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CoolKit ends start/stop problems

Burnley, UK: CoolKit has solved problems caused by engine start/stop systems on new commercial vans.

CoolKit appoints its first distributor in continental Europe

The introduction of such economy drive systems has meant that more vehicles now have an engine start/stop system as standard. Although designed to enhance fuel economy, the start/stop function can present problems for fridge van conversions, where the refrigeration system is powered directly by the vehicle engine. This poses huge problems as these systems require constant power during transport keep them at the desired temperature.

CoolKit has an add-on feature to fridge van conversions that enables the automatic shut-down of the start/stop system every time the engine is started.  This completely eradicates the issue and has already proven to be a huge success amongst existing customers.

Mark Beaton, sales manager, CoolKit, says: “It is of course possible to factory order your commercial vehicle specifying no start/stop feature.  However, if the vehicle is already in manufacturing or if you have purchased a used vehicle for a refrigeration conversion, this feature can cause issues with the temperature control of the stock being transported, and the operator of the fridge van would be responsible for turning off the system every time the van is in use.

“Most start/stop systems incorporate a manual override control but the specification for special vehicles may often require the override to be an automatic feature. Most vehicle suppliers are not able to offer this facility as an option.

“The new interface is designed to automatically disable the Start/Stop function on vehicles where this feature is not desired. Each application is designed specifically for a particular vehicle type and provides seamless control over the start/stop system.

“Each time the vehicle engine is started, the interface automatically disengages the start/stop control so that manually overriding the function is not necessary.  The start/stop function can be re-instated by the driver at any time during the journey but will automatically cancel again the next time the vehicle is started.

“With the Euro 6 engine soon to be launched and more initiatives emerging for vehicle emissions, the likelihood is that most or all vehicles will soon be specified with a start/stop facility as standard.”

One of the first customers to benefit from the system is Metrow Foods of Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. Dave Thomas, transport manager, Metrow Foods, says: “CoolKit have gone above and beyond in providing a solution to a major problem we had with the start/stop facility on our vehicles.

“The service offered throughout on this has been superb. The start/stop solution fitted to our vehicles now means we can run the fridge system without the worry of causing any damage to the vehicle itself and invalidating any warranty.”

Waitrose hails Gray & Adams’ key role in clean, green trailer project

Edinburgh, Scotland: Gray & Adams has won praise from Waitrose for the part it has played in developing the retailer’s ground-breaking ‘ultra-low carbon’ trailers.

Simon Gray, vehicle engineering manager, John Lewis Partnership, parent of Waitrose, highlighted the manufacturer’s ability to turn radical designs into practical reality. “We’ve worked with Gray & Adams for many years and the collaboration between our two companies works well.”
Gray & Adams (1)He was speaking shortly after Waitrose confirmed more orders for its aerodynamic boat-tail trailers from Gray & Adams. The John Lewis Partnership is a member of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight consortium, a collaboration between Cambridge and Heriot-Watt Universities and organisations in the freight and logistics sectors. It researches engineering and organisational solutions that seek to make road freight economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Waitrose has long specified its Gray & Adams trailers with wind-cheating features such as large radius panel cappings and side skirts.  However, through John Lewis’s participation in the government’s low-carbon truck trial programme, and with input from Cambridge University, the retailer has developed a trailer that takes environmental compatibility to another level.

The academics conducted wind tunnel research and focused particularly on the aerodynamics beneath and around the rear of the trailer, as well as between the trailer and the tractor unit. They then came up with a series of proposed modifications designed to cut aerodynamic drag by 14%. These, they predicted, would deliver fuel savings of approximately 7%.

The Cambridge University recommendations included:

  • a tapered ‘boat tail’ on the upper rear of the trailer
  • slightly tapered sidewalls at the rear
  • a lowered overall vehicle height
  • a smooth underside, open at the back, to help air flow out from beneath
  • an air management kit for the tractor, matched closely to the trailer with minimal gaps.

The results of simulation modelling and other tests were encouraging, but practical considerations would be key to the success of the project – crucially, to be economically viable the ‘boat tail’ design must entail no loss of cargo space, while the new trailer must also be compatible with Waitrose’s loading bays and existing equipment.

Enter Gray & Adams. Simon Gray explained: “It’s all very well having a nice set of drawings, but you then have to make it work in the real world. Gray & Adams did a good job of that. “We sat down with the manufacturer and worked our way through it. I recall one problem relating to reversing the trailer onto the bay. It meant we had to amend the original aerodynamic design in order to accommodate the loading dock infrastructure, but we were able to do so without compromising the optimum boat-tail angle.

 Rather than lowering the door height, the boat-tail taper was achieved by reducing insulation at the rear of the trailer, where ambient products tend to be carried and temperature control is therefore less critical


Rather than lowering the door height, the boat-tail taper was achieved by reducing insulation at the rear of the trailer, where ambient products tend to be carried and temperature control is therefore less critical

“This was a typical case in point – whenever an issue arose Gray & Adams would come up with an alternative suggestion, which we’d then take back to the guys at Cambridge University to get their views. So it was very much a three-way collaboration, with the aim of getting the best possible result.”

Rather than lowering the door height, the boat-tail taper was achieved by reducing insulation at the rear of the trailer, where ambient products tend to be carried and temperature control is therefore less critical. This meant there was no adverse effect on carrying capacity, and no cages were lost. Meanwhile, the trailer side skirts that cover half the wheels with the aim of reducing drag, were designed with a hinged mechanism which enables easy access to the underbody and wheels.

Waitrose commissioned its first handful of ultra low-carbon trailers in 2014. Built by Gray & Adams’ at it Fraserburgh headquarters, these were followed by more orders in 2015 and again in 2016.

“We’ve fine-tuned the specification along the way but the basic concept has been a success since day one,” confirmed Simon Gray. “The trailers are delivering the 7% improvement in fuel efficiency that we’d anticipated, and this is over our standard trailers which are themselves of a low drag design.

“The 7% improvement translates into an annual per vehicle saving of around 2,800 litres of fuel, and a reduction in the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere each year of more than 7,000 tonnes. It also means that we will recoup the increased capital cost of each trailer within two years. Given that we envisage a 10-year life for our trailers, these are highly cost-effective as well as environmentally beneficial.”

Waitrose has also ordered a number of specialised twin-deck trailers from Gray & Adams this year. “We’re never satisfied at the John Lewis Partnership and are always looking at ways in which we can do things better,” Gray said.

Bedworth Haulage sets new fuel record with Actros

Coventry, UK: Temperature-controlled transport operator Bedworth Haulage reports weekly savings on its fuel bill of up to £190 per unit from its latest Mercedes-Benz tractor units, compared to the previous truck models.

Bedworth says the four Actros 2551s are returning 10.5mpg and more, which puts them some two miles per gallon ahead of their main competitor.

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Bedworth’s four Actros 2551s return better than 10.5mpg

“And that’s after just three months on the road!” says Ian Thacker, whose father Robbie owns the business. “I’d like to think that as they loosen up the fuel figures will get even better.”

Supplied by Midlands Truck & Van, the Actros are powered by second-generation 510hp engines and additionally fitted with fuel-saving Predictive Powertrain Control systems, on which the dealer provided driver-training.

Bedworth Haulage runs 34 top-weight tractor units in which three other brands are also represented. The line-up includes five other Actros GigaSpace models, all with Euro V engines. The first of these, also a 2551, entered service early in 2013, and was followed later that year by a quartet of 450hp Actros 2545 variants.

Thacker says: “The big disparity in fuel efficiency is partly explained by the fact that while our Mercedes-Benz trucks are powered by 12.8-litre straight-six engines, the majority of our Swedish trucks have big V8s.

“Even allowing for this, though, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Actros is the most economical truck on the market right now… and by a wide margin. That’s particularly true of the latest versions. Our Euro V Actros have always been comfortably ahead of the rest, but with these second-generation Euro VI models Mercedes-Benz has raised its game by another big notch.

“The new Actros are returning mid-tens and even as much as 11 mpg, which represents an extra half a mile per gallon or so over their predecessors. Fuel is our biggest expense. Our trucks typically cover 3,000 km a week and the total bill for last week alone was £33,000, so savings of this magnitude are very welcome.”

Bedworth Haulage’s tractor units pull temperature-controlled trailers by Gray & Adams, a number of which incorporate special features designed to ensure that fish and shellfish

Bedworth runs Gray and Adams trailers, some specially adapted for fish and shellfish

Bedworth Haulage’s tractor units pull temperature-controlled trailers by Gray & Adams, a number of which incorporate special features designed to ensure that fish and shellfish reaches its destination in peak condition. “Over recent years we have built excellent working relationships with other hauliers in the north of Scotland and as a result this part of our operation has been growing particularly strongly.

“Ensuring that the product does not stop is crucial so our trucks are running constantly up to Inverness and the nearby ports, collecting fish which we then transport down to London, as well as to France and Spain,” Thacker says.

The optional Predictive Powertrain Control system as specified on Bedworth Haulage’s latest Actros uses digital 3D mapping and GPS data to scan the road ahead. Armed with this information it manages gear changes and vehicle speed, making full use of the truck’s EcoRoll function to restrict diesel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The operator is also an enthusiastic proponent of Mercedes-Benz FleetBoard telematics, which it fits not only to its Actros but also to other makes of truck. “FleetBoard is very simple to use and provides a wealth of invaluable data not only on the vehicle itself, but also on the way it’s being driven,” Thacker says.

“Despite a bit of early reticence on the part of one or two, our drivers have also really taken to the Actros. The truck is very comfortable and the GigaSpace cab is a superb bit of kit, a great environment in which to live as well as work.”

Bedworth Haulage’s latest Actros are the subject of a Mercedes-Benz Financial Services operating lease arranged by Midlands Truck & Van. “The deal was competitively priced and allows us to get the trucks inspected and serviced anywhere within the manufacturer’s official Network,” Thacker says.

Founded in 1970, Bedworth Haulage was running a handful of trucks when it was purchased in 2006 by former driver Robbie Thacker. In additional to its temperature-controlled transport operations, which also include pharmaceuticals, it offers a high-value logistics service, warehousing, cross docking, heat treatment services, and repairs and maintains trailers in its own workshop.

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