Great Dane shows high technology reefer, starts production of thin-wall dry van

Great Dane Trailers displayed an advanced design Super Seal lightweight refrigerated trailer as part of a high technology demonstrator project. Other companies working on the project include Volvo Trucks North America, Thermo King, MeritorWABCO, and Hendrickson International.

The base for the high technology trailer is Great Dane's Super Seal reefer, already one of the lightest refrigerated vans available for truckload applications. Called the Super Seal XLT, the trailer was built to demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating advanced designs on the production line. The result is a trailer that offers a number of benefits to users while remaining simple to operate and maintain, says Kit Hammond, Great Dane president.

Key to the new trailer's performance is an advanced insulation package that uses vacuum insulation panels in combination with poured-in-place polyurethane foam. The panels produced by SAES Getters USA of Colorado Springs, Colorado, are three to five times less conductive than conventional polyurethane foam, the supplier says.

As a result, they can be used in applications where minimum insulation thickness is vital. The panels enclose a microporous insulating material inside a gas impermeable envelope, which has been evacuated to a near vacuum and sealed. Gas absorbent material, called a getter, is sealed into the panel to help maintain the proper vacuum level during use.

Vacuum panels are embedded in the sidewalls and roof of the Super Seal XLT, partially filling the space between vertical posts in the sidewalls and between the bows in the roof. Appearance of the interior liners and exterior sidewalls is unchanged from conventional refrigerated trailer construction. Panel thickness is 1/2-inch in some applications and 3/4-inch in others. The XLT has sidewalls two inches thick and a 2⅞-inch roof. The effective insulation thickness is said to be two to three times greater than the actual thickness. The result is a super-insulated trailer with more cargo cube and lighter weight, Great Dane says.

In addition to its high performance insulation, the Super Seal XLT has a number of communication options, providing information to the driver and to managers at remote locations. By combining information technology from Great Dane, Volvo, Thermo King, MeritorWABCO, and Hendrickson International, information can be presented to the driver allowing adjustment of the trailer suspension as well as monitoring trailer temperature and refrigeration unit fuel level. Communication with remote locations is made possible with satellite or RF links.

The Super Seal XLT integrates tractor and trailer systems for the benefit of the user, says Charlie Fetz, Great Dane vice-president — research and development. Not only can the systems monitor a great range of data, but also the user can select information feeds tailored to specific needs.

Components communicate via the industry standard SAE J-1587 protocol used with PLC4TRUCKS. This system allows multiple communication links on the vehicle without adding to existing wiring harnesses. Since March 2001, all trailer braking systems have been required to provide system fault status to the tractor. On Great Dane's technology demonstrator, information is routed by the TCSII Enhanced Easy-Stop Trailer ABS system from MeritorWABCO, which acts as a gatekeeper and transmitter for information from other trailer systems.

For instance, the Thermo King SB-200 refrigeration unit can report its thermostat set point, discharge and return air temperatures, and fuel level using Thermo King's new iBox information system. The iBox can be installed as an aftermarket item on any Thermo King smart reefer. The entire information stream feeds to the integrated tractor-trailer communication on a Volvo VN770 tractor powered by a Cummins ISX engine with powerful microprocessor controls.

The demonstration trailer has an advanced braking system, electronic leveling, and integrated tire monitoring from MeritorWABCO. Other running gear components include Hendrickson Turner's Vantraxx HKA 180 suspension system that includes hub temperature sensors, disc brakes with lining wear sensors, a dock stabilizing technology leveling system, and Michelin X-1 wide base single tires.

The Super Seal XLT shows that advanced materials and systems can be made to work together, Hammond says. These features will be brought to market by Great Dane as customers see the need for them, he says.

Great Dane also has begun production on a new dry van called the SSL named after the single sided laminate material used for the interior lining.

The SSL has interior cube comparable to plate vans or composite wall trailers, but uses sheet-and-post construction.

The single-sided laminate lining has a layer of galvalume steel bonded to a rigid core. The lining has a yield strength of 80,000 psi. The single-sided laminate is corrosion and puncture resistant. It is installed with recessed fasteners to prevent protruding screw heads that can snag freight. Standard finish is natural; prepainted white is optional.

The SSL van is available with interior widths of 100 or 101 inches, which provides more than 40 cubic feet of cargo space compared to other sheet-and-post vans. Two 48" pallets can be loaded side by side on their long axis in the 101" van. Exterior skins are prepainted white aluminum.

TAGS: Trailers
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