A trailerworld interview on innovations in the trailer industry and the challenges for the future, with Dr. Frank Sager and Bernhard Rossenbach.
18 Issue One 2010 In the case of trailers, the progress seems to be piecemeal, at least that is how the observ- er sees it. What will be the contribution from semi- and drawbar trailers for the transport of the future? Sager: Even in the future, the tare weight will be the focus. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions will need to be monitored. Both are dependent on the chassis. In general, the driving resistance must be minimised. And, as always, the weight of the individual com- ponents plays an important part here. A spe- cial consideration will be given to safety. Because the public will not accept it in the long run if HGVs are a greater danger than motor cars or motorcyclists. We are work- ing closely on this to advance the state of technology. trailerworld: While the commercial vehicle industry holds visionary discussions concern- ing the great innovations which tomorrow will bring, they prefer to limit themselves to a policy of small steps, instead of far-reach- ing progress. Don’t they have the courage for great deeds? Bernhard Rossenbach: There I must immediately contradict you: particularly in the commercial vehicle sector, we are seeing many innovations, which may not be seen as such in the public eye. But if we compare the efficiency of today’s commercial vehicles with vehicles of the previous generation, sig- nificant progress becomes apparent. For ex- ample, compare the load ratio to the overall weight – the technicians have achieved good work here. Progress cannot be achieved with just one technology, many small steps result in a large stride. Dr. Frank Sager: There are two aspects that need to be considered: on the one hand, the long product cycles in the commercial sector and, on the other, the long life of trail- ers and tractors, which can be more than 15 years. Until new technologies have gained ac- ceptance, it is inevitable that a few years go by. In any case, the discerning commercial vehicle operator expects a definite advantage from every innovation. What are the goals of the commercial vehicle industry? And in particular for the semi- and drawbar trailer manufacturer? Sager: It is always about bringing goods from A to B at the lowest possible cost. In other words, reduce the tare weight and diminish costs. Here, we are not talking about reducing the purchase price of the vehicles but the overall operating costs per fleet kilo- metre. Rossenbach: Today, a trailer is a link in a logistics chain. One that guarantees, for in- stance, that the car manufacturer receives his car seats just in time, and for burger fast-food restaurants, primary products are delivered into the deep-freeze warehouse at a reliable minus 24°, monitored by satellite and exactly conform to customer specifications. A deeper integration of the commercial vehicle into the logistics process is required – here, the poten- tial has not yet been exhausted. Interview »It inevitably takes years for new technologies to make their mark.« »Revolutionary leaps are difficult to predict« Sceptics criticise the restrained willingness to make progress in the HGV industry, which in turn is proud of its innovations that are not always visible at first glance. Interview with experts.