Trailer Talk

FlowBelow Shows Aero Device for Trailer Wheels

The Trailer AeroKit uses wheel covers plus fairings in front, between and behind the wheels, similar to a tractor AeroKit.

February 27, 2017

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Trailer AeroKit includes fairings ahead, between and behind the wheels on a trailer's tandem. Photos: FlowBelow Aero
Trailer AeroKit includes fairings ahead, between and behind the wheels on a trailer's tandem. Photos: FlowBelow Aero

Aerodynamic improvers by FlowBelow Aero are some of the more unusual products on the market, as they manage air flow around rolling wheels rather than truck or trailer bodies. The Texas-based company has just introduced a pair of new devices, one for tractors and another for trailers.  

They are the tractor-mounted AeroFender and the Trailer AeroKit, both being shown off this week at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s equipment expo during TMC’s annual meeting at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn. 

The Trailer AeroKit is the first aerodynamic product of its kind mounted directly to a trailer suspension, claimed Josh Butler, CEO and founder of FlowBelow Aero. The Trailer AeroKit uses wheel covers plus fairings in front, between and behind the wheels, similar to the AeroKit for tractors. 

The wheel covers and fairings smooth the complex airflow around the trailer wheels and suspension. It complements other trailer aerodynamic devices such as trailer skirts and tails.  

"FlowBelow’s engineering and product expertise is in managing the airflow around the underbody and the wheels of the vehicle," Butler said. "By expanding our line of products to the trailer, we will be able to build on the proven performance of the Tractor AeroKit and offer significant fuel-savings opportunities for fleets. 

“The new Trailer AeroKit will be the first complete system to addresses the aerodynamic drag around the entire rear-wheel area of the trailer while maintaining easy access to the wheels." 

The AeroFender is a replacement for non-aerodynamic quarter fenders on tractors. The device installs in front of the drive wheels of single-axle or forward-most axle of a tandem. It helps to direct air flow past the drive wheels, said Butler.  

AeroFender is the fairing just ahead of this tandem. The center and rear pieces are enhanced versions of those on the company's original Tractor AeroKit.  
AeroFender is the fairing just ahead of this tandem. The center and rear pieces are enhanced versions of those on the company's original Tractor AeroKit.

The AeroFender may be used alone, but a higher total fuel savings can be realized when used in combination with wheel covers and additional fairings around the tractor’s wheels. 

The fiberglass products together will add less than 10 pounds to the weight of the truck. Butler said that no fuel savings numbers are ready to be published, but early tests are showing savings similar or better than the current Tractor AeroKit. 

A manager at Swift Transportation, one of the big fleets adopting tractor AeroKits on its tractors, said it saves “a solid 1.5%,” while FlowBelow claims other fleets are getting 2% or more. 

"We have obviously done some testing, but we are still working with the engineers and have not yet documented final drag reduction numbers," Butler said. 

Installation for the AeroFender can be done in 20 minutes or less, he claimed, while installation of the Trailer AeroKit will take under 90 minutes. More information is at www.flowbelow.com.

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Author Bio

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Tom Berg

Senior Contributing Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.

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