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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  17 May 2010

TRANSPORT: New 38-Ton Tanker Sets Benchmark


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SPECIALIST tanker-trailer manufacture, CA Muller Fabrication recently launched South Africa’s first fully legal 38-ton super-tanker, designed to carry Dangerous Goods (DG) and food-grade products. The tanker was commissioned by Stellenbosch-based alcoholic beverage producer, Distell, which subcontracts its tanker haulage to United Bulk.

According to United Bulk’s managing director, Patrick Pols, its mandate from Distell was to provide a tanker capable of carrying significantly more payload than the industry norm of 34-tons.

As United Bulk’s preferred tanker supplier, CA Muller Fabrication was awarded the contract to design and build the new tanker according to stringent ADR (Agreement on Dangerous Goods by Road) specifications.

The ADR standards for road tanker design were drafted in Europe but extend to South Africa and apply to all DG tanker builders as stipulated in the SANS code 1518,” says Christo Muller, managing member, CA Muller Fabrication. “Complying with ADR standards requires significant investment in sophisticated robotic welding equipment and testing procedures to ensure construction integrity of new tankers.”

Based outside Wellington in the Western Cape, CA Muller Fabrication specialises in building customised stainless steel tankers for both DG and food-grade/beverage transporters. The challenge set by Distell and United Bulk required close cooperation and collaboration between CA Muller Fabrication, its ancillary component suppliers (SAF-Holland and Transport Technology) and Sandown Commercial Vehicles (Bellville), which supplied the prime-mover, a 6x4 Freightliner Argosy 90 CUM500.

Using a CAD 3D modelling system, we were able to design each component from scratch with the express mission of lowering tare mass as much as possible without compromising structural integrity and safety parameters. The CAD software reflects the exact properties of all materials used to make the tanker, including their respective weights. This allowed us to really push the payload envelope and proceed with the manufacturing process without too much risk.”

The tanker combination consists of a tridem-axle semitanker pulling a single-axle drawbar pup tanker. “We were able to shave a massive 900kg off the tanker using Domex steel and lightweight fibreglass and polyethylene cladding materials.” The SAF-Holland axles carry a full off-road spec and are each 21kg lighter than competitor derivatives. We opted for super-single Bridgestone tyres on Speedline aluminium rims from BPW, which cut a further 500kg off the total tanker tare mass. The air suspension units from SAF-Holland are also considerably lighter than steel mechanical options,” Muller says.

The Freightliner Argosy truck-tractor boasts a class-leading power-to-weight ratio and further tare-mass reductions were achieved via the fitment of aluminium rims and a lightweight SAF-Holland fifth-wheel.

Designed for long-haul applications, the new tanker comes in just under the legal length restriction of 22 metres and is equipped with the latest ABS braking technology from Wabco. The Argosy features Autoshift automatic transmission and a sleeper cab with all the creature comforts to keep driver-fatigue at bay.

The Argosy has a tare mass of 9 080kg, while the unladen semi-tanker weighs in at 7 020kg and the pup tanker carrying a tare mass of 1 940kg. “The combined effort that has gone into this new tanker has allowed us to provide United Bulk and Distell with an unprecedented, fully-legal 38-ton payload, two tons more than was initially anticipated,” says Muller.

Improving payload efficiency in all commercial vehicles is becoming increasingly important to help reduce overall fleet operational expenses and lessen the burden heavy trucks place on our road network and the environment.

For the consignor, Distell, the new tanker will commence duty by carrying its premium Savannah cider brand. Distell is now serviced by a benchmark vehicle that will assist in lowering cost per kilometre while reducing the number of trucks on the road. It will also relieve on-site congestion and help streamline overall transport function.

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