Saving Weight While Raising Durability and Capacity on The Composite Dry Freight Vans
Several newly available options for Great Dane The Composite dry freight vans can provide a weight savings for fleets hauling heavy loads, while also boosting durability and floor load capacity. Already offering strength and durability in a high cubic capacity vehicle, The Composite is becoming available with a new heavy-duty bottom rail and other options that reduce weight while potentially increasing floor ratings.
The new Heavy-Duty Bottom Rail (HBR) option for The Composite is a 21-inch high, one-piece aluminum extrusion that not only replaces the standard 11-inch high bottom rail but eliminates the need for a 6-inch integral steel scuffband inside the trailer. The advantage of the taller bottom rail is that it adds rigidity and strength to the trailer's structure, leading to less flexing—especially when trailers are lifted onto rail cars in intermodal operations.
The result is reduced sidewall bulging, which means less damage to composite sidewalls. Also, the taller bottom rail acts as a scuff-band, providing protection from forklift damage during loading and unloading operations. Additionally, the aluminum bottom rail, if damaged, can be repaired more easily than sidewall panels.
While replacing The Composite's standard bottom rail and steel scuffband with the higher base rail maintains the trailer's empty weight, the added strength this design provides offers the ability to cut weight in several ways. Included is the use of shorter sidewall panels as well as lighter weight wall construction.
In the standard design, for example, The Composite features a heavier combination of materials required to sustain impact and loading damage in the lower zone of the trailer. With the heavy-duty bottom rail adding rigidity to the sidewalls and removing panels in the lower impact zone, lighter weight panel construction can be installed above the scuffband. The upper zone above the scuffband does not sustain impact as frequently where light weight panels are a better choice to save weight.
Other design changes on The Composite are saving weight as well. Those include revisions to the rear frame and the use of composite panels in front walls, eliminating the need for interior front wall linings. In addition, a Havco composite floor and aluminum crossmembers in place of steel, despite the extra crossmembers required, add up to lower weight.
All of this being accomplished by Great Dane while also potentially raising the floor rating on The Composite about 20 percent using TTMA testing, under the association's RP-3702, which is currently underway to validate that specification.
The new Heavy-Duty Bottom Rail option and lighter, yet stronger options for The Composite dry freight van are ready to benefit customers, such as those in the beverage industry and other haulers with frequent heavy floor loads.