Many operators are looking at taking the weight out of livestock crates to help improve productivity. New materials and lighter axles go a long way to achieving this.
The calculation where you balance tare weight on one side and durability on the other, is a constant one for operators and, therefore, as a direct result, for trailer makers. Looking at the overall combination, the prime mover is not something where much weight can be taken out of the design, without a considerable compromise on durability.
On the trailer, there is a wide mix of components involved and a broad range of options on the table, which can affect the overall mass of the trailer. Choosing those options varies, both in terms of freight task and area of operation. The difference between a trailer spending the vast majority of its life on bitumen, when compared to one which lives on the dirt, is quite striking.
It’s not all about tare, on its own in the livestock industry. There is also the subject of flexibility, developing a trailer which can carry a variety of different livestock, all of which have different requirements. In New South Wales the Livestock Loading Scheme allows livestock to run at HML weights, incentivising operators to minimise tare.
The considerations the potential trailer buyer has to understand are well illustrated by a B-double trailer set which was on display at the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers association conference held in Tamworth.
The trailers were built by Byrnes Trailers for, livestock operator, Dawsons from Wagga Wagga and use a number of elements to bring down the overall tare. The trailer was designed to fulfil two separate functions to improve its productivity. It needs to be able to carry both cattle and sheep.
For cattle the two decks need to be robust, but when the focus turns to sheep cartage lightweight laminated sweep decks allow the truck to handle four decks loaded with sheep. Cattle trailers are normally relatively light, but adding this fold-down flooring will add extra weight.
Of course all of the weight savings come from saving some in several aspects of the design. One of the big ticket items on this score is the use of Hendrickson Intraax axles and suspension on the trailers.
The axle technology developed for Intraax delivers an increase in bending and torsional stiffness, this allows designers to reduce weight, while retaining durability, aided by advanced robotic manufacturing techniques. The Hendrickson axle wrap with circular window weld is one of the features of the design to deliver this structural integrity.
The brake hardware is welded to the suspension beams rather than the axle, reducing stress on the axle itself. The trailing arm is also designed to minimise weight by being directly attached, there is no need for U bolts.
The Quik-Align pivot connection makes wheel alignment easier to do, with no welding or special tools needed, while saving fuel at the same time. The wheel end used is the HXL7, with its five year 1.2 million km warranty. It is sealed unit, but it is a serviceable item, just one with a long life. The one-piece unit is easy to adjust in the field, if needed.
Although Hendrickson are unwilling to put an exact weight saving through fitting Intraax on this trailer set, it is clear the use of these axles has contributed significantly to its weight saving.