Everyone who sells a product talks up its advantages over the competition. Jim Reiman's claims about his Aerofficient side skirts include some that I've not heard before: 1 million-mile life, and ability to close the gap ahead of the trailer's wheels.
"We use three very high quality materials in our fairings: stainless steel; aluminum, and engineered TPO plastic," Reiman said in an e-mail message (though I've talked with him face-to-face at industry meetings). "Each of these materials have been used in the transportation industry for years and their properties and lives are well known and proven.
"The design life of our products is 10 years/1 million miles and we've proven out our design through comprehensive finite-element analyses as well as 'torture' tests by leading independent testing and validation service firms."
That means a set of Aerofficient fairings could conceivably move from one trailer to its replacement, and maybe move again to a third trailer.
The corrosion-resistant metals are used for the attaching clamps and fasteners, and the hinges that separate the fairings into two sections. The horizontal hinges allow the bottom half of each panel to swing 90 degrees inward or outward if it encounters an obstacle. It will flex over an object as tall as 24 inches -- a curb, a loaded pallet, a snow or ice bank, whatever -- without bending or breaking.
"If it's 24 inches or less, I'll pay" for the damage, Reiman says. "If it's more than 24 inches, you pay."
As to the gap, most skirts leave an open space 35 or more inches long when the tandem is slid rearward, Reiman notes. At a "max back" setting on a 53-foot trailer, the gap can be as long as 107 inches. Side winds move in and collide with the tandem's wheels, axles, brake parts, etc. And head-on wind can be sucked in, with similar results. This causes drag.
Aerofficient fairings can be equipped with a rear panel that slides up or back with the trailer's tandem. This closes that gap and prevents air from reaching the tandem. Tests show the reduced drag makes this product several percent better in fuel saving performance, Reiman claims.
A feature up front is a landing gear "wrap-around," which pushes air around this sharp-edged structure which most competitors leave bare, he says. On reefer trailers, the wrap also shields the fuel tank, further reducing air drag.
The fairings are easy to mount, usually taking one to two hours per set. The injection-molded plastic panels can be any color the customer wants. They're competitive in weight. And a set of two fairings costs $900 to $1,800, depending on options and volume in one order.
Aerofficient fairings are made in Livonia, Mich., by an experienced automotive parts supplier, says Reiman, who himself operates out of Lincolnshire, Ill. His toll-free number is 855-237-6669 (855-AERO NOW) and his website is www.aerofficient.com.