Spec trailers for longevity, not for price

Spec trailers for longevity, not for price

When purchasing new trailers, it's important to calculate initial costs versus the longevity of the construction process and life of materials.

A fleet investing in new equipment—truck or trailer—must attain the maximum life from that unit. Fleets of all sizes operate with their own specifications and reasons for those specs, yet another reliable spec’ing source is Lynn Reinbolt, the executive leading Road Systems Inc. (RSI), a reconditioner, rebuilder and remanufacturer of dry van trailers for a number of motor carriers including Con-way Freight and Con-way Truckload.

“Fleets can help themselves by spec’ing for longevity,” said Reinbolt. “It really comes down to initial costs versus the longevity of the construction process and life of materials. It’s a constant battle justifying the money up-front. Be willing to pay more and the unit will definitely last longer and pay dividends. This can assure a higher trade-in or sale value when ready to release the unit.”

The RSI team witnesses first-hand what works and what doesn’t when spec’ing trailers. Here are five areas, including Reinbolt’s insights, in which fleet managers may maximize trailer investment:

1. Flooring. “It’s the number one wear item. We use only premium ‘composite’ floors (high content white oak), supplied by Havco or Rockland Flooring. They’re tough, durable and withstand so much weather and other elements.” Other good choices in trailer flooring include maple or mixed hardwoods.

2. Upper coupler. “The wear and tear on the coupler is obvious so we improved the design by adding thickness to the bottom plate to strengthen it to last 20 years.” Other tips: Consider different grades of kingpins and priming the interior of the upper coupler to prevent rust.

3. Doors. “They can always be an issue. We need a stronger, longer-lasting door; most of the damage comes from poor freight-loading practices.” Other pointers: The number of quality door hinges can make a difference; gaskets seal out moisture to make possible a double seal; and door hardware (hinges, lock-rods, fasteners) should be of the best quality.

4. Axle and wheel-end parts. “These parts (brakes, slack adjusters, bearings, seals, brake chambers) absolutely must be durable and of the highest quality.” Notably, RSI prefers aluminum hubs and over-spec’s the size of bearings to add life to a reconditioned unit. RSI operates a multi-step remanufacturing axle-
suspension-brake operation.

5. Parts susceptible to corrosion. “On all the steel parts, we’re always looking for ways to improve the coating and the bottom of the trailer to resist the chemicals (acids and salts) placed on the highways.”  Reinbolt cites stainless steel frames as a life extender. Another suggestion is to use a self-healing undercoat. “We’re always looking for ways to improve the coating and the bottom of the trailer to resist the chemicals (acids and salts) placed on the highways.” Another suggestion is to use a self-healing undercoat.

Owned by Con-way Inc. and operated as an independent business servicing other major truck fleets, RSI was one of the first independent operations to refurbish commercial trailers. The refurbishment process recycles 100% of the trailer that needs reconditioning.

“Our management/production teams have developed a proven process to convert used trailers into like-new, high-quality conditioned trailers that will provide more service,” said Reinbolt. In Searcy, Ar., RSI’s three buildings (200,000 sq. ft). and 150 employees are divided into teams to tear-down, recondition, rebuild and remanufacture. With proven processes and assembly-line procedures, the teams remove worn-out equipment, refurbish the frame and build it up, returning it to like-new condition.

Since its 1977 origin, the RSI operation has processed 108,000 trailers—62,000 new, 30,000 refurbished, and almost 17,000 reconditioned units to various fleets’ specifications. These units are re-marketed at 20%-40% lower than the cost of a comparable new unit.

Reinbolt envisions a fleet “properly specifying a trailer to endure 20 years, and then it comes here to our operation, we refurbish it like-new for possibly another 20 years. That’s a 40 year life—now we’re talking smart use of equipment.”

It seems obvious that adding value and years of trailer life is simply the right thing to do.

You May Also Like

Hexagon Agility, Brudeli announce CNG/RNG system integration with PowerHybrid technology

The setup enables the powertrain to switch between hybrid modes, providing flexibility for fleets to operate with different energy options.

Hexagon Agility and Brudeli Green Mobility announced a collaboration integrating Hexagon Agility’s CNG/RNG systems with Brudeli's plug-in PowerHybrid technology.

Brudeli says its PowerHybrid allows long-haul trucks to operate up to 80% electric energy, utilizing a dual electric motor system. The setup enables the powertrain to effortlessly switch between serial and parallel hybrid modes, allowing the truck to operate in the most efficient mode as vehicle speed, load, driving patterns, and battery charge level vary.

Volvo Trucks 2014 engines improve fuel economy

Integral to the enhanced fuel efficiency benefits are multiple optimized or new engine components.

Carrier Transicold introduces XtendFRESH atmosphere control technology

Carrier Transicold said its new XtendFRESH container atmosphere control system uses innovative technologies to help maintain the quality of shipped produce, while extending shipping distances to enable growers reach new customers. The XtendFRESH system actively controls oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and removes ethylene, a hormone given off by ripening produce that will accelerate ripening if left unchecked.

Ford installs 500,000th 6.7-liter power stroke V8 turbocharged diesel engine

Ford announced the installation of its 500,000th 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbocharged diesel engine, which went into a new 2014 Ford Super Duty F-350 Lariat pickup truck. The engine was installed at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

Michelin Retread Technologies launches XDS 2 pre-mold retread

An all weather traction retread, optimized for severe winter conditions, has been introduced by Michelin Retread Technologies. The Michelin XDS 2 Pre-Mold drive tire retread, according to the company, can provide a 10% improvement in tread life over the XDS Pre-Mold.

Other Posts

Leveraging supplier relationships to navigate new truck technologies

As the trucking industry moves towards more sustainable and technologically advanced operations, fleet managers are finding themselves at a crossroads of opportunity and challenge. It can be exciting and intimidating to implement new technology, new equipment—pushing fuel efficiency and truck productivity further than before, but how can you be sure you’re making the right investments

Ford to provide charging infrastructure for city of Dallas

As part of the agreement, Dallas will install Ford Pro chargers at city worksites and use Ford Pro smart charging software.

Accelera showcases new technology at ACT Expo

“We now have over 1.5 billion miles in the field on our e-mobility products,” Amy Davis, president of Accelera, said.

ACT Expo 2024 kicks off

Day one keynote speeches came from executives at Volvo, Tesla, and more.