Innovation exchange

Oct. 1, 2006
TANK FLEET managers attending Heil Trailer International's 2006 Innovation Exchange heard reports on a number of product enhancements intended to boost

TANK FLEET managers attending Heil Trailer International's 2006 Innovation Exchange heard reports on a number of product enhancements intended to boost productivity and improve driver safety. Representatives for the tank trailer builder also discussed concepts that are still under consideration.

The first-time event was held August 15 and 16 at the Heil Tank Service branch in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to fleet managers, the program was attended by tank trailer dealers and many of the vendors that supply Heil with tank components and services.

Ron Humphreys, Heil Trailer International, reviewed changes in the 2007 base specification for DOT406 petroleum trailers. Wording on a few basic items has been condensed. Model listings have been condensed, but the trailers are still configurable.

Indicator rods will be omitted as standard equipment, largely because most customers already were deleting them on the linesheets, Humphreys said. Front-mounted ladders with internal drains will be standard on petroleum trailers. Roll stability will be standard on all Heil trailers.

Also standard on Heil trailers starting with the 2007 models are dressed axles with best-in-class components. This includes the Hendrickson Intraax air suspension system, Haldex automatic slack adjusters, and extended service brakes.

“Making this change shortens lead times for us, Humphreys said. “Warranty coverage is increased with the component package we assembled.”

Fender shift

Heil plans to stop making its own aluminum fenders. A third-party vendor will supply them in the future. The tank trailer builder also plans to offer Nuline plastic fenders. “We believe the tank trailer market will go with plastic fenders in the future,” Humphreys said.

Moving the cargo handling system, Humphreys said that Heil is considering as standard equipment Civacon's CivaControl Air System that provides a central point for managing the sequencing and operation of compartment vents, vapor recovery valves, manifolds, internal valves, overfill protection, and trailer brake interlocks.

The pre-assembled CivaControl unit is compact and can be mounted virtually anywhere on the tank trailer. It is expandable and can control up to eight compartments.

Heil is switching to Peterson's Maxi Seal lighting and wiring system. The plug-and-play system addresses corrosion more effectively and has good parts availability and a longer warranty, according to Humphreys.

Finally, he turned to the compatibility of Heil tank trailers with the new fuels that are entering the market. He said that Heil officials are hopeful that the rollout of ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) will be a non-event. “We are optimistic that petroleum haulers will be able to handle the switch, and we will all be able to go on with our lives,” he said.

Representatives from Civacon said they believe there are still some handling issues for ULSD. They predicted that many petroleum haulers would need dedicated trailers for the fuel.

On the biofuel side, Heil is building insulated DOT406 aluminum tankers just for biodiesel. “We're seeing a lot of interest in these trailers,” Humphreys said.

Ethanol and gasoline blends with ethanol can damage elastomer seals in valves, according to Rich Smith with Dixon/Bayco. Those seals must be replaced with products, such as Dixon Bayco's Baylast seals, that are more resistant to ethanol. In addition, some fleets are installing sight glasses that are more resistant to discoloration.

Dry bulk trailers

Robert Lane with Heil Trailer International discussed the latest changes for the manufacturer's dry trailers. He said that driver safety is a priority issue. Strategies include using technology to keep drivers off the trailers or provide a work area with fall protection.

Technology being tested by Heil to keep drivers on the ground includes outfitting dry bulkers with Knappco's new remote-powered manhole cover. Salco's three-way load diverter also gives drivers greater control over the cargo handling process from the ground.

For fall protection, Heil redesigned the work platform on top of its dry bulkers. Some Heil customers have installed the TRAM fall restraint system from Standfast USA.

Heil's research and development program also has focused on efforts to make dry bulkers lighter and more durable. End frames have been redesigned for reduced weight and greater strength.

Lifecycle costs are being reduced through the use of .199 aluminum sheet vessels with circumferential seams. Hoppers and cones are being fabricated from spun heavy-duty alloy. Manufacturing processes have been simplified for components such as platform assemblies.

Heil is making a number of changes in standard product upgrades on the dry bulk trailers, according to Lane. Included are extended-warranty wheel ends, Haldex automatic slack adjusters and brake chambers with extended service brakes, backlit gauges, and auto-dump valves.

Additional component changes being considered for the cement trailer offerings include raised-center axles and aluminum wheel hubs for the Cementer and Mid-West 1040. Heil also is studying front blow down for the Cementer.