Marks & Spencer is set to become the first company in the world to use a revolutionary, new articulated trailer, whose teardrop shape reduces CO2 emissions by 20% , when compared to a standard cab-trailer fleet operation.
Following successful controlled testing of a prototype, M&S has ordered the first 140 trailers, which have been developed and manufactured by Don-Bur, the market champions for innovative and operationally efficient commercial vehicle bodywork.
The lightweight trailer can carry up to 16% more load equivalent to 10,560 extra pairs of knickers - than a standard trailer. Its aerodynamic shape also delivers a 10% fuel saving. This shatters the long-held belief in the trucking industry that you cannot improve fuel efficiency without compromising load capacity. M&S 141 Teardrop trailers will reduce its carbon footprint by 840 tonnes every year.
The Don-Bur Teardrop trailers mimic the perfect aerodynamic lines of a teardrop, whilst increasing internal load space. The roof has a specially designed full-length curve and corners are rounded off to improve air flow, while the gap between the truck and trailer is minimised to reduce turbulence and skirts under the trailer further minimise the drag factor.
Simon Ratcliffe, General Merchandise Logistics Director at Marks & Spencer commented: The Teardrop trailers are another step in our efforts to take our UK and Irish operations carbon neutral under Plan A, M&S five-year eco-plan. Don-Burs revolutionary design has helped us not only reduce fuel usage and carbon emissions, but also allows us to carry more stock per trailer, cutting the number of journeys we need to make.
David Burton, Sales Director at Don-Bur said: Increasing fuel efficiency without reducing load capacity has been a conundrum that has faced the logistics industry for many years. The Teardrop trailer has solved this problem at a time when responsible organisations are looking to run transport networks which are both efficient and environmentally-friendly. We are delighted that Marks & Spencer has recognised the potential of the Teardrop model for its own business.
Aerodynamics: Historically, aerodynamic focus (tractor or trailer) has always been on the addition of various relatively small independent elements fitted to the existing bodywork and we have seen the inclusion of designs such as cab top deflectors, side collars, cab-trailer gaiters, side skirts, vortex generators and rear boat-tail fins. M&S has been a pioneer in many of these innovations, all of which have some degree of success and durability in a working environment.
For several years now, Don-Bur has started to alter the structural bodywork itself and has already proven the benefit of incorporating an EcoStream slope to the front roof section of double decks. Despite huge savings in fuel, there has always been a reduction in the available load space and operators have had to carefully consider which would have more impact on overall efficiency.
In this ground-breaking, standard height, single deck trailer project, the entire tractor-trailer combination has been considered as one. More importantly, the impact that the whole shape has on aerodynamics, from the moment the air reaches the front bumper to a point several metres behind the trailer, has been taken into consideration.
Turbulence and drag is caused when airflow is forced away from the surface by rapid directional change in bodywork such as corners or protrusions, forcing straight (or laminar) airflow away from the surface. Dependant on the speed on the vehicle, it may take several moments before the air can reach equilibrium again. The three worst areas that cause turbulence are a) when the air is forced over the tractor and tractor-trailer gap, b) under the chassis and c) the significant turbulent area behind the trailer.
Similar to an aerofoil, a teardrop is an ideal aerodynamic shape for an object placed on another surface. The aesthetically pleasing, 13.6m long box van Teardrop trailer bodywork follows the streamlining of a teardrop, and internal volume actually increases from 78 to 86m3; an additional 10%. The roof has a specially designed full-length curve, retaining a 4m height at the front to match the fleet DAF CFs and allowing a generous 2138mm rear aperture. The large radius cant rails too have been specially rolled to follow the roof shape. In addition, the top of the front bulkhead rakes forwards to reduce turbulence between the tractor and trailer whilst remaining within the swing clearance. Full-wrap GRP skirts have been specified which effectively manage the air under the chassis.
Due to its snag-free simplicity, the Teardrop has greater durability than other aerodynamic alternatives; retaining its fuel saving benefits throughout its life.
Saving Weight: Following successful trials, M&S has specified lightweight Technolite aluminium panelling, resulting in an unladen trailer weight of just 6860kgs; a saving of 640kgs in comparison to their existing trailers. Don-Burs 20mm thick Technolite panelling comprises a strong aluminium structure foil honeycomb core, faced with aluminium sheeting, a well proven product with excellent rigidity that has been in use in the aircraft industry for many years. It can be completely and cost-effectively recycled, does not deteriorate (even when damaged), is easy to repair and gives a smooth engineered finish; ideal for livery application.