, 15.65m long and incorporating a low height, step-frame chassis, it had a volume of 145.5m3 – 16 per cent bigger than its standard length (13.6m) counterpart. With efficient fill ratios, this trailer could reduce journeys by two legs in every 13.
The tri-axle Blade panel box van is fitted with a ¾ length 10T capacity Lifting Deck, fabricated to provide 2.42m across its width which provides the facility to load two UK pallets with their longest length across the width. The deck is powered by Don-Bur’s original design single-ram-and-pulley system.
Exclusive to Don-Bur, the Blade composite panels are just 7.5mm thick and weigh just 11.8kgs per m². The recyclable panel consists of an HDPE (high density polyethylene) foam core and is faced with 0.5mm 80,000 psi yield galvanised steel. Finished with a baked-on polyester coating, the result is a lightweight panel that doesn’t delaminate and has exceptional protection against impact, abrasion, puncture and corrosion.
The lifting deck is complemented by an additional fixed second deck fitted over the swan-neck area to provide the full 60 UK pallet capacity. By lowering floor height with 445/45 R19.5 wheels and minimising the thickness of decks, a generous aperture of 1.87m (6′ 1 ½”) high has been achieved on both decks which provides ample head room when loading or unloading.
The running gear comprises two bogies including a fixed 18T tandem set and a self-steer rear 10T axle set further back to avoid bogie overload.
Richard Owens, group marketing manager at the Stoke-on-Trent manufacturer, said the factory had been inspired to produce the trailer after an operator complained of a spate of bridge strikes, which appeared to have been caused by the trailer exceeding its stated height because it was travelling with its suspension fully-extended. This had raised the height of the rear of the double-deck trailers to the extent that they struck the bridge after the vehicle had passed half-way through.
Initially, some kind of fault with the suspension had been suspected, but examination of data logged by the trailer’s electronics revealed a more surprising cause.
Drivers had not been connecting the EBS/ABS line correctly when coupling up. It had either not been connected at all, or the trailer end of the line had been left in the holding socket on the tractor, while the end which should have been in the output socket on the tractor was connected to the trailer!
Besides controlling the ABS on the trailer’s axles, the line is also vital for a number of other functions including ride height and stability control, hence the bridge strikes. Driving without connecting the line is an offence, but the only indication that it is not connected is a warning light on the truck’s dashboard, and older models may not even have this.
The Don-Bur solution is a large warning light positioned where it can be seen in the driver’s mirrors on the trailer’s front bulkhead, backed by a 90 dbA siren which will sound if the trailer’s air and electrical lines are connected, but the ABS line is not.
Other innovations shown by Don-Bur included Leg-Safe, which sounds a warning and illuminates a sign if lines are unplugged before the trailer landing legs are lowered, or if the lines are connected with the legs still lowered when a trailer is picked up; and a View-Safe system which combines overhead images from four cameras to give the driver a single screen vision of the vehicle’s surroundings.
A Turn-Safe system detects obstructions alongside the trailer and sounds both an external warning and one inside the truck’s cab – while Reverse-Safe provides a visual cue for the driver to see how close the trailer is to an object, and a mechanical brake interlock that activates automatically if the rear of the trailer gets too close.
Meanwhile, French fridge-trailer specialist Chereau displayed its award-winning NEXT (New EXperience Trailer) for the first time in the UK. This takes advantage of multiplex wiring to link tractor and trailer in a way said to minimise risk to drivers, loaders and the load itself.
Initially compatible with Scania, Volvo and Renault tractor units (the most popular makes with Chereau customers), NEXT allows information direct from the fridge unit, door and tail-lift, and trailer EBS system to all be communicated directly to the truck driver via a dash display. More makes are to follow, with Iveco next on the list.
Other fail-safe features are provided: for instance, the trailer will apply its brakes independently of the parking brake if an attempt is made to drive away while the trailer is plugged into an external power source.
The trailer’s Smart-C roller-shutter door, which opens over the roof, is synchronised with the LED interior lighting. Opening the shutter also cuts the fridge unit to save energy and activates the AirShutter-C air curtain to maintain interior temperature. Shutter operation can be simultaneous with tail-lift deployment. When the shutter is closing, the trailer’s interior lights are flashed.
All trailer operations can be controlled from within by a corded remote-control. Besides covering the fridge unit and compartment temperature, this also controls interior lighting, shutter, air-curtain, tail-lift and trailer suspension. It can also lock the trailer brakes to prevent drive-aways.
The trailer is provided with a single telematics socket, said to be compatible with any telematics system, on a plug-and-play basis.
Elsewhere, German manufacturer Kögel displayed its new Cargo semi-trailer. It features curtainsides and an opening roof awning with integrated load restraints, but requires no post supports when the curtains are open.
The floor can bear forklifts with axle weights of up to 7.2 tonnes, but the trailer itself weighs as little as 6,000 kg, depending upon equipment.
Additional load security is provided by 13 pairs of lashing rings, each capable of withstanding up to 4,000 kg of tensile force, according to specification. An optional non-slip coating for the plywood floorboards can reduce the number of lashings required to secure some loads.
The trailer’s frame has been given nano-ceramic and cathodic dip-paint protection against corrosion.
Kögel’s in-house KTA trailer axle was also on display at the CV Show.
Available on Kögel trailers since April, the axle features a tube secured from above by the suspension trailing arm, and from below by the spring seats.
Key dimensions of the axle support, trailing arm and tube have been determined by finite element analysis, with the tube being forged from a single piece of steel. Both the trailing arm and the axle tube can be replaced separately if required.
The trailing arm is secured by a rubber/metal bearing that absorbs axial and transverse forces at the interface with the chassis bracket: springing is provided by both the rubber bearing and the properties of the sprung-steel trailing arm, in addition to the airbags and shock absorbers.
Brake pads and discs can be changed without using special tools or disturbing the bearing settings.