Efficiency is key in any transport operation, even more so with refrigerated transport where the cost of running the fridge plants adds to overall running costs.
There’s also time efficiency. While refrigerated B-doubles provide a substantial increase in payload and cargo capacity over standard semi-trailers, the trade-off is the extra time it takes to split the combination for dock loading and unloading at either end of the trip.
Additionally, the need to run a fridge plant on each trailer adds considerably to both the initial purchase and whole-of-life running costs.
It was these factors and more that led Dave Murphy to develop super long refrigerated single trailers that he believes alleviate a common complaint with B-doubles doing linehaul work.
“There’s too much work involved splitting and reconnecting B-double combinations at either end when running linehaul routes such as Melbourne to Sydney,” Dave says. “Due to this issue it’s necessary to have support crews involving local drivers who do the loading and unloading at either end, which adds considerably to the cost of doing business.
“My initial reason for starting Euro Pantech was to supply imported refrigerated trailers from Europe to the Australian market,” Dave says.
“In my opinion the press made panels of these vans are superior to the vacuum made panels we use here, and it was during discussions about obtaining licences to do this that I discovered the possibilities enabled by Performance-Based Standards (PBS).”
Dave engaged with Marcus Coleman, Managing Director of PBS certification company Tiger Spider and, after initial discussions, discovered that combinations could be 20 metres (16.75-metre 28-pallet van) under Level 1 PBS.
“Then, after some more research of the regulations, we worked out that a 20.2-metre single trailer was permissible under Level 2A PBS,” Dave explains.
“I calculated that this would enable us to carry 33 pallets in a single van, but we then needed to validate thermal efficiency of the van within that longer space to ensure adequate cooling capacity.”
When it came to the axle configuration of the trailer, Dave decided to incorporate a bi-tandem axle setup similar to that used in super-dog tippers.
“This allowed for a seven-tonne increase over a traditional quad under Tier 3 Bridge assessment,” he says.
“It makes the van almost impossible to overload with normal industry sized pallets provided a twin-steer prime mover is used.”
To ensure swept path dimensions were met, the front and rear axles on the trailer self-steer and can also be lifted when travelling empty. In addition, the rear of the trailer is tapered and incorporates bi-fold doors – which contributes to aerodynamic efficiency and enables one pallet space at the very back of the trailer. Dave concedes, however that the bi-fold system is a step too far for most operators who only foresee damage from drivers.
Maximised fuel efficiency is key to success in transport, Dave says, adding that having one trailer to cool rather than two leads to significant savings in fridge fuel usage. He also contends that the relative lightness of the Unitrans panels contributes to the Euro Pantech’s tare weight of 13 tonnes.
He mentions that his Italian based panel supplier Unitrans is one of Europe’s elite panel makers and has been at the cutting edge of van building for many years.
According to Dave, while not mass produced, the panels have proven to be durable and easily maintained over a long life – 12 years at maximum grade on the European grading or downgrading system. It’s a standard Dave believes Australia should adopt to ensure consistent thermal qualities of refrigerated equipment.
Euro Pantech’s fuel-saving features – including the aerodynamically enhanced prime mover close coupled to the Euro Pantech trailer with its unique boat-tail rear end – should pique the collective interest of refrigerated linehaul operators across Australia.
“Fuel efficiency is affected by aerodynamics and rolling resistance (weight), so we have aimed to maximise both wherever possible,” Dave says.
“Across 110,000 kilometres, we have averaged 37l/100km or 2.7km/l – and this is improving as the Cummins X15 engine beds in.
“What would a 25 per cent saving in fuel do for your business’s bottom line?”
High thermal efficiency panels and a slippery shaped combination make for superior fuel efficiency of both the truck and fridge plant.
Front and rear self-tracking axles provide the 20.2 metre 33-pallet Euro Pantech trailer with a similar swept path to a standard B-double.