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Content archived on 2024-06-10

Development and construction of a lightweight chassisless semi-trailer


Road transport is by far the most important form of transport for goods in the EC and is expected to grow by 25% within the next 15 years. This growth is in conflict with the environmental awareness within the EC. Therefore a number of innovations are needed in the road transport business. Amongst the development of more fuel efficient and cleaner engines for trucks, also new innovations in the present semi-trailers are needed to lower the pollution by road transport. This project aims at the development and construction of a new lightweight multi-functional semi-trailer that meets the transport demands for the future: high pay-load and high utilization. The realization of these demands will not only lead to an improved competitiveness of the European transport business but will also lead to environmental benefits since less rides are needed for the same amount of freight. Innovations in the present semi-trailer concept that can serve this task are:
A reduction of the nett tar weight
An increase of the inner volume
The introduction of multi-functionality The fulfilment of these objectives requires the introduction of innovative integrated design methodologies (e.g. CAD/CAM and CAE) and novel manufacturing concepts. The global approach of this cooperative research project is therefore to make use of materials and processes that allow for the integration of system and structural functions. At this moment most of today's semi-trailers are based on a heavy steel chassis on which an (insulated) box is mounted. Recently also chassisless concepts based on a aluminium beam structures have emerged (see front page photograph), which resulted in a reduction of weight but at the expense of assembling costs. The aim of this research is to replace these two (heavy / labour intensive) concepts by one large monolithic self-supporting structure in which the box becomes the primary structural component. Such a trailer concept can be achieved by making use of lightweight design concepts based on sandwich structures and composite materials as commonly used in the aircraft industry. Moreover, in the case of foam-cored sandwiches such concept will fulfill both mechanical and thermal requirements, meaning that semi-trailers build according to these concepts can serve both the non-conditioned and conditioned transport markets. Besides, benefits for end-users as result of more efficient transport means, these innovations will also improve the competitiveness of the entire European trailer industry due to more efficient manufacturing methodologies and reduced assembling costs. In this cooperative research project the complete 'chain of supply' from raw material suppliers to end-user is involved. The finished prototype closed box semi-trailer will be evaluated on its structural performance but also on its multi-functionality, i.e its capability of serving multi-client transport.

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Talson BV
EU contribution
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16,Collse Hoefdijk
5670 AA Nuenen

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Participants (14)