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Efficiency in motion for trucks and trailers

(Image: Truck Sail)

The future of energy is precarious, with many energy analysts noting volatility and pressure to the upside of the energy and oil markets. These analysts are watching the price of diesel since its increase can have an inflationary effect on delivered goods, including food.

Future-looking analysts note that there will not be a “second shale revolution” and declining current reserves are not being replaced by current investments in oil and gas drilling, which could result in shortages in as little as a few years.

This revelation points to the importance of maximizing energy efficiency across all industries, including and especially the transportation sector.

Truck Sail has set out to help trucking companies do just that by installing aerodynamic, drag-reducing devices on their trucks. This not only saves fuel costs, but also extends the working life of trucks and trailers through energy demand.

Truck Sail has patents for a 3D, ram-air pressurized design for three aerodynamic devices for transport trailers and straight trucks: boat tails, trailer skirts and gap fairings. 

In addition to these patents, Truck Sail boasts the manufacturing know-how to help transfer technology to purchasing corporations –  or to enable rapid manufacturing set-up for launch and scale-up.

Ultimately, these innovative devices have the power to change how the industry operates and transform the concept “Super Truck” into reality.

Resource conservation

Truck Sail’s suite of devices is designed to help fleets conserve valuable resources through a combination of increased fuel efficiency and extended equipment lifespans.

Currently, fully loaded trucks traveling at highway speeds use about half of their fuel supply to overcome air drag. For shorter and lighter trucks, that number climbs even higher. This contributes to both suppressed revenue and environmental challenges on a daily basis. Reducing fuel waste is crucial for fleets working to become more efficient and more sustainable.

According to Truck Sail’s wind tunnel and test track data, carriers can achieve fuel savings of 4.5% with the Truck Sail boat tail on a 53’ trailer and about 10%  on a straight truck. The company’s trailer skirts provide even more savings, coming in at 6% savings  on average, with an additional 4%  savings available via skirt extensions on 53’ trailers. 

Finally, the company said carriers should expect 1.5% to 4% in fuel savings for the gap fairing, depending on existing truck and trailer configuration.

By increasing fuel efficiency, Truck Sail’s devices also promote greater equipment longevity. This is because the working life of the tractor or straight truck relates directly to energy throughput over time.  

When a trailer is driving in crosswinds without an aerodynamic shape, the energy demands on the engine surge and contribute to earlier maintenance demands and a shorter equipment lifespan.

Trailers, on the other hand, are vulnerable to water damage and corrosion over time. Truck Sail’s trailer skirts and boat tails also promote longer trailer lifespans by covering vulnerable zones while streamlining airflow.

Road and street safety

Trucks are involved in thousands of serious or fatal accidents on an annual basis. As a result, trucking companies have been subject to an increasing number of nuclear verdicts in recent years. Many of these devastating crashes – and business-pending court cases – can be prevented through the use of advanced street safety measures.

Some of the most important measures for increasing street safety can be simple. Increased lighting around a truck’s rear wheel bogie could alert passenger vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to its presence, instantly preventing potentially tragic accidents.

Truck Sail advocates for this type of safety lighting, whether it is conventional amber strips or a diffuse soft glow effect, made possible by the unique 3D enclosed design. Any amount of lighting can greatly enhance conspicuity at night.

From a more tech-oriented perspective, Truck Sail is also a proponent for utilizing – and protecting – advanced driver assistance systems.

Much like Truck Sail’s devices protect the trailer, these tools serve as protective housings for ADAS technology. Additionally, Truck Sail has demonstrated radar proximity safety sensors in their trailer skirts. These sensors can trigger both audio and visual cues, allowing them to warn the truck driver of approaching vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and wildlife.

In addition to sensors, Truck Sail is developing a full-length, light-weight safety rail system to address the common side underride crash issue to help reduce collision fatalities and serious injuries.

Taken together, these safety features can contribute to enhanced road safety, which may be reflected in fewer insurance claims and, with continued use, reduced insurance costs.

Return on investment

Standout durability is one of the basic tenets of return on investment, and Truck Sail has worked hard to ensure its devices stand the test of time.

Automatic boat tails offer a myriad of benefits over more manual options. When a boat tail deploys automatically on the highway and retracts at slow speed, it is much easier to ensure that neither the boat tail nor the dock door is damaged when a trailer is parked near a wall or loading dock. 

Likewise, trailer skirts commonly encounter hump clearance impact over high railway tracks or docking ramps. Trailer skirt aerodynamic performance relates directly to height. Repeated passive flexing alters the shape and appearance of semi-rigid skirts, which then may flutter in cross winds. One solution to this size-shape-flutter compromise is a ram-air pressurized system that can be speed-automated to avoid clearance contact. While an automated system is expensive compared to formed plastic, the cost differential can be more than recovered through greater fuel economy alone.

The potential for high-impact advertising, back-lit by safety lighting, could also provide a future revenue stream. The idea of ads paying for technology in the virtual world is well established. This concept could be transferred to the physical world of trailers. Significant return on investment could be realized through this type of AdTech because there are multiple surfaces available for ad placement – including boat tails, trailer skirts and gap fairings. Some of the ad revenue could be returned to trucking companies to induce participation in the program and ensure that ads are maintained properly, including being kept clean.

Click here to learn more about Truck Sail.

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She works with clients to develop sponsored content that tells a story. She worked as reporter and editor at FreightWaves before taking on her current role as Senior Content Marketing Writer. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.