Trailer Talk

Strong, versatile van provides two-way haul for truckload fleet

November 21, 2011

Operations people at Nussbaum Transport had a couple of one-way hauls involving the same customer, and wanted to turn them into a more efficient and profitable headhaul and backhaul on the same semitrailer.

Steel coils are easily supported by the XD-35's strong floor and underframe. The Wabash National van can also carry other dry freight and protect all cargo from theft and inclement weather.

They did it with the help of engineers at Wabash National, who designed an extra-strong van trailer that does the work of a flatbed and a regular dry van.

Nussbaum, headquartered in Normal, Ill., has been running 30 pre-production versions of the vans for more than a year, supporting manufacturing at Electrolux in St. Cloud, Minn., according to Brent Nussbaum, the carrier's CEO. The vans take in heavy coiled steel and bring out major appliances, a low-density cargo.

Steel coils had formerly been hauled by flatbeds for which there was no outbound cargo. The appliances went inside regular vans that weren't always loaded when they were dispatched to St. Cloud.

Wabash is now taking the product to market as the DuraPlate XD-35, meaning extreme duty and 35,000 pounds, the van's concentrated load rating. The previous maximum such rating was 28,000 pounds, said Robert Lane, director of business development. Sides are of Wabash's DuraPlate composite metal skin-and-foam core material.

With DuraPlate XD-35s, metal coils and other heavy freight can be loaded and unloaded at the dock door, which enhances efficiency and safety on the dock, and eliminates delays due to crane availability and inclement weather. The enclosed trailer also saves time by removing the need to tarp and untarp. Additionally, the enclosed van protects cargo from damage and theft, reducing freight claims.

The XD-35's floor was tested to 37,000 pounds using a heavy forklift -- which itself weighed 20,000 pounds -- hauling a 15,000-pound aluminum coil, Lane said. The total measured weight was on one axle of the forklift. The trailer's gross-weight rating is 68,000 pounds with as much as 54,000 pounds distributed evenly throughout its 53-foot length. The builder claims the XD-35 is the strongest van trailer available.

Wabash's proprietary frame design, including crossmembers attached to the rails with steel bolts instead of rivets, is one reason for the trailer's strength. Crossmembers are also closely spaced, though Lane didn't want to divulge what the spacing is, and they are connected to the walls by the builder's HD aluminum base rails.

Other features include recessed D-rings to which securement straps can be attached and wall racks to hang the tie-downs when not in use.

Wabash and Nussbaum people went to St. Cloud to watch receiving and shipping procedures and confer with Electrolux's logistics managers, executives said. They worked many hours during the design process to get everything right.

Nussbaum believes the XD-35 has enhanced its competitiveness, and commissioned a video to tell its story. It's here: More information on the trailer is at