Aerodynamics Devices Aid Trailer Airflow, Enhance Fuel Economy, Carrier Execs Say
Carriers and aftermarket manufacturers are working to improve fuel economy by bolstering the airflow around every aspect of a trailer with a variety of devices, including side skirts, trailer tails, wheel covers, air tabs and mudflaps.
While some of the devices provide only small fuel savings, when added up, they can cut costs substantially, makers said. According to the National Reseach Council, using trailer skirts and tails, aerodynamic details on tractors and closing the gap between the trailer and the tractor will cut fuel costs by 15%. All in the mudflaps, which a manufacturer said could save 2% and you’ve cut fuel costs possible by more than 18%.
Carriers agreed that it is important to conduct their own tests on the devices in their typical operating conditions. “What works for one fleet doesn’t necessarily work for another fleet. Even within our work fleet, we might have something that works in one area but not in another,” said Bill Bliem, senior vice president of fleet services for NFI Industries, a transportation and logistics company based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. NFI ranks No. 25 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian forhire carriers.
NFI has about 7,500 trailers but uses side skirts only in certain environments, such as the Midwest.
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