Trucks taking on climate change

CLIMATE change has presented the Australian community, industry and Government with a need for a revolutionary policy approach in the establishment of commodity and financial markets aimed at facilitating the reduction of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions.

CLIMATE change has presented the Australian community, industry and Government with a need for a revolutionary policy approach in the establishment of commodity and financial markets aimed at facilitating the reduction of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions.

The Australian Government has expressed its commitment to the introduction of emissions trading and ghg reporting, which will become mandatory for some companies in 2008/09.

Net ghg emissions from trucks total around 14.4 megatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (Co2-E), which means that the trucking industry contributes roughly 2.5 per cent of Australia’s ghg emissions.

According to AirRoad’s chief engineer Mick Egan, there is a lot that can be done within transport to reduce carbon emissions and implement sustainable technologies.

Egan is taking an engineering approach to the challenge including the benefits of best management practices, operational improvements and advanced technologies in trailer designs.

Egan has been designing trailers for AirRoad for over eight years and has been engaged for some time in designing trailers that are freight-friendly and more efficient, with larger cubic capacity whilst remaining within the B double and B triple parameters.

Safety and stability are also key considerations, an example being the independent suspension of AirRoad’s own design, which provides a lower centre of gravity and the ability to split the (pantechnicon) trailer into two decks. The two-deck split into 1.8 metres and 2.2 metres significantly reduces freight compaction during long-distance journeys and over less desirable roads.

This has a positive impact in relation to freight and carton damage, resulting in significantly less damaged freight, which is visible in AirRoad’s externally audited DIFOT, which is claimed to be the highest in the industry.

An additional advantage of this trailer design is that drivers experience better stability on the roads coupled with more freight capacity, allowing AirRoad to carry more freight than any other trailer. This leads to better fuel economy per tonne of freight — a plus for the environment, as well as safety for the drivers.

Originally, the pantechnicon trailers were designed and built purely to reduce running costs and provide clients with cost effective savings.

For example, one AirRoad prime mover tows in cubic capacity between 35 and 50 per cent more freight, using the same amount of fuel. AirRoad has found that more and more companies are intentionally choosing suppliers who assist them in reducing their overall carbon footprint.

Examining the coefficient of drag (Cd), the measure of aerodynamics resistance, is an area where Mick Egan has spent his energy along with others in the industry to obtain small efficiencies.

“Something as simple as standard roof deflectors, which have been used on prime movers since the 70s, when added to a cab with no aerodynamic devices will improve fuel economy by up to 6 per cent” said Egan.

“In the 80s truck manufacturers began offering integrated cab-roof fairings with closed sides. This design resulted in improved efficiencies of up to 15 per cent compared to a cab with no roof devices.”

AirRoad has also put the concept of close-coupled trailers in use with their B-doubles and B-triples, which adds to the efficiencies compared to the road train concept, where trailers are 2-3 metres apart, causing air turbulence and resulting in reduced fuel economy.

“We are absolutely proactive in our efforts to improve fuel efficiencies that result in positive benefits to environmental considerations,” Tim Paine, chairman of the AirRoad Group adds.

“Cost savings may be a driver, however ‘being green’ is also a motivating factor. We know we are an integral component of our customers’ supply chains, and with a growing focus across all sectors about the environment, companies do want to choose someone who is doing their bit.”

To date, AirRoad’s special trailers have travelled a total distance of approximately 18 million kilometres without any complications in terms of design, and its stability has proven itself with no rollovers.

To find out more about reducing your carbon footprint read our special feature in this edition, starting on page 43.

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