Ontario hauler rolls with lightweight, moving floor transfer trailers
Finding the "ten year trailer"
For those who regularly travel the Highway 401 corridor west of Toronto, Ontario, the recent influx of sleek aluminum transfer trailers painted with the words “Driven to Succeed” has been an unmistakable change in the local landscape.
The increased amount of these trailers on the 401 is a result of a recent deal between Titan Trailers and Ingersoll, Ontario-based Verspeeten Cartage. Verspeeten is well known in the area, principally as a full-load carrier with a history of providing service to automotive assembly plants throughout North America. In January of 2011, however, Verspeeten’s distinctive new trailers began to roll with 60 loads of municipal waste materials per day – hauling from Toronto to the City’s new Green Lane landfill site, located 120 miles west, near the City of London.
Verspeeten had taken on “trash” contracts in the past, but nothing on this scale. The Toronto contract required the purchase of 37 new moving floor trailers. For Scott Verspeeten, General Manager, making the decision to go with Titan for the new fleet was an easy one.
“We wanted a 10 year trailer,” Verspeeten said. “We didn’t go anywhere else.” Verspeeten was already familiar with Titan Trailers when Toronto released its tender for the Green Lane project. Established in 1953 and now operating a fleet of more than 1,400 units, his firm first began hauling waste materials from Toronto to Michigan in 1998.
Titan, who is also headquartered in southern Ontario, has made a name for itself in the waste and recycling industry with its patented THINWALL body construction – which is based on a lightweight, interlocking, extruded aluminum panel designed by the company’s President, Mike Kloepfer. In 2003, Verspeeten bought its first Titan trailer, but opted at the time for their traditional steel post and panel unit.
Changes in the business
“Trailer weight was not so important then as it is now,” explains Verspeeten. “We simply ordered the Titan equipment to match the other traditional transfer trailers in our fleet.”
By the time of the Green Lane tender, though, the business profile had changed. At the old Michigan landfill, trailers unloaded on a tipper stand and the site maintained a clear lane to the tipper. At the new landfill, the trailers simply drive over the trash to their designated unloading area to self-unload with a moving floor.
More importantly, Verspeeten’s customers are now paying its contractors by the truckload, not by weight. They demand maximum weights on every load, so the payload capacity of the trailer became a significant factor in Verspeeten’s bid.
For Verspeeten, the highway distances, the site conditions and the payload requirements all weighed in favour of Titan’s THINWALL trailers. The extruded panel of the THINWALL body is assembled horizontally, allowing the trailer to resist twisting stresses as it flexes over uneven ground. Plus, the all-aluminum body achieves significant weight reductions while the extruded hollow-core panel allows higher cubic capacity than traditional post and panel trailers. With the new trailers, Verspeeten says he can deliver on the customers’ goal of maximizing the amount of materials moved in every load.
At the transfer station
At the Toronto transfer station, Verspeeten’s closed-top trailers are loaded using compactors that can add severe stresses to the sidewalls and bulkheads. But Verspeeten is confident that the Titan THINWALL body can take the compaction stresses and still live out the 10 year span he requires for his business plan.
“The bulkheads were bowing under the pressure,” he notes, “but they returned to form as soon as the load came off. There was no stress cracking we could see at all.”
Since the initial runs, Verspeeten has been working with the transfer station operators to moderate compaction pressures and to distribute loads more evenly.
“Compaction amplifies any irregularities in loading,” he continues. “Too much wet material concentrated at the front can get us into trouble at the scales. We’ve had great cooperation to make the project work for everyone.”
Getting it right the first time
While the Titan THINWALL body offers inherent advantages for waste haul applications, Verspeeten also found that Titan and their local dealer, Titan Trailer Sales of Brantford, Ontario, were willing and knowledgeable partners in developing the best trailer for their particular requirements.
“We wanted a flawless start,” says Verspeeten. “Our plan was to buy one early, to run it through the Spring and Summer, monitor results in our shop and give the feedback to Titan before the new trailers went into production.”
Titan supplied a prototype to test out the design on the loading areas of the transfer stations and landfills served by Verspeeten. To ensure consistent reporting to the maintenance and engineering group, Verspeeten assigned one driver to pull the test trailer.
As Verspeeten recalls, “Mike Kloepfer Titan’s President and members of the Titan design team came right down to the loading facilities with us to see how our trailers were getting loaded. They looked at the ramps and the scales. The people from Titan Trailer Sales, Rob Janiec and Gary Luska, were there too. We appreciated that they all made so much effort to make sure we had what we needed.
“Mike Kloepfer, he’s not your typical owner,” said Verspeeten. “He gets right in there. He’s very hands-on and, you can tell. It flows down through his management and all his people. They’re all the same. Getting it right was as important to them as it was to us.”
Making good ideas better
One result of the trial run was a design update to Titan’s recently launched Paramax steering axle suspension. Titan developed the Paramax system specifically for off-road requirements, but the Verspeeten driver reported that at some of the transfer stations, the steering axles were still rubbing over the ground while in the lift position as the trailer rolled through a hole. Titan modified the axles with longer shocks and switched to low profile super single tires, providing the Paramax suspension with 10 inches of up-travel. With the new design, Verspeeten says they have seen no issues with air bag damage or tire wear.
Titan also experimented with their design ideas in an effort to improve fuel efficiency, durability and overall profitability before Verspeeten gave the go-ahead to build the next 36 trailers.
“Sometimes, they would see issues before we did, and came right in to make a change,” says Verspeeten. “They suggested the KEITH V-Floor unloader to us, as well as the lighting, plumbing, aluminum rims, landing gear and running gear... and they coordinated our meetings with the different suppliers to help us finalize our selection and specs."
“It’s all the higher end stuff that will last the life of the trailer. When you look in the back at that V-Floor, you can see it – that’s going to be one tough floor!”
“They changed the back door to suit different compactors,” continues Verspeeten.
“Their idea for an aerodynamic roofline didn’t work out for us, because all our company tractors have deflectors – but then one of our owner-operators asked us specially for that trailer because, without a deflector, it was saving him a lot of diesel.”
Running with the 10 year trailer
The final configuration chosen for Veerspeeten’s contract is a 51-foot, 5-axle trailer with IMT SmartSteer axles on a Paramax suspension, and with a KEITH extreme-duty V9 model V-Floor self-unloader system. Verspeeten claims that his drivers agree with the company’s choice.
“They’re on the 401 about 90 percent of their time. They say sometimes they don’t even think the trailer is back there. There are some hills along the route where they know they usually have to downshift. But with these trailers, they don’t even have to drop a gear, and they’re hauling maybe three or four tons more than the old trailers.”
“After seeing how these work, I wouldn’t think of buying anything else. Knowing what they can do, and all their help to get this job started, it will really help us to bid competitively next time. We’ve got our 10 year trailer – and our customer is getting the heavy weights they require.”