Is this the future for trailer construction?

Louise Smyth

Tata Steel has launched a new lightweight product for commercial fleet markets that reduces fuel consumption and optimises payloads. It’s based on EconCore’s patented honeycomb technology. 

Dubbed Coretinium, it’s Tata Steel’s latest state-of-the-art material that uses the thermoplastic honeycomb technology in a steel skinned sandwich. It is suited to a broad range of applications.

Edwin Richards from Tata Steel said: “While the use of HSS can make a big impact on trailer weight, we saw, especially on dry-freight box trailers, that there was still a lot of upper structure weight coming from the heavy plywood-based side walls and doors, for which we had no obvious solution. When we discovered EconCore’s technology we knew this could be the answer; a lightweight, rigid composite solution, that could maintain its strength and flatness at large sizes, giving trailer builders and end-clients the sidewall solution they desired.”

The Coretinium line is located at Tata Steel’s Shotton Works in the UK. It now exports sheets across continents thanks to the interest of trailer builders in adopting new lightweight solutions for their upper structures. Richards continued, “We know lightweighting is a key strategy for producers to meet EU mandated demands for fuel economy, with a 15 per cent carbon dioxide reduction target by 2025 and so here’s an opportunity for us to develop a product that is just as good in terms of strength and rigidity as conventional solutions but offers huge weight savings.”

Tata Steel supported a consortium including UK trailer builders, as part of an Innovate UK funded project to trial lightweight solutions for commercial transport. Four double deck trailers were built and added to a supermarket fleet to monitor the fuel savings and carbon dioxide reductions that could be achieved through both lightweighting and aerodynamic design innovations.

The Innovate UK consortium were attracted to using Coretinium because when compared to traditional plywood-based sidewall solutions, it typically saves around 6kg/m² (142lb ft²), which equates to around 500kg (1,100lb) over the complete trailer, reducing fuel costs and carbon dioxide emissions. For a large fleet of around 500 vehicles, this can mean cash savings of between £0.5m to £1.1m, depending on the journey type.

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