The new Hybrid TrailerSkirt, so called because it combines the performance of Laydon's LCL skirt with economical price and installation, is designed for van and reefer trailers. It's priced at about $1,150 per pair, compared to about $1,950 for the Classic skirts, and two men can install a pair on a typical 53-foot trailer in about an hour.
Laydon chose Crane Composites, said to be the industry's leading and oldest manufacturer of flat sheet composite panels for the trailer industry, to design a purpose-built panel specific for trailer aerodynamics. For mounting, Laydon designed an injection moulded and patent-pending "mono
clamp" and strut.
The design uses state of the art computer-aided modeling and finite element analysis to stress-test the design and the material in all temperatures, including extreme heat and cold. The new skirts are especially aimed at fleets which want performance without an upscale price, said Andy Acott, Laydon's sales manager.
"We've been listening to our customers and implementing what they want; inexpensive, easy and fast to install, lightweight, flexible enough to withstand everyday abuse and most importantly, fuel efficient," said Acott.
The injection-molded plastic mono clamp grabs onto a trailer's crossmembers to form mounting points for the skirt panels and supporting struts. Each clamp is secured with a single stainless steel bolt and locknut. A clamp is mounted to every fourth crossmember, Acott explained.
The patent-pending flexible spring strut is made from woven fiberglass, polypropylene where the fiberglass strands are orientated at Zero, 90 & 45 degrees. The material high stress during bending without failure, and is pre-tensioned for added strength. Laydon has cycled the flexible spring beyond the breaking point of other skirt supports from competitive manufacturers by over 20,000 cycles.
The skirt panels are designed to match the strut durability, while being light and able to move with the struts.
"Going in, we had an extremely long 'wish list' of what the side skirt panel must be capable of doing," said Acott. "Crane's engineering experts managed to 'tick all the boxes' and we're proud to offer a panel that not only is incredibly strong but will bend and move with the flexible spring. It also had to be lightweight, UV resistant and be the lowest cost per square foot in this industry.
"Crane not only brings 50 years of manufacturing experience but also offers incredibly fast delivery times -- usually in a few weeks unlike our competitors who can wait more than three months for material to be delivered."
The new product's design allows truckers to perform the installation themselves or have their local dealer install in about an hour, "the time it takes to have a cup of coffee," said Acott.
Demand for trailer skirting is rising sharply and Laydon predicts the trailer skirt retrofit business will be much larger than new trailer sales. Demand is spurred by California Air Resources Board rules that mandate trailer aerodynamics on all 2011 model-year 53-foot trailers, and sets a
phase-in period for older trailers.
Laydon Composites Ltd., formerly Airshield/Rudkin-Wiley , is a supplier to truck and trailer manufacturers, as well as to the aftermarket for add-on aerodynamic devices.