Serco is in the process of refining its fitment techniques to an aerokit accessory for semi-trailers which has the capacity to save up to 7% fuel and significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The concept was originally launched in April this year at Serco’s Customer Breakfast roadshows which took place in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The introduction of the product to the market came about through a partnership between Serco and USA-based Freight Wing, a leading specialist in this field having supplied over 100 000 aerokits into the US market.
Known as the ‘˜Aeroflex’ system, it is described as the complete solution to trailer aerodynamics, combining skirts, gap and tail fairing.
The chief operations officer of Freightwing in the US, Coty Hollifield, was at the breakfasts where he delivered a presentation on the product which helps reduce wind drag under a trailer and is particularly suitable for vehicles travelling long distances.
Hollifield said that in independent testing, the side skirts have proven in the US to achieve savings of 7.45%, and as a result have grown in popularity as transporters look for a competitive edge.
Serco managing director Clinton Holcroft says the lightweight flexible plastic panels used in the side skirts are resilient in the event of contact with fixed objects, have a smooth finish providing an ideal surface for branding and have a potentially attractive payback.
It is well known that what is applicable overseas is not always suitable for our local conditions and it is thus that Freightwing arranged for a formal test to be done on a Serco trailer at Gerotek.
Conditions for the test were stringent and in line with parameters required in the United States. The process involved testing over a two day period where the variables such as tyre pressure, trailer and truck weight, driver habits, temperature and wind speed were all monitored so as to ensure that accurate readings of the fuel consumption could be measured with and without the Aeroflex skirts fitted.
At 80km/h, a minimum saving of 2,5% on fuel was achieved. “This is significant because such a saving results in a payback of less than 12 months,’ says Holcraft, adding that it was during these tests that they picked up some ideas to fine tune the fitment to achieve a result more in line with the proven fuel savings achieved in the USA.
Holcraft is not being overly ambitious and says that by refining the fitment techniques, they should be able to get close to our target of 5% fuel savings.
Serco has devised a return on investment calculator and loaded it on to their website to enable customers to get an idea of what sort of payback they could achieve with the Aeroflex fairings.