Double-decking systems have helped fleets increase the cargo density of their trailers for years. Doleco USA says its ConnectedDeck System takes those to a new level and addresses pain points fleets have with decking systems.
The new system is based on the design of Doleco’s Level Deck Self-Leveling Decking Beam and LayerLok XP Track. Fitted with an ultralightweight, composite decking platform, the ConnectedDeck design allows workers to quickly and easily deploy and adjust an entirely decked, ready-to-load, two- or three-beamed cargo platform within seconds.
The product was unveiled during the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance council annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
The patented ConnectedDeck merges two or three adjustable, self-leveling decking beams with a formed composite panel that creates an integrated cargo platform that is easily adjustable, stores at ceiling height and never has to be disassembled and reassembled.
“We have taken decking platforms to a whole new level with this product,” said Ralph Abato, president and managing director of Doleco USA, during a press conference. “The system requires no special, system-specific tools. A simple dock hook or fifth wheel pin-puller is all a worker needs. The decks are easily adjusted by hand and stores at ceiling height, and it never has be to disassembled or stored.”
With no system-specific tool needed, it eliminates the problem of missing or misplaced beam release tools. After one side of the ConnectedDeck is unlocked with a single pull, the entire spring-assisted, self-leveling platform is freed and can easily be manipulated by hand, moved to its desired height and locked into position.
A Better Mousetrap
Doleco’s decking system is the brainchild of Steve Downing, who, after working for both truckload and less-than-truckload fleets and evaluating decking and securement methods, decided that it could be done better.
A survey of real-world trailer environments, coupled with time studies of conditions, usage and operational efficiency, showed that there was significant room for systemic and procedural improvements — and that even minor beam and track damage can cause major problems, according to Doleco officials.
The ConnectedDeck System’s integrated platform, operating on its patented LayerLok XP Track, addressed those issues.
By consolidating three lightweight spring-assisted beams with an engineered composite panel, an unloaded ConnectedDeck can be positioned by hand in 13 seconds. The entire unit requires less than 10 pounds of force to pull down and can lift itself, unassisted, back to its ceiling storage position. Unlike other captive decking systems, its beams won’t inadvertently fall, according to Doleco.
“No longer will dock workers have to search for special release tools, spend time adjusting single beams one side at a time, or have to exit the trailer multiple times to retrieve heavy sheets of plywood or other decking material,” said Steve Downing, product manager of Deck Systems for Doleco USA. “ConnectedDeck is easier, faster and 95% more time effective than any other decking system. By creating an easy-to-access, easily manipulated, complete cargo platform, the ConnectedDeck System eliminates the time-wasting steps associated with earlier captive decking solutions — this is truly a transformative technological advancement.”
Common track and beam damage also figured into the equation. The system’s Level Deck beams and robust foot assemblies can withstand all but the most severe forklift strikes, and its locking mechanism is designed to prevent upward adjustments by forklifts. The system’s LayerLok XP track can be traditionally installed with rivets or with an adhesive.
Doleco’s Adhesive Advantage
Because other captive decking systems rely exclusively on rivets to secure their vertical tracks to trailer walls, they begin with an inherent weakness, contends Doleco. The regular up-and-down movement of beams, the mechanical action of trailers in motion, and even minor encounters with a forklift will cause rivet holes to deform, tracks to misalign and often to detach from trailer walls, causing beams to chafe or completely jam.
“LayerLok can be installed with a structural-grade adhesive, if a fleet desires,” Abato said. “These adhesives have been used in Europe for more than 15 years and have the kind of durability and performance that fleets need in terms of durability.”
Used widely in trailer body construction, among other heavy-duty industries, these advanced adhesives provide Doleco’s tracks with three times the strength of riveted tracks, without penetrating and compromising trailer walls.
“Conservative calculations suggest that all things being equal, a fleet with 1,000 trailers will save $15.8 million per year by simply converting to Doleco’s ConnectedDeck System,” Abato said. “Time is a critical factor for [less-than-truckload] carriers in particular, so bad weather, freight volume fluctuations and manpower variations can mean trouble. Time savings of this magnitude can make a fleet more resilient to those other variables, and since the majority of LTL fleets already use some form of captive decking system, the cost of such a system is already baked into their economic cake.”
Doleco is a manufacturer of lifting, sling and load-securing technologies, including the DoNova PowerLash Textile Lashing Chain, PowerLift Textile Chain Sling, LayerLok Double-Decking System and Level Deck Self-Leveling Decking Beam.