Features & Interviews Trailer

Feature: Interview with Lionel Curtis at Cartwright

12 August 2015 #Features & Interviews #Trailer

Transport News Brief speaks to Lionel Curtis, Technical Director at Cartwright about safety testing of its products.

If a curtainsider trailer sheds its load all over the motorway then neither the police nor other road users are likely to be impressed. As a consequence prudent operators are likely to do everything they can to prevent such a distressing event occurring; and that may involve specifying curtainsiders that meet the voluntary EN12642-XL standard.

It indicates the ability of the superstructure to retain loads – and while the standard is not mandatory, curtainsiders without the distinctive logo that turn up at certain sites on the Continent are likely to be turned away on safety grounds.

A number of UK trailer manufacturers have tested their products to EN12642-XL including Don-Bur, SDC, Lawrence David and Cartwright.

One approach to EN testing is to use a dynamic regime which involves acceleration and braking tests and taking the laden trailer through S-bends and around a series of roundabouts. Another is to employ a static test and it is one that is favoured by Cartwright Group Technical Director, Lionel Curtis, because it imposes a greater load.

A static test typically involves mounting a hefty steel frame inside the trailer’s body – rigids bodied as curtainsiders can be tested to the EN standard too – attaching large airbags, then inflating them to see how far the curtains billow out. The test imposes a load on the front and rear of the trailer as well.

“We carried out the EN test ourselves then had it carried out again at an independent site used to test marine containers and witnessed by the Vehicle Certification Agency,” said Curtis.

The EN standard will undergo some minor modifications which come into effect next January. “We’re talking bits and pieces of detail, nothing more than that,” he says.

While Curtis is undoubtedly pleased that Cartwright products such as the new Acclaro curtainsider meet EN’s requirements, but observes some drawbacks. “The problem is it does not test the entire product,” he observes.

It does not for example address the strength of the trailer’s floor. Cartwright has tested floors to ISO1496 which involves imposing a 7,620kg axle load.

“We roll a heavy trolley up and down the floor five times to simulate the weight of a really heavy forklift truck. Then we measure the floor’s deflection.”

Cartwright curtainside trailer with Union flag livery

The tests are carried out in response to supermarket concerns over the extent of trailer floor wear. There is of course also the worry that having a forklift fall straight through a weak floor half-way through loading or unloading is likely to result in injury to the forklift driver and spark a health and safety inquiry; and may result in the company concerned being prosecuted.

Employees may also be injured if the trailer’s floor is slippery and Cartwright can carry out a slipperiness test. “It involves a pendulum with a shoe on the bottom which measures the level of energy absorbed,” he said.

Accelerated durability tests are important too, because customers want to know how long the products they have acquired will last.

Again, they’re not mandatory. “It’s questionable how many trailers you would sell however if such tests were not carried out,” he remarks.

All Cartwright products of course comply with European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval.

Many standards only work if hauliers take them into account during day-to-day operations. To comply with EN12642-XL the load must be butted up against the headboard and the back of the curtainsider and kept a certain distance – 80mm from the curtains.

If part of the cargo is unloaded half-way through the delivery run, then the rearmost pallets must be strapped across in such a way that the entire consignment is kept together; so it’s down to the haulier, and of course the driver, to ensure this is done.

Business is booming at Altrincham, Cheshire-based Cartwright at present, with the new Acclaro curtainsider, which is constructed on a purpose-built production line, in receipt of an order from Ryder.

It has ordered more than 300 new trailers from Cartwright including 200 standard 4.2m pillarless curtainsiders, 50 curtainsiders with tail-lifts and nine curtainsiders with Manitou forklift carriers.

“Acclaro weighs 6.5 tonnes so it is well-optimised for operation at 44 tonnes and comes with a welded I-beam and cold-rolled steel side raves and cant rails,” said Curtis. “It’s fitted with either BPW or SAF running gear, a new front pick up plate cover has been installed and it features a new, full-width, aerodynamic treatment for the front bulkhead.

“It has an arched roof as well and can be fitted with a vortex generator at the back,” he adds. Both these features should help keep fuel usage down and minimise the customer’s carbon footprint.

“It comes with the Cartwright pedigree too,” he states.  And in his view, not surprisingly, that has to be a major selling point.


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