Whether its dumps to dry vans, flatbeds or tank trailers, trailer makers have been focusing on making trailers lighter to improve freight capacity and fuel efficiency, safer for drivers, and stronger to extend the trailer’s life cycle.

We contacted trailer manufacturers and learned about the latest in trailers, manufacturing, product innovations and corporate news.

East Manufacturing

East has introduced a new time-saving and safety option to its dropdeck trailers – an all-aluminum tarp storage box built into the floor of the upper or lower deck. This on-deck access location reduces multiple trips up and down on the trailer to tarp the load or store the tarp and tie-downs, which saves time and energy for both tasks and lessens the chance for falls.

The tarp storage boxes are available in various depth configurations, depending on the drop at the neck and beam depth of the drop deck trailer, and can be placed in either the top deck, bottom deck or both decks.

Another safety improvement East made a few years ago was to offer an optional integrated stairway. East recently improved this option by adding a locking door enclosure that allows for fitting with ID lights that comply with federal DOT requirements, as well as a lighted license plate mounting area.

When the stairway is open, the deck lid locks securely in the upright position via double rods that slide into two specially designed receivers. The first of two handrails is located under the lid, providing a 45-degree vertical handhold that’s above deck height.

The second handrail is built next to the steps, which are made of pooch-punched aluminum for drainage and skid-resistance.

In the down position, the deck lid latches securely to prevent bouncing during transit. The deck lid is load bearing, so the trailer loses zero deck area because of the stairs.

The integrated stairway is all aluminum, so no extra weight is added to the trailer.

Fontaine Trailer

Fontaine Trailer is ramping up production for an all-aluminum Revolution Dropdeck trailer that will be available in this fall. Weighing in at 8,600 pounds, it is the lightest dropdeck in the industry with the biggest payload, according to the company.

The Fontaine Revolution Dropdeck has a sleek unitized design, made possible by technology borrowed from the aerospace industry. This patented design maintains the integrity of the trailer geometry under load and under centrifugal force to provide superior handling, up to 30% better tire wear and up to 3% better fuel economy.

The stability virtually eliminates “side-bow” so secured loads are less likely to shift in transit. This important safety feature reduces the potential for rollover situations.

The patented one-piece extruded aluminum siderail is 12 times stronger than traditional side rails, according to the company, for greater resistance to damage from side impacts.

An integrated load securement system makes loading and unloading faster, safer and much more driver-friendly.

Great Dane

Great Dane is offering its new standard EnduroGuard rear frame assembly in 2013 as a standard feature in its Champion series of dry vans.

EnduroGuard rear frames are designed with a combination of proven materials using galvannealed steel and stainless steel components to create an effective barrier against corrosion. The EnduroGuard rear frame assembly offers the corrosion benefits of zinc and stainless with the aesthetic benefit of a painted frame, says Great Dane.

According to Great Dane Vice President and General Sales Manager Jon Jeffries, the galvannealing process gives Great Dane customers confidence that their trailer’s rear frame assembly will last for the lifespan of the trailer, unlike galvanized coatings which can crack or flake over time. It also provides an integrated zinc surface that readily accepts Great Dane’s paint system.

The EnduroGuard rear frame is standard on all Champion models (SE, CL and CP) and is available with a choice of swing or roll-up rear doors. Non-deteriorating swing-type rear doors are standard and feature moisture-resistant skin sheets inside and out, as well as an impact-resistant polymer core, which further contributes to the door’s long life.

Hyundai Translead

Hyundai Translead’s Research and Development Department is working on development of a new lightweight, eco-friendly dry freight trailer.

This trailer, code name Eco-Cell, uses a steel sandwich construction panel for main structural components.

The first phase is to develop the lightweight sandwich construction panel, functional and reliable sidewall panels connections, lightweight logistic posts and lightweight sidewalls made of Eco-Cell sandwich material.

The Eco-Cell panel is a sandwich construction panel consisting of two outside faces and a core between them.

The four-point bending test shows that for the Eco-Cell panel, failure occurs at significantly larger force than it does currently for the plastic core composite panel.

Replacing the current 6.5 mm plastic core composite panel with 7.5 mm Eco-Cell and replacing standard stiffeners with the new lightweight stiffeners is estimated to reduce weight of a 53-foot dry weight trailer by approximately 4oo pounds.

Another application for the Eco-Cell Sandwich panel is the rear swing door. The Eco-cell panel replaces currently used material without redesigning the trailer’s rear frame.

Such doors also will be easier to open and close than the composite door, thanks to greater stiffness and smaller mass.

Kentucky Trailer

Kentucky Trailer announced a number of improvements this year, including that dual-function mini-LED lights will be installed on all 2014 models, improving visibility and aiding safety concerns. The lights will have 50% more illumination than standard incandescent lights, a 50,000-hour life and draw less amperage.

A user-friendly exterior light replacement kit will also be available. Also improved is a nose box switch featuring a long-life LED light, which also reduces amperage draw. Additionally, a new top rail with an internal raceway will protect wires from damage and external elements.

The rear header lights and clearance lamps will also use the new dual-function mini-LED lights, offering an advanced notice of stops and turns to following traffic.

Resilient, hard-coated door hinges and side door pans will now contain an anodized finish. This will prevent seizing, increase product life, and protect against causes of corrosion including magnesium and calcium chloride. Painted door hinges and side door pans are also available to complement each trailer’s appearance.

Improved corner castings will enhance structural integrity on all 2014 models, providing water penetration protection and impact resistance.

Mac Trailer

Mac Trailer introduced the new Macsimizer with a radius bulkhead with a low-profile front end. It has a lower center of gravity, providing a 7-inch-lower front end and a 6-inch-lower back end, with 31 inches less flat space on the bulkhead compared to the standard flat bulkhead.

The Macsimizer’s smooth-side walls create less drag resistance, which in turn boosts fuel economy. Air fairings maximize aerodynamics and increased fuel mileage.

Mac Trailer also announced an improved design of the Mac multi-axle moving floor trailer for Canada. Due to the harsh rigors that transfer trailers endure in the waste environment, the Mac Mover has been designed and built using a full-length fabricated aluminum I-beam frame with a stiffener plate on top to help prevent twisting and racking.

Mac also added strength to the floor by using all heavy-duty 3/8-inch floor crossmembers.

Mac Trailer is now offering the Mac Step-Up retractable stairs as an optional safety feature available on new Mac flatbed trailers. The pull-out step system with four anti-skid steps offers safe and easy access to the deck.

The system is designed to fully retract into the rear of the trailer and is secured by a latching door. This design allows the floor to remain in place maintaining its integrity for rear loading applications.

Polar Corporation

Polar Corp. has acquired the assets of Beall Transport Equipment Co., the aftermarket parts and service division of Beall Corp.

BTEC has branches in Denver; Salt Lake City; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Kent, Wash.; and Billings, Mont. They will join the Polar Service Centers national network of parts and service locations. Branches in Portland, Phoenix and Billings will be integrated with existing facilities currently operated by Polar’s service, parts, and equipment business known as Polar Service Centers.

The company says the Beall locations align well with Polar Service Centers and its independent dealers, especially in the western United States.

Stoughton Trailers

Stoughton Trailers launched enhancements to its Tough Plate model. The Tough Plate offers an inside width of 101 inches and features a high base rail designed to better withstand forklift damage during poor loading and unloading practices.

The Tough Plate also comes with a lower tare weight compared to a standard Z-plate van, which will allow a higher volume of freight to be transported while still remaining under state-regulated weight limits.

The base rail in Stoughton’s Tough Plate has a total height of 20 1/2 inches and extends 15 1/8 inches above the floor. This rail design makes the Tough Plate Stoughton’s most durable plate design, and eliminates the need for additional inside scuff and the maintenance that is associated with it.

The Tough Plate addresses the need in the industry for customers that are seeking a maximum interior width but also want stronger wall design.[PAGEBREAK]

Strick Trailers

Strick Trailers unveiled an updated Open Top trailer design to add to its lineup of sheet-and-post dry van trailers. The standard Open Top model features Strick’s impact-resistant TF1 snap-in HDPE side lining and a Shurco tarp system.

“We designed a new heavy-duty aluminum top rail for our Open Top in order to lighten the weight and decrease corrosion,” said Steve Burns, Strick Trailers’ general manager. “We believe that this product fills a niche in the marketplace, as not many manufacturers offer 53-foot-long sheet-and-post open-top trailers,” he said.

Open-top trailers are used for loading and unloading cargo from the top of the trailer, as opposed to most dry van trailers where cargo is loaded from the rear by forklift or by hand truck. Shippers often use Open Top trailers for transporting relatively long and thin products such as aluminum extrusions.

Strick teamed with Shurco as the primary supplier of the tarp system. In addition to the tarp, Shurco provides removable roof bows, a ground level crank and roll stops for the tarp.

Strick also provides a swing-away rear header on its Open Top trailer for loading and unloading with a crane. The updated Open Top design can be customized with a variety of options in order to meet a customer’s specific needs.

TalbertManufacturing

Talbert Manufacturing introduced its 40-Ton Lightweight Trailer, which can be customized for customers who need to remain below the superload weight limit in states with 120,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating restrictions.

The 40-Ton Lightweight trailer can be designed for the transport of excavators, small to mid-sized dozers and other construction equipment, and it weighs just over 18,000 pounds. When paired with a truck, the unit can transport equipment at full capacity – up to 80,000 pounds – while remaining under the 120,000-pound superload limit.

To best accommodate the height of an excavator, Talbert can customize the trailer with a 22-inch deck height and a deck boom well. This 6-foot-long recessed portion in the rear of the trailer is roughly 6 inches deep and plated for the bucket of an excavator. This lowers the overall height of the boom to ensure the load is a legal height.

The three-axle, 26-foot trailer features a four-beam deck design and auxiliary crossmembers for extra floor support. Talbert manufactures the trailers using 16-inch beams, consisting of T-1 flanges and 80K webs, to reduce empty weight and achieve the target trailer weight and deck height. The trailer can also be built with Walther EMC Dura-Light Hubs as a lightweight hub solution and CentriFuse brake drums. The trailer’s aluminum wheels also help keep the weight low.

The 40-Ton Lightweight trailer also features a new ratchet neck design. This design eliminates the need for changing adjustment blocks and enables the operator to adjust the ride height of a trailer from one side of the trailer.

Trail King

Trail King’s Continuous Belt Super Hi-Lite Rolled Side Ag Trailer features a smooth, continuous 48-inch 2-ply SBR rubber belt driven by a dual reduction planetary gearbox with heavy-duty roller chain and steel Z-Bar support to deliver fast, horizontal discharge of the load and hopper clean-out in one revolution or less.

This continuous belt design also reduces the risk of cross contamination between loads in several ways. First, unlike a segmented belt, a continuous belt has no voids created by overlapping belt sections where product can be trapped.

Second, Trail King’s continuous belt has a “banner” edge, or flange, along both of its outside edges. These edges, together with flashing that fits snugly against the belt flange, help prevent product leakage or build-up that can lead to cross contamination.

Because the hopper of the ASHR-C is extended almost a full 12 inches beyond the tailgate, the tailgate swings inside the hopper walls to close, “sweeping” the rubber seals into position to conform perfectly to the hopper shape.

Trail King has designed the belt drive chain to be housed in its own protective cavity outside the hopper. This effectively isolates it from contact with the load and, thereby, protects it from the corrosive effects of products such as fertilizers or bio-solid sludge.

The new Continuous Belt version of the Super Hi-Lite still features the smooth rolled-side design of its Segmented Belt predecessor with a one-piece extruded aluminum main frame. This rolled-side design effectively funnels the load down to the belt.

The Continuous Belt Aluminum Super Hi-Lite Ag Trailer is available in a variety of models, ranging in capacities from 55 to 105 cubic yards and overall lengths of 43 to 53 feet.

Transcraft (a subsidiary of Wabash National)

Transcraft Corp. recently introduced its first specialty trailer meant solely for hauling steel coil.

Transcraft collaborated with the original Wabash National engineering team to perfect a new bolt-together cradle system. With a natural low center of gravity, this trailer makes for a smoother ride and minimizes the chances of a catastrophic rolling event.

The new trailer design increases the frame rating for a total payload capacity of 90,000 pounds. The removable bulkhead combined with the optional load bars offer back-haul versatility. The redesigned canopy, now constructed of Wabash DuraPlate composite panels, is weatherproof and protects freight while reducing loading time by thirty minutes.

Utility Trailer Manufacturing

Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company introduced the Utility Side Skirt 120A-4, the company’s new advanced aerodynamic side skirt design.

The USS-120A-4 is U.S. EPA SmartWay verified to achieve greater than 5% fuel savings and can be used in combination with low rolling resistance tires on Utility trailers to achieve California Air Resources Board compliance for California operations.

“The new USS-120A-4 design is engineered to achieve greater ground clearance to reduce impact damage while maintaining the EPA ‘advanced’ trailer skirt designation,” said Craig Bennett, senior vice president sales and marketing at Utility.

The USS-120A-4’s galvanized high tensile steel bracing system allows the side skirt to flex both inward and outward, which can be bent back to their original shape if damaged. The side skirt is also manufactured with a UV protected bi-directional Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic construction. To further reduce impact damage the forward edge of the skirt is securely bolted with a spring attachment at the support leg assembly.

Utility offers a five-year warranty on the USS-120A-4 and is now available as a factory or dealer installation option for new Utility trailers. Retrofitting for existing trailers is available through Utility’s Aftermarket Department.

Wabash National

Wabash’s latest innovation for dry vans is the MaxClearance Overhead Door System, which offers a header-to-sill opening comparable to that of swing doors, providing a maximum overall vertical door opening of up to 110 inches.

Unique to Wabash National is the EZ-Adjust winding gear, which uses a patent-pending design. The new winding gear replaces winding plugs/cones, allowing for a more efficient and simple maintenance process. In addition, the new door system includes a new hinge system, which locks the door behind the rear header in a full horizontal position, eliminating impact damage to the bottom door panel – a common and costly maintenance issue for fleets.

Wabash also improved its DuraPlate composite trailer with the use of high-strength bonding technology. Bonded composite sidewalls eliminate the need for rivets, allowing for a smoother sidewall appearance, clean graphics application and eliminate potential leak points resulting from damage.

In addition, a bonded composite roof is brighter, snag-resistant and puncture-resistant, while eliminating roof bows and liners for additional cube space.

Also new this year from Wabash are two new models of its DuraPlate AeroSkirts, which are made from DuraPlate composite material. One is designed for less-than-truckload pup trailer applications, while the other is designed for tank trailer applications.

In track testing, two 28-foot double trailers equipped with the new skirt averaged 5.1% fuel-economy improvement. In field tests with a leading liquid tank carrier, tanks equipped with the new skirt averaged 7% fuel-economy improvement.

Wilson Trailer

Wilson’s new aluminum side rail and securement design is fully supported, top and bottom, with a new full-height TJ style aluminum crossbar design providing unitized strength to the aluminum floor, rail and crossbar connections.

The patented rail has an integrated double “L” winch track, which reduces weight, adds strength, and allows winch and strap securement to slide easier. Aluminum components resist corrosion.

Standard on Premier all-aluminum and Roadbrute combo flatbed and dropdeck models, the new side rail is available in two distinct styles: a TJ style that incorporates an in-floor receiving rail for quick tie plates, and a more conventional C style using stake pockets and pipe spools.

The TJ rail is designed to use the tie plates on the outside rail and below floor level, allowing wider loads to be secured at multiple locations and not be susceptible to mud, ice and gunk build-up. Large cutouts in the outside rail easily fit 4-inch-wide winch straps.

Wilson’s Premier Drop Deck is a true all-aluminum trailer with its attachment of the one-piece aluminum main beams to the aluminum gooseneck.

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