Nov 2004 - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal
Time saving Truck Box
A new side loading/dumping truck box—offering considerable time savings in loading and unloading—is creating interest in the industry.
By Jim Stirling
Consider this scenario: A truck and two box trailers transport a load of wood pellets from Prince George to tidewater at Vancouver in British Columbia. Instead of coming back empty after the long haul, it diverts to the Greater Vancouver Regional District to pick up waste materials for disposal at the Cache Creek landfill. After unloading there, it takes a cargo of hog fuel to the co-generation plant in Williams Lake. From the laketown, it picks up a load of chips for a pulp mill in Prince George and the final leg home. That kind of versatility and flexibility is not fantasy. Add in the ability to load and unload the boxes from the side by fork lift—including long loads—and dumping rapidly (depending on the load) by simply hydraulically tilting the box sideways, and the real possibilities begin to grow. A unit offering those advantages was on display at the recent Forest Expo show in Prince George.
It was presented by John Swaan, a Prince George entrepreneur with Pellet Flame Inc, a company which converts wood residues to high energy, eco-friendly fuel. Swaan was first introduced to the side dumping box concept a few years ago while travelling in Sweden on Pellet Flame business. With experience in the trucking business, he was quick to recognize its merit. “I’ve got to take a look at this,” he recalls thinking when encountering a side dump unit hauling chips on a Swedish highway. “I followed him to the pulp mill and with that side dumping capability he was in and out of there in four minutes. There was no hanging around waiting.”
End dumping chip trailers at Canada’s pulp mills is visually impressive, but there’s considerable waiting around involved, and the equipment making it work is high maintenance, says Swaan. As soon as the Swedish driver dumped his chips, he went to a location close to the pulp mill and picked up a load of packaged goods. “I saw them put a Volvo in one of them,” adds Swaan. The boxes have tiedowns for securing conventional cargos. Swaan set about doing some homework. He calculated there were significant cycle time and volume gain improvement potentials with side dumping systems.
It was some time after the boxes arrived in Prince George that Bill Barnes became involved with the project. He designed and fabricated a B-train set of trailers upon which to install the side dumping trailer boxes. Barnes runs ABY-2 Enterprises in Prince George, a company specializing in designing upgrades to equipment. He’s one of those people who thrives on problem solving and making things function more efficiently in a specific application. Barnes says the trailers have a 14,000 kilogram payload and offer several benefits to a trucking contractor. Faster unloading means more productive time hauling the load. He says a side dump box takes about two minutes to unload, while a live floor unit might take 20 minutes.
Volumes are larger with a B train at 61 feet and live floor trailers at 53 feet. And then there’s the ability to transport anything from lumber to groceries on a back haul. Swaan approached Hoglunds, a manufacturer of the side dumping boxes. “I convinced them to build a kit, a jigsaw, and we’ll put the chassis and configurations on what we have to work with here.” Swaan and Hoglunds have a licensing agreement with the Swedish company supplying the technology and engineering details for the units.
Barnes explains that the side dumping process is operated from within the truck by four two-way switches mounted on the dashboard. A protective tarp is cable rolled hydraulically from the top of each box. The side door is opened and raised to act as a roof when unloading with a fork lift or for tilting and dumping. It’s hydraulically locked into position. The box can be hydraulically tilted sideways at about a 45 degree angle. Barnes estimates there’s about a 60 per cent slope on the inside of the box. Material can be dumped in a single pile or manipulated into a windrow, for example. The floor of the boxes is wooden and the walls are constructed of light, strong fibreglass, he adds.
ABY-2’s customized trailers feature an air ride chassis made from QT100 steel and they have ABS brakes and low profile tires. Barnes says floor material and tire types could be changed if specified by a customer. “We have to make it work in their world.” Neither Swaan nor Barnes harbour any illusions about introducing a different concept to this marketplace. “There was a lot of skeptical interest—curiosity—in the unit at Forest Expo,” reports Swaan. “People want to watch it perform.” Adds Barnes: “It always takes time in any market to change attitudes. People get used to doing things in a certain way. It’s part of the growing pains that will take place.”
The side dumping trailers were working for Pellet Flame. Barnes says the plan is to promote the concept and see what interest there might be from large, established trailer manufacturers in North America. “It’s too good a concept to let die,” says Barnes. “If the big guys aren’t interested, we’ll think about setting up shop and fabricating them here in Prince George,” says Swaan.
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