French trailer builder, Chereau, says that in the coming years it expects to see an increased demand for cleaner and more fuel-efficient road transport. In line with the original equipment manufacturer’s commitment to rising to the modern challenges of cold chain compliance, it is developing a new generation of refrigerated semi-trailers, highlighting better performance as well as technologies that see a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and noise emissions while improving operational conditions such as ergonomics and safety.
Since September 2016, Chereau has initiated its Refrigerated Optimised Advanced Design (ROAD) project, which involves the lightening of the chassis, with new design and materials; improved semi-trailer design to reduce aerodynamic drag; body insulation that comprises materials with outstanding thermal performance; on-board hydrogen fuel cells for clean energy production; electric refrigeration units using carbon dioxide as a refrigerant; and interconnected electrical equipment to minimise energy consumption as well as improve ergonomics and offer new safety features.
According to Chereau, ROAD will be tested in actual operating conditions by Malherbe, a leader in the French transport industry that specialises in the transportation of general goods and focuses primarily on agri-food, consumer products, mass distribution, pharmaceuticals, chemicals as well materials for the building and construction sectors.
The project duration for ROAD is about three years and is expected to end by approximately August 2019. It is a collaborative effort that is funded by the FUI (Single Inter-Ministry Fund) and is co-financed by six partners (see breakout box), the Normandy Region, the Burgundy-Franche-Comté and the State (BPI France).
Following this ongoing development process, Chereau has been continuously innovating with its connectivity capabilities and launched its multiplexed refrigerated semi-trailer, Chereau Next, at the 2017 international show for road and urban transport solutions, Solutrans, which was held in Lyon.
Chereau says that this semi-trailer represents a genuine technological leap forward and offers a large number of original features: connection with the prime mover and transmission of information to the dashboard, a telematics socket and a ‘plug and connect’ maintenance socket, coupling functions for unrivalled ergonomics, optimal safety for operators on the road and during loading/unloading.
Chereau Next, which received a very enthusiastic welcome on its launch, also “wowed” the jury for the 2017 innovation prize for industrial bodywork, awarding it a silver medal.
As a result, Chereau’s market growth has been steady since 2011. The export share is between 42 per cent and 48 per cent depending on the year, which represents an increase of 20 per cent a year on average. At the same time, turnover has reportedly risen by 70 per cent and 400 personnel have joined the company, which now employs 950 people.
In 2017, Chereau achieved the second-best performance in terms of turnover in its history, slightly below that of 2016. 2017 was a “levelling off” year in preparation for the company’s future growth. The momentum created, with numerous internal sites committed, bodes well for another record year in 2018.
As the ROAD project progresses from technology development to the prototyping phase, Chereau will continue to look to the future with all of its semi-trailer designs.
Chereau’s six partners involved in the Refrigerated Optimised Advanced Design (ROAD) project include simplified joint stock company and subsidiary of the ENSAM (Higher Mechanical & Industrial Engineering School – since July 2016), AMVALOR, CNRS FCLAB Research Federation, electronic equipment manufacturer, Tronico, cold chain technology company, Carrier Transicold, and Malherbe.
Chereau introduced its first new generation refrigerated semi-trailer to use Controller Area Network (CAN) bus technology at trade show, Solutrans, last November.
The Chereau Next has systems that communicate with each other for the purpose of automating numerous functions and developing new ones while increasing comfort, efficiency and safety for hauliers.
“The process involves grouping the vehicle’s key components into a single network using sensors, enabling all the data relating to their use to be gathered at a single point, from which these components are able to interact. Although, at a glance, the vehicle does not appear to have changed much, its multiplexed architecture has revolutionised everything.”