A Fonterra tanker driver is going up against two engineering firms to see who could possibly design the co-operative’s next generation of tanker trailers.
The company’s Reporoa-based driver Bill Groves designed a trailer that featured a double axle to give it improved manoeuvrability and safety when entering and exiting a corner.
It also draws on Groves’ previous experience driving a logging truck and the unique design is patent pending.
His trailer will be tested on the road alongside two others designed by specialist transport engineering companies Longveld and Domett.
The aim was to determine which had the best manoeuvrability, higher milk collection capacity, economy and efficiency savings for Fonterra’s tanker fleet.
The company hoped the trailers would increase milk collection productivity by eight to 10 per cent while reducing kilometres, possibly meaning fewer tankers on the road which could help meet its environmental goals.
Groves had been working on his trailer concept for seven years and said Fonterra had supported him throughout the design and build phase of the project.
“It has been a really cool journey to be a part of and just being able to be here right now is awesome.”
Fonterra’s classic tanker could hold up to 15,000l of milk, whereas the three new designs are two metres longer and can hold up to 21,000l.
On Domett’s Gen 4 trailer, the back two wheels steer with the front of the vehicle, making it more manoeuvrable.
The tank was more oval, meaning it could be lowered further to the ground, making it more stable.
It had three baffles or strengthening beams, landed widthways in the back to protect the milk and the vehicle from flipping.
The Longveld trailer was elliptical, making it look more space-age than the original.
It had a strong shape and design to make it safer and more stable on the road which also made it easier to clean the inside of the tanks.
Fonterra’s general manager transport logistics Barry McColl said the company wanted a trailer which could carry more milk and had improved manoeuvrability on tight tracks.
“We are trialling the trailers around the North Island because that’s where we have a lot of older farms with tracks that were built for smaller trucks.
“Around the South Island that’s not so much of an issue because there are a lot of newer farms which have outstanding access for large vehicles.”
The trial, over the next 12 months, would help the company decide which of the trailers had performed the best.
McColl said he was impressed with the three designs.
“Bill’s was quite radical and different from the other two which were variants of what we have at the moment.
“It’s given us something good to compare over the next year. Drivers’ feedback will definitely be a key platform to show us how the trailers have performed.”