Making something more aerodynamic (which can be described as "creating a shape that reduces the drag of air moving past") can be useful in an array of situations and commercial engineering applications. Within the transport industry, particularly for those doing haulage jobs, it is being increasingly recognised as a particularly desirable factor.
For medium to large transport companies whose bread and butter involves carrying out a high volume of work, ensuring that fleet vehicles are performing optimally in terms of their aerodynamic styling is of key importance to maximising profits.
Aerodynamics for HGVs
Put simply, in order to make a lorry more fuel efficient, reduce emissions, maximise performance and create improved stability, the aim is to reduce the "drag" of the airflow around it so that it travels with greater ease. To do this, vehicles can be modified (either in the factory or retrofitted) with certain equipment that improves the pattern of the airflow, making them more streamlined. While there are numerous pieces of equipment that will help, one in particular appears to offer great improvements in fuel efficiency and driver convenience.
The Smart Spoiler
The UK company Hatcher Components has released a new product called the Smart Spoiler, billing it as the "ultimate in operator convenience". The claim is well-founded, as no input or effort at all is required by the driver to reap the rewards it provides in terms of reducing drag. And for busy drivers on back-to-back haulage jobs, that's certainly an appealing prospect – getting all the gain with no pain!
The Smart Spoiler is fitted to the roof of the cab to provide a "bridge" to the trailer and to fill the gap between these two components, as air can get trapped and increase drag. When connected, the air kit automatically adjusts the spoiler to the height of the trailer, providing optimum aerodynamics and meaning that no matter what trailer height is being towed, one size fits all. The technology detects the dimensions of the trailer and adjusts accordingly, sparing the driver the trouble of making manual changes. It remains at the chosen height until the trailer is removed and a new one is detected.
This automatic functioning is a huge bonus, not just in terms of driver effort, but also because it removes the guesswork from the equation. With drivers undertaking a range of haulage jobs, the size and height of the trailer can vary from day to day or even from job to job.
Smart Spoiler Hits the Market
Before being released to the general market, Hatcher Components trialled the product with a textiles manufacturer, whose fleet utilised three different types of trailers. The gadget was deemed an innovation by the company's distribution manager, who cited impressive statistics for increased fuel efficiency in their DAF XL and Volvo FH vehicles that were fitted with the spoiler.
Improved Green Credentials and Social Smarts
For companies looking to get a little "greener" on their haulage jobs, fitting a component like the Smart Spoiler is a clear statement of their intentions. With the increasing buzz around social responsibility within the industry, this is not just good for business and the environment, but can also be a very intelligent marketing and PR tactic.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage jobs with available drivers. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.