Manfredi Motor Transit Gains Safety And Payload with Prototype Transport

MANFREDI Motor Transit Company is testing two low-profile Freightliner Century Class C112 tractors in combination with two low-profile, low-tare tank trailers built by Polar Tank Trailer Inc.

Equipped with weight-saving components and the latest safety features, the tractor-trailer combinations are the result of a joint effort by Manfredi, Freightliner, and Polar. Freightliner and Polar are the carrier's primary tractor and tank trailer manufacturers.

Manfredi says the transports have been engineered to haul higher bulk payloads and feature the latest technology to promote driver safety and comfort. In June, the units began hauling high-fructose corn syrup for Cargill Inc from Ohio to manufacturers of beverages, candy, and baked goods in New York.

"The tractors and trailers are designed for maximum safety and maximum payloads," says Michael von Mayenburg, Freightliner senior vice-president of engineering and technology. "The close collaboration between engineers at Freightliner and Polar Tank on this project represents an unusual effort between truck manufacturer and tank trailer builder combining forces to develop a safe and cost-effective combination for bulk transport."

Richard Manfredi, Manfredi president, describes the collaboration as a marriage of talent and technology. He says the lower tare weight of the tractor-trailer combination lets his company increase payloads by 10 percent with a rig that still meets 80,000-pound gross combination weight limits. Tractor and trailer have a combined empty weight of approximately 25,000 pounds. The unladen tractor weighs 15,020 pounds, and the unladen tanker scales 10,170 pounds.

Because of the lower tractor chassis height, the transport has a lower center of gravity and a higher resistance to vehicle roll-over, the companies say. Roll stability is improved by 14 percent compared to a standard tractor and tanker in bulk applications.

"This represents a significant improvement in safety for a bulk operator," von Mayenburg says. The low center of gravity allows the truck to safely negotiate tighter curves than a truck with a standard height at the same speed.

Project Goals Manfredi Motor Transit had two primary goals for the project. "The first goal was to make the safest possible vehicle we could put on the highway for our drivers," Manfredi says. "These trucks incorporate more safety advances than our current units."

The carrier also wanted to maximize payload possibilities for its tanker fleet. "This will allow us to haul a lot more cargo," he says. "Our normal payload maxes out between 48,000 and 50,000 pounds.

"We'll have payloads bumping 55,000 pounds. The 10 percent differential gives us a competitive and economic advantage. We can price a little higher for the same trip. It also allows us to incorporate as many safety features as we can on the vehicles."

Manfredi executives began working with Freightliner and Polar engineers on the project in July 1996. "We wanted to design the truck and trailer in conjunction with each other," Manfredi says. "We wound up designing a couple of tractors and trailers that will probably be the basic equipment spec for our future units. If this works out like we expect, we'll haul more payload in a safer manner."

Century Class Specifications The C112 tractors have the low-ride chassis option that Freightliner introduced for Century Class trucks in 1996. It provides a 40-inch fifthwheel height-eight inches lower than standard-as well as low-profile Michelin XZA Pilot 285 radial tires mounted on 19.5-inch Alcoa aluminum wheels.

The option incorporates the Freightliner Low-Ride AirLiner rear suspension, which uses lightweight components and smaller brackets to decrease chassis weight.

To emphasize safety on the road, the C112s were spec'd with an Electronic Braking System (EBS) that Freightliner will offer as a factory option later this year only on Century Class vehicles.

Designed by Freightliner and Rockwell WABCO, the truck brake system has automatic deceleration control, equalized brake balance between tractor and trailer, brake fade compensation, faster air brake actuation, and an integrated antilock brake and traction control system with engine torque control.

"You should never apply more torque to the wheels than you can transfer to the tire-to-road interface," says Tony Moore, manager, Freightliner engineering chassis. "If you have too much torque on a slippery surface, for example, you lose traction because the wheel spins. Torque control from the EBS reduces engine power to the rear wheels."

The C112s feature Freightliner's industry-first SPACE (seat-pretensioning-active-crash enhancement) system, an advanced occupant restraint system that automatically tensions the seat belt in a crash or roll-over situation. It also lowers the driver's seat away from the roof and steering wheel within milliseconds.

Later in the year, an advanced Eaton/VORAD collision warning radar system will be installed on each tractor. It alerts the driver to slow-moving or stopped vehicles up to 350 feet ahead of the truck.

A side sensor detects vehicles in the blind spot at the right side of the vehicle. Each tractor has a driverside air bag, an option that will be available this fall on Century Class Freightliners.

In an effort to meet the information needs of some customers, Manfredi has equipped the trucks with the OmniTRACS satellite communications system by Qualcomm. Manfredi has been using satellite tracking for a number of years, and it has improved efficiency and communication.

Satellite tracking enables Manfredi customers to accurately pinpoint the location of their shipments en route. In addition, drivers can be notified quickly when delivery requirements change.

For economical operation, the tractors are equipped with Detroit Diesel Series 55 engines rated for 365 horsepower at 1800 rpm. The diesels generate 1,450 ft-lb of torque at 1100 rpm.

Tank Trailer Specifications Polar Tank built the 5,500-gallon tank trailers with a polished aluminum outer jacket for significant weight savings. Additional weight savings come from specifying aluminum 19.5-inch wheels, low profile tires, lighter axles and a pump system designed with lightweight mounting brackets and hoses. The inner bottle of the tanker is stainless steel, a standard Polar specification for tank integrity.

The saved weight allows Manfredi to haul an extra 5,000 pounds of corn syrup per trip with a total payload of just under 5,000 gallons. "We tried to identify weight savings in every possible aspect of the tractor and trailer," Manfredi says. "By increasing the payload 10 percent, there is significant savings for customers on both ends of the route. It cuts down on shipping and receiving time, and we'll be able to earn a few more bucks per load."

Improved Driver Conditions The project's third goal was to improve working conditions for Manfredi drivers. Although the trucks are day cabs, they have all the recognized comfort and convenience factors designed into Century Class tractors. Drivers on the dedicated corn syrup route work in an ergonomically designed air-suspended cab. The angles of the hood and the windshield are redesigned for additional visibility.

Fresh air continually circulates through the cab to increase the alertness of drivers. Repositioning of the driver seat four inches toward the center of the cab provides more shoulder room for drivers. Cup holders and a trash basket are built into the dash. Low-glow lights underneath the dash illuminate the floor of the cab. Toggle switches on the dash are made from a softer plastic material that reduces the possibility of injury to drivers in the event of a sudden stop.

Two drivers are assigned to each truck, which runs 800 to 900 miles a day. Drivers work a regular schedule that gets them back home every day.

The first driver leaves the Newberry terminal, picks up the load in Dayton and returns to Newberry. The second driver delivers the load to customers in New York and brings the empty trailer back to Newberry.

Each driver has less than 10 hours of driving time. The carrier believes the routing strategy is another way for the industry to cope with the continuing shortage of available drivers.

"There's a driver shortage out there," Manfredi says. "If our company can offer a safe vehicle, the opportunity to earn a good paycheck, and a work schedule that gets drivers home every night, we feel we'll have a happy employee."

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