Truck bodies these days are more than just a box, and we've highlighted several recent developments in this article.

The low floor height of this Johnson body allows the delivery driver to easily reach into any of the body's multiple compartments.
The low floor height of this Johnson body allows the delivery driver to easily reach into any of the body's multiple compartments.

The need for higher fuel economy has driven development of streamlined bodies with lightweight materials that are also corrosion-resistant. To be sure, vans with traditional post-and-sheet construction still strongly dominate the market, but thanks to deals among suppliers, they can be had quicker and at lower cost.

Meanwhile, the trash must still be hauled away, and there's a venture in progress that will field "integrated" products.

Johnson delivers 'reach-in' reefer bodies

Johnson Refrigerated Truck Bodies has seen increasing demand from the home delivery and direct store delivery markets, says Mayo Rude, vice president of sales and marketing. The builder responded by updating its GuardianLT, an insulated "reach-in" body designed for those industries.

GuardianLT features a lightweight superstructure and strong fiberglass composite panel doors with an automatic locking mechanism. It also has advanced wall designs used by corporate parent Great Dane on Everest refrigerated trailers to enhance thermal efficiency. These wall designs include the in-situ, or in-place, panel foaming process for consistent insulation thickness.

Working from this base model, Johnson produces customized versions for home delivery and DSD customers. Among options are special temperature zone compartments to accommodate mixed loads of dry, fresh and/or frozen products, and aluminum tote racks and shelving to optimize cargo space and product organization. Low ground-to-inside floor height of the GuardianLT makes it quick, safe, and easy for operators to access the cargo area from the ground.

Direct store delivery customers use both mechanical refrigeration and Johnson's all-electric reefer systems, depending on temperature requirements and delivery needs. In both cases, superior thermal performance reduces energy requirements for temperature control, Rude says.

Johnson does a fair amount of customization. For example, custom-insulated Multi-Use truck body and Specialty Trailer shells are designed for the poultry industry to transport live chicks. These truck bodies and trailers feature the company's ArcticTherm interior fiberglass liner and sub floor for ease of cleaning and sanitation. Further specialization in heating, cooling, humidity and false floor installation complete the environmentally-controlled modules.

Navistar plans LoadStar-EZ Pack heavy trash trucks

Navistar International will offer integrated trash collection trucks using its upcoming LoadStar heavy low-cab-forward chassis and compaction bodies from EZ Pack. The involvement with EZ Pack will culminate in February with Navistar s purchase of the company, said Jim Rogers, EZ Pack's vice president of sales and marketing.

The two companies are cooperating closely on planning for the acquisition as well as production of integrated trash trucks. It will include efficient shipping of chassis from a Navistar plant to EZ Pack's facility near Lexington, Ky, for installation of packer bodies.

Navistar s Diamond Logic electrical system will make for easy joining of the chassis to the body through a single sealed and locking plug. With multiplexing, body functions can be tied into the trucks' wiring, switches and controls, and functions can be programmed to work based on driver input and what the trucks are doing, Rogers said.

EZ Pack's rear-, side- and top-loading bodies will be available in the integrated program. Even after the Navistar acquisition, EZ Pack will continue to sell bodies for installation on other chassis, he said.

The Loadstar, announced earlier this year, will go into production next July.

Isuzu-Utilimaster walk-in van made for repairability

Over the years there have been many high-cube walk-in vans made for efficient multi-stop pick-up and delivery service. But the Reach van from Isuzu Commercial Truck and Utilimaster is the first one we know of that's designed to shrug off dings and whose vertical panels can be quickly replaced if they are damaged.

Engineers have employed impact-resistant urethane panels at the body's rear and along the lower portions of its sides. There are energy-absorbing side bumpers and a rear spring bumper. If damaged, all body panels can be quickly removed and replaced so the vehicle can be restored to its original condition and get back to work fast, says John Marshall, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Utilimaster.

The body and unitized cab are quiet and fuel-efficient, thanks to aerodynamics said to be 11% better than comparable vans. The company says "applied ergonomics" result in better driver safety and productivity, and the design of its cargo area improves utility.

Stand-up room and a wide aisle are standard. Options include sliding or swing-type side doors; several types of rear doors; a keyless auto-opening bulkhead door; and an integrated back-up camera. The body comes in lengths of 10, 12 and 14 feet with capacities of 450, 540 or 630 cubic feet.

Reach is assembled in Michigan by Spartan Motors, Utilimaster's corporate parent. It's built on an Isuzu EcoMax chassis powered by a 150-horsepower, 3-liter 4-cylinder die-sel running through an Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission. It's rated at 12,000 pounds GVW and offered in wheelbases of 134 and 151 inches.

Daimler Aero Truck saves 3% in fuel

If the body on this Daimler-designed Aerodynamics Truck looks familiar, it's because it shares most of its elements with a semitrailer featured in this month's FuelSmarts (page 56). Both were fashioned by Daimler Trucks and Schmitz Cargobull, the latter a prominent truck-body and trailer builder in Europe.

It has the same side-trim panels, which are split so individual elements can fold down to allow access to tanks, wheels and other equipment, says Georg Weiberg, head of truck-product engineering at Daimler.

The body's front-vertical edges are rounded with a radius of 200 millimeters (7.88 inches) and the transitions between roof and walls each have a radius of 80 millimeters (3.15 inches). Vents near the rear funnel air into the low-pressure area behind the body.

The walls are smoothly padded and lined, and the paneled underbody features slits to dissipate the heat from the engine, Weiberg explains. "The body of the Aerodynamics Truck is also rounded off with a 'boat tail,' and a cargo liftgate is concealed behind it."

The van body is a typical European 6.5 meters long and 2.55 meters wide (21.3 feet by 8.4 feet) and has an interior height of 2.2 meters (7.21 feet). It's mounted on a Mercedes-Benz Actros cab-over-engine chassis.
The streamlined body cuts wind resistance by 12% over today's Euro-type straight trucks, which are commonly in highway service, Weiberg says.

"This equates to fuel savings of around 3% on motorways," based on testing in wind tunnels and on tracks. "Assuming a distance traveled of 50,000 kilometers (31,070 miles), this means fuel savings of 350 liters (92.5 gallons) per annum," he says. "In cash terms, this is a saving of 500 euros ($650) and a reduction for the environment of almost 1 tonne (2,250 pounds) of CO2."

Trying to achieve similar savings through powertrain and running-gear improvements would be far more costly to manufacturers and custom ers, Weiberg says.

Vans ready to go

Two truck makers are promoting deals with major body builders meaning they have vehicles ready to go with van bodies. Hino recently partnered with Morgan Corp. to equip its Class 6 and 7 chassis with dry freight vans at several locations across the country, while Isuzu for some time has had similar arrangements with Morgan and Supreme for its Class 3 and 4 trucks.

"We should do about 700 to 800 trucks with Morgan and Supreme this year," says BrianTabel, retail marketing manager for Isuzu Commercial Truck of America. Bodies are installed on NPR diesel and gasoline-powered chassis.

"Both Morgan and Supreme have program bodies thatthey build for us in a certain time period," he says. Morgan build time is two to three weeks. Supreme build time is four to five weeks.

The company also is beginning to stock some fast-moving upf itted trucks and chassis at both Morgan and Supreme to cut down on that time. Some dealers also stock them.The program bodies are priced at the Isuzu volume pricing versus ordering one body.

Hino Trucks' deal with Morgan, announced in October and now operating, gives Hino dealers across the country access to faster turnaround times on 24- and 26-foot dry freight van bodies, and provides customers shorter lead times, says Glenn Ellis, vice president of marketing.

"Morgan has been a first-rate supplier to HinoTrucks over the last number of years," he says.The QuickTurn program will expand that relationship.

QuickTurn will serve dealers and customers in 46 states (excluding, Hawaii, Alaska, California and Nevada).Trucks will be stocked through Morgan's regional manufacturing operations in Morgantown, Pa.; Rydal, Ga.; Corsicana,Texas; and Lakeland, Fla. Customers will get consistent, national pricing across the country through all Hino dealers.

"This new program is designed to have a 21-day turnaround from chassis or order receipt on stocked trucks," says Chris Johnson, Morgan's national account manager.

From the November issue of HDT.