Innovation amidst chaos

Innovation amidst chaos

Commercial vehicles wouldn’t be viable without trailers to carry the load. We showcase some innovative developments for these cargo carriers and the companies that manufacture them

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the world as companies and entire countries are battling its physical and economic effects.
The truck and trailer bodybuilding company, Serco, has joined the fight with its sanitation booth, which sprays a fine mist of people-friendly disinfectant onto users to help prevent the spread of the virus. Dubbed the “Sani-Booth”, the first unit has been delivered to a client, Monteagle Logistics, for its warehouse in Durban.

Serco chief executive officer Clinton Holcroft says his company has been using the lockdown time to review its product range and fast-track developments and new solutions. “We developed the Sani-Booth after being approached by several customers keen for a super-efficient sanitation booth for use by high volumes of staff arriving and leaving work, and as a method of helping to ensure workplaces stay healthy, hygienic and safe.”

The walk-through booth incorporates a hands-free sensor to activate the pump and an eight-nozzle system that produces a fine mist of disinfectant, enabling the thorough sanitisation of a fully clothed person from head to toe.

“The control panel has been designed and manufactured by Ikhaya Automation, and the pumps and fittings are standardised for easy replacement if necessary. We have sourced a human-friendly disinfectant solution that is mixed with purified reverse osmosis water, which kills germs,” explains Holcroft.

He adds that, in addition to the “Sani-Booth”, Serco has several exciting developments in the pipeline.

Holcraft emphasises that from an economic perspective South Africa – like most countries – will have a large deficit to address when the pandemic subsides. “As a proudly South African company, Serco is committed to doing our part in rebuilding the economy. The hardship inflicted by the pandemic on people and businesses has been real, but it could be argued that previous generations endured much worse.

“South Africa has had the benefit of forewarning to react proactively, based on the knowledge available from other countries that have made positive progress in combating the virus.”

Companies in other countries have also been pushing ahead during these trying times. One stellar example is the German original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Schmitz Cargobull, which has augmented its M.KI tipper truck bodies – as reported in Global Trailer, published by Australia’s Prime Creative Media.

  • The VDL SLF-E H2, a unique fuel-cell bus in the Netherlands, is equipped with a trailer that houses H2 technology.

The German company now offers thermal insulation for the M.KI body, which has a capacity of 18 m³ and is designed to transport smaller quantities of tarmac.

“The body has to be thermally insulated and must also have a heat-resistant cover to prevent heat loss out of the top,” the OEM said in a statement. “Before tipping, the quality of the tarmac must be able to be checked with a valid temperature measurement.”

Schmitz Cargobull is represented locally by the transport equipment designer, manufacturer and service provider GRW – as it acquired 33 percent of the shares in GRW Holdings, which was initiated in January 2016.

GRW is able to offer a range of premium quality products including Schmitz Cooling units with intelligent temperature control and remote diagnostics; and Schmitz Telematics, a reliable and integrated, yet open, telematics system.

Global Trailer reports that the M.KI truck tipper body, with full thermal insulation, incorporates Schmitz Cargobull’s extensive experience in the field of temperature-controlled goods transport.

“An optimised body shape design is reported to ensure a low centre of gravity, thereby increasing tilt stability,” the Australian publication reports. “Also, the temperature-resistant body cover has an electric sliding tarpaulin, which can be operated safely and conveniently from ground level.”

The thermal insulation is reported to add approximately 195 kg in weight to the trailer. “The model range includes bodies with various floor thicknesses with a side wall height of 1 460 mm in different rear wall designs,” writes Global Trailer.

“With an annual production of approximately 63 500 trailers, and with around 6 500 employees, Schmitz Cargobull is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of semi-trailers, trailers and truck bodies for temperature-controlled freight, general cargo and bulk goods.”

Trucks aren’t the only commercial vehicles that received an upgrade to their trailers, as VDL Bus & Coach has delivered a unique fuel-cell bus in the Netherlands. The VDL SLF-E H2 is equipped with a trailer that houses the H2 technology. This, in turn, provides power to the batteries of the electric bus.

The buses were ordered by the Dutch transport company Connexxion a few years ago. Commissioning was delayed due to complex laws and regulations regarding the use of hydrogen buses.

The bus is the first of four to be put in operation in the region Hoeksche Waard-Goeree Overflakkee, south of Rotterdam.

The Italian-based media company Sustainable Bus, which focuses on “green” buses and sustainability in the field of public transport, writes: “As reported on GreenCarCongress the range extender system has been developed by Bosch Engineering together with VDL Enabling Transport Solutions within the scope of EU-funded GiantLeap project. Fuel-cell stacks are provided by Ballard Power System.”

The bus drivers and mechanics who will be working with these units have obtained driving licence E in addition to driving licence D, to be allowed to take this special construction on the road.

With a full tank of hydrogen, these buses can travel about 350 km. Refuelling is done at the hydrogen station of Air Liquide in the city Rhoon.

In 2021, the number of hydrogen buses in Hoeksche Waard–Goeree Overflakkee will be expanded thanks to the purchase of 20 new Urbino 12 Hydrogen buses from Solaris.

So, although the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the world, the transport industry, both locally and abroad, is clearly cranking up innovation to help keep people safe and transport operators moving forward.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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