Corrugated steel yields a lightweight trailer
Higher payload capacity and better operating economy - these properties characterize a new truck trailer that has been developed by the Spanish LeciTrailer company. Advanced high strength steel and a new design approach have enabled the designers to reduce the trailer weight by 15 percent. This has provided scope for raising the payload by a further 1000 kg. LeciTrailer was nominated for the Swedish Steel Prize 2009 for its new trailer.
The new LeciTrailer trailer will be an interesting item of news for the transport industry when it is taken into production in the near future. It is light and can carry more load.
High strength steels have been decisive to the weight reduction. They have allowed for a new, more robust design in which several cross members have been eliminated. This has been achieved by a new, stiffer floor consisting of three layers. The bottom layer is a 1 millimetre thick sheet of advanced high strength steel with a minimum yield strength of 1000 MPa. On top of this is the next layer consisting of corrugated sheet steel of the same grade. The corrugated sheet steel is the reason for the torsional stiffness and strength of the floor. The top layer is a 9 millimetre thick sheet of plywood.
”The floor is exceptionally strong, even though we have removed the cross members below it,” explains Carlos Martin Lafuente, Chief Designer at LeciTrailer. “We have used the properties of high strength steel both for reducing the material thickness and for achieving a stronger design.”
Main chassis frame members
The two 30-odd metre long main chassis frame members have also been modified. They are made of a hot-rolled, extra-high strength steel with a yield strength of 700 MPa. This represents an upgrading compared to the earlier steel grade with a strength of 355 MPa. The material thickness has been reduced here by up to a half. All of these changes together have resulted in a trailer that is 1000 kg or around 15 percent lighter.
The designers also studied aluminium as an alternative, but the costs would have spiralled to unreasonable levels. The choice of advanced high strength steel resulted in the best combination of weight saving and production economy.
Ready to face the market
During the whole of the two-year development period, LeciTrailer has worked with universities, industrial designers and materials experts from suppliers. Before production is started, LeciTrailer expects a gradual increase in demand for its new trailer. The company will invest in new production equipment, including new laser welders, for meeting the expected rise in production rate. The production capacity will be around 40 trailers a day.
The new trailer design opens the door to new export markets. Freight costs have so far been a constraint, but the new trailer can be broken down into sections and can be shipped in a container.
”This gives us entirely new opportunities for growing on export markets,” says Carlos Martin Lafuente, and continues by explaining the importance of the nomination for the Swedish Steel Prize.
“This offers conclusive proof that we have thought correctly in our work, and we are proud and pleased that we are one of the four nominated companies for this year’s prize.