The Importance of Automatic Spoiler Adjustment
Posted 12 Nov 2019
With rising fuel costs at the top of every fleet operators list, we explore the importance of not only a great aerodynamic set up for HGV’s but why automatic spoiler adjustment systems, such as LaserEye, are playing a huge role in reducing costs and also improving operator safety.
Truck aerodynamics is not a new or radical idea, it’s a fairly standard industry knowledge that a large, tall trailer coupled to a tractor unit with a relatively small air management kit leaves a huge area of the trailer bulk head exposed to oncoming airflow and thus increasing the drag on the vehicle significantly which in turn leads to higher fuel consumption. Independent studies have shown that just 200mm of exposed bulk head can potentially increase a vehicles fuel consumption by 3%.
A large number of fleets are increasingly installing air management to their vehicles for this reason. Whilst this is a great step forward to reducing fuel costs and a fleets overall carbon footprint it is not necessarily the end of the story. The main issue with "traditional" air management is the adjustment system for the roof mounted spoiler. Now, let's not completely write off manual adjusting air management or the concept as a whole, quite yet (could be bad for business!). Sure, if as an operator your trucks are always hooked up to the same trailer and the vehicle height rarely changes, then a manual adjusting spoiler will work perfectly for you. Similarly if your fleet is made up predominantly rigid or low level vehicles then there is simply no need to install even a manual adjusting kit, a fixed spoiler will do the job!
However, in the ever changing and need to be increasingly flexible world of long distance haulage, the chances of your vehicles being hooked up to the same sized trailer (or even shipping container) for each trip becomes less and less likely. That's where Automatic Spoiler Adjustment systems (LaserEye) really come into their own and show their importance to operators.
Let's take the obvious benefits first; from a fleet / transport managers point of view a system which is totally autonomous, requires no input from the driver whatsoever, which completely takes care of a vehicle aerodynamic set up, offering the absolute optimum drag / fuel efficiency for the specific vehicle set up at the time is extremely clear. It undoubtedly saves money. In-fact, most operators report fuel savings when using our LaserEye system, coupled with a high volume iAM air management kit of above 20%.
According to John Leonard, Transport Manager at Sheard Packaging - “The combination of (Renault's) Optifleet and the new Range Ts, which are equipped with the latest technology and Kuda variable air deflectors and trailers, has seen our fleet’s fuel efficiency increase by a mighty 2-3mpg compared to the first 2014 Range Ts.”
Ok, so fuel efficiency is clear, however the other benefits not often considered regarding Automatic spoiler adjustment systems come in the way of driver retention and safety. Let's create a theoretical situation here - It's Friday afternoon in December, you're over 4 hours from home on the dockside just having loaded your last high-cube container of the week, it's throwing it down outside with strong gusts of wind. Oh dear, your roof spoiler is only set at 4 meters, but this container is 4.2 meters tall. Are you going to climb out of your nice warm cab, onto the back of the chassis and adjust the spoiler? No! Of course you're not. It's only a 3% increase on fuel consumption and you only have 200 miles to home, plus it's not safe, who wants to be clambering over a chassis in the wind and the rain.
Well, with LaserEye being 100% automatic, you can be in exactly the same situation, and even before you leave the docks LaserEye will have detected the height of the trailer, activated the actuator rams and set the spoiler to it's optimum height for the journey. No climbing to adjust the spoiler, no risk of injury and saving that 3% in fuel for the trip.
We keep talking about 3%, let's put it into monetary terms, based on a vehicle running 100,000 miles a year with an annual fuel bill of around £53,000, that 3% is a whopping £1590! That's just for a 200mm gap from the top of the vehicles spoiler to the top of the trailer. With most vehicles being 4 meters and under and a large majority of trailers in the UK being up to 4.6, even 4.8 meters. That 200mm quickly becomes 600mm or even 800mm meaning some operators fuel costs could be in excess of £6000 higher than they need to be! Multiply that by a fleet of 10, 20 even 100 vehicles then it's easy to see why ensuring your fleets roof spoilers are set at the optimum height as often as possible.
For more information on LaserEye or our iAM Air Management Kits for almost every make and model of truck please click on the links.
Our in-house experts are always on hand to speak to you about your current aerodynamic set up and how we can potentially aid in saving you fuel, please call our fleet sales team on 01449 744174 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will leave you with one final thought, which we are sure is in your mind - How much does this all cost. Well, a top air management kit (to suit existing factory uprights), equipped with LaserEye comes in at around £1500.00. Sounds a lot? Look at it this way, if you are only 200mm adrift for the year, your fuel costs can increase by over £1590, so within the first year, you've paid for the kit and have enough for a nice dinner to celebrate! But, if you're (which is likely) 600mm adrift, those fuel costs could be as high as £4770 over what they need to be, take over the cost of the kit and you have a return on your investment in just over 17 weeks!
NDby News Desk