A cool change

With a view to expanding into different markets while ensuring optimised fleet utilisation, Mildura-based GTS Freight Management has recently commissioned two new Vawdrey insulated curtain-side B-double sets for its newly-formed temperature controlled freight division.

There’s a lot to be said for the curtain-side trailer concept in terms of versatility. For a start, it obviously has the ability to be loaded from the sides as well as the rear.

On top of that, when equipped with a fridge plant and the appropriate insulation in curtains, roof, floor, rear doors and front wall, it can be used for either chiller or ambient freight.

An added advantage over conventional refrigerated trailers is a significant reduction in tare weight, meaning more payload can be carried.

It’s this ultimate versatility that caught the attention of GTS Director, Damien Matthews, who runs a tight ship and is always on the lookout to expand into new markets while maintaining optimum productivity and fleet utilisation.

When Trailer spoke with Damien, he was quick to point out that the company’s operations revolve almost entirely around the versatility of the curtain-side B-double.

“Most of our work involves side loading and with this temperature-controlled work being a new thing for us, combined with the seasonality of produce and other associated freight, we can fill the gaps with our existing ambient and side load work,” he explains. “The goal is to be able to utilise these new refrigerated curtain-siders the whole year round.”

To a casual observer it might seem like a simple matter of installing a fridge plant on the front wall of a standard curtain-side trailer and away you go, but in actual fact nothing could be further from the truth.

These trailers have been purpose-built from the ground up as refrigerated units using the know-how Vawdrey has amassed from the production of its highly successful Iceliner range of hard-sided
temperature-controlled trailers.

As a result, these refrigerated curtain-siders have a high degree of thermal efficiency, a fact Damien vouches for, explaining that the new units have been keeping their cool in the sweltering operating environment of Far North Queensland in mid-summer.

“We’ve been using them to deliver groceries in the disaster relief effort following the recent floods in Queensland,” he says. “It’s been ideal conditions for trialling this new product in the middle of summer in total humidity to ensure it’s up to the task.

“We’ve been remotely monitoring the temperatures every day using Thermo King’s real-time data logging system,” he adds. “Our customers have been requesting a 2°C set point and we’ve been able to prove that they are consistently maintaining this temperature in high humidity and 40°C-plus conditions.”

Achieving this remarkable result in a curtain-side trailer is no mean feat and according to Vawdrey’s Director, Paul Vawdrey, it’s a great example of the company’s dedication to providing the best possible transport solutions for its clients.

“Our aim is to partner with our clients and find out exactly what they need, in terms of trailing equipment, and then deliver the goods,” Paul Vawdrey says. “We have been supplying GTS Freight Management with trailers for a long time and we look forward to continue to meet and preferably exceed their expectations well into the future.”

Apart from the obvious thermal efficiency target, Vawdrey had a few other challenges to meet in manufacturing the
temperature-controlled curtain-siders.

Perhaps one of the biggest asks was to allow for 34 pallet spaces while fitting into the 26-metre overall length dimension. Easy if the prime movers are cab-over, but GTS has purchased two 685hp Mack Super-Liners to haul the units in style.

Nevertheless, Vawdrey managed to pull it off with the help of some clever space-saving designs including flush panel rear doors which feature excellent thermal efficiency and a smooth outer surface ideal for graphics application. Also assisting are Thermo King slim-line SLXi fridge plants and TempTrack5 for remote monitoring of load space temperature.

Further enhancing thermal efficiency, the moulded fibreglass roof and front wall panels are produced using the same techniques as used with Vawdrey’s Iceliner fridge vans.

The ‘SuperStrap’ load restraint insulated curtains dispense with the need for side gates and feature a reverse weather seal at the bottom and double pelmet at the top.

An excellent safety feature when rear loading by forklift is pneumatically operated coaming barriers which pop up to a height of 300mm from the floor on both sides to prevent forklifts from accidentally driving off the sides of the trailer. They also reduce the likelihood of damage to the curtains when rear loading.

Speaking of rear loading, this is also possible with the lead trailer as it features a roll-back body with the battery powering the electro-hydraulic motor charged by the prime mover and fridge engine.

Rounding off the package are a full complement of BPW disc brakes featuring Wabco EBS (electronic braking system) and Alcoa alloy wheels shod with Michelin tyres.

With the two units now in operation, GTS Freight Management will be closely monitoring them to assess suitability for their chosen roles.