Strick® Trailers, America’s premier manufacturer of aluminum sheet and post trailers, is pleased to be a part of the “Shell StarShip” sponsored by Shell Lubricants.
Is it the StarShip Strick? No. Actually, its real name is the “Shell StarShip” sponsored by Shell Lubricants. More specifically, it is a futuristic concept vehicle designed and built by the AirFlow Truck Company of Newington Connecticut, pulling a super lightweight, custom built Strick 53’ trailer.
According to the Shell team, “the StarShip is an innovative, material step towards reducing emissions and increasing overall efficiency and fuel economy in the transport sector. This next-generation truck features a custom, aerodynamic design and aims to demonstrate improvements in fuel economy for class 8 trucks while lowering CO2 emissions.”
Looking more like it belongs in a Star Trek episode than carrying freight on I-80, this sleek machine is loaded full of high-tech gadgetry making the cab interior look like the cockpit of a super-sonic stealth fighter jet. Aerodynamic features abound from the smooth, large radii tractor nose that includes an active grill system, to the tractor/trailer gap sealer, a pneumatic landing gear that fully retracts, low-slung continuous full-length skirts on both sides, and back to a modified Stemco Trailer Tail at the rear.
Additional efficiency features of the StarShip added by AirFlow Truck Company include cameras with displays inside the cab instead of mirrors for better aerodynamics, a custom tire inflation system to minimize rolling resistance, down speed axle configuration for further fuel efficiency, and a 5,000 watt solar array on the trailer roof to power the cab AC system.
Behind the tractor is a Strick Model 99 sheet and post dry van with many customized specs to reduce weight and maximize fuel efficiency. “Trailers are as important, aerodynamically, as the tractor is, all things considered,” said Bob Sliwa, Founder and President of AirFlow Truck Company.
Justin Bell, Strick Trailers, Director of Engineering agrees, “While much effort has been devoted over the last two decades to making tractors more fuel efficient, the trailer has remained largely ignored when, in reality, a few special design options can bring significant fuel savings. Where else can a fleet get that kind of productivity today?”
From the factory, the 53’ Strick trailer in the StarShip rig included the following weight and fuel saving options:
- Anti-slip aluminum floor in lieu of laminated oak
- Aluminum crossmembers in the bay in lieu of steel
- Aluminum side posts in lieu of galvanized steel
- PTS50 Pneumatic folding landing gear in lieu of fixed
- No interior lining, scuff only, in lieu of plywood or plastic lining with scuff
- Whiting Innovator swing doors in lieu of composite plate
- Low rolling resistant tires
- PSI tire inflation system
- Disc brakes in lieu of drum type
- Estimated tare weight – 10,900 lbs +/- 3%
Strick’s Bell further noted, “Lighter trailers save fuel, but not all fleets are well advised to incorporate all these light weight features in their trailers. Consideration needs to be given to cargoes to be carried, operational circumstances, and long-term maintenance costs. At Strick, we help the customer work through these choices in a process we call “Customer-ization” to result in the optimal trailer for their fleet.”
Meanwhile, the Shell StarShip recently completed a 2,300 mile demonstration run across the southern United States. Dave Schaller, Industry Engagement Director of the NACFE (North American Council on Freight Efficiency, www.NACFE.org) followed the truck all the way from San Diego, CA to Jacksonville, FL and worked with his colleague, NACFE Engineering Director, Yunsu Park, to collect and analyze telematic data. According to their field research, the truck attained 178.4 ton-miles per gallon freight ton efficiency, 2.48 times better than the North American average of 72 ton-miles per gallon.
Dave Schaller reported, “The truck was operating with some untested technology, but still managed to average 8.94 miles per US gallon with the best economy segment reaching just over 10 miles per gallon, and achieved an impressive 178.4 ton-miles per gallon freight ton efficiency. We look forward to seeing the next steps in the drive for improved freight ton efficiency.”