Generation revolution

At the beginning of 2021, Schmitz Cargobull unveiled its EcoGeneration portfolio – aerodyamic semi-trailer curtainsiders. These units are designed to save fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions while operating at full internal height for volume transport where needed.

Production of the EcoGeneration trailers from Schmitz Cargobull are in full swing. There are three product variants that enable the road transport operators to improve their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and environmental footprint.

EcoFLEX – ideal for general cargo and beverage transport; if the full interior volume is required for transports, the rear roof height can be easily adjusted to get from the aerodynamic rear position to 4m total height from front to rear.

EcoVARIOS – suitable for high-volume transportation for the automotive industry; body height can be adjusted in front and rear for up to 3m internal height and flexible for coupling heights.

EcoFIX – ideal for transporting horizontal, flat, and heavy goods like steel and paper rolls; the aerodynamic shape is fixed.

As for standout features of each variant, EcoFLEX has an adjustable rear (500mm) that can be lifted to 4m total rear height if full interior volume is required for the load and there is also an adjustable curtain height to match the body.

EcoVARIOS has an adjustable rear (400mm) and front. The adjustable curtain height also matches the body, up to 3m internal height is achievable and it is flexible for coupling heights. A total height at the front and rear of 4m is possible when set at maximum capacity.

Height cannot be adjusted on the EcoFIX model because it is a fixed aerodynamic body, with curtain height that matches the lowered rear end (4m total front height to second post, from there descending to 3.5m at the rear. This is reported to save fuel due to the weight reduction and aerodynamic design.

Schmitz Cargobull Managing Director, Andreas Schmitz.

Andreas Schmitz, Managing Director of Schmitz Cargobull details the aerodynamic advantages of these trailers.

“The aerodynamic shape of the new EcoGeneration curtainsiders reduces aerodynamic drag and therefore fuel consumption and CO2 emissions,” he said.

“According to the aerodynamic principles, the EcoGeneration trailers with their aerodynamic rear reduce the Cw-value by reducing the rear surface area and creating thus a smaller trailing area and less vortex formation (air flow converges behind the trailer).

“With the EcoFLEX and EcoVARIOS, the body height can easily be raised to 4m, in case the full interior volume is required for volume transports. This concept offers potentially high savings without additional expenses, especially when transporting heavy goods. All of this without significantly changing the trailer functions, transport performance and the familiar handling. The increased efficiency and effectiveness of the aerodynamic body is providing excellent sustainability through maximum fuel savings and it does not come at the cost of expensive, easily damaged attachments.”

Sustainable cost savings and green solutions have always been a part of Schmitz Cargobull’s DNA, accross all generations of the family business, according to Andreas Schmitz.

“Early on, we incorporated sustainable aspects into our developments. To name a few examples: Schmitz Cargobull launched the bolted and galvanised chassis in 2002, which increases the useful life of a trailer, we developed trailer telematics already at the end of last century bringing now the 4th generation to the market. Since 2018 our TrailerConnect system including certified temperature control and remote temperature control is included in our reefers as a standard equipment. Now we also make it available in our semi-trailer curtainsiders and dry freight vehicles. And finally weight reduction without compromising robustness and longevity has always been the focus of our developments.

We can easily summarise it: All our practical CO2 solutions reduce TCO for our customers and thereby the environmental impact.”

The ExoFLEX is particularly suitable for general cargo and beverage transport.

As an innovative market leader, Andreas Schmitz said it was natural to enable the company’s customers to become more efficient and to lower the environmental impact, for example with completely new vehicle concepts.

“The pioneer of our EcoGeneration is the ‘Transformers’ trailer, a project which was funded by the European Commission in 2017. Together with 13 partners from the commercial vehicle industry, Schmitz Cargobull designed the energy-efficient Transformers trailer, which reduces CO2 emissions by up to 15 per cent. From the beginning, the prototype vehicle was not developed as a special design. It was developed based on a standard trailer with adapted series parts. We have derived our further developments from this project, and this led to the development of the EcoGeneration, which is now ready for series production.”
A key factor for fleets across Europe investing in more energy efficient trailing equipment is generally in direct response to that CO2 tax which commenced in the beginning of 2021 in Germany.

“In the 2015 Paris Agreement, with other countries Germany committed to reduce its GHG emissions,” said Andreas Schmitz. “The CO2 levy regulation (carbon tax) was introduced in Germany in 2021, so that the federal government can achieve its CO2 reduction targets. In 2021, the price per tonne CO2 starts with €25 and will be raised successively to reach a price corridor of €55 to €65 from the year 2026. This CO2 tax is applied to all CO2 emitters.

“Beginning of 2021, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure launched the so-called ‘Fleet Renewal Program’. This program promotes the purchase of intelligent trailer technology that reduces the CO2 emissions of the entire tractor and trailer combination, and thus contributes to a cleaner environment. The inclusion of trailers is an important signal to the entire transport industry to strive for more environmentally friendly and sustainable processes and results. We are particularly proud that the vehicles of the EcoGeneration and our super-insulated reefer trailer S.KO COOL SMART with S.CU cooling unit and a K-value better than 0.36 are included.”

Load securing and loading/unloading can be carried out as usual without any additional work.

EcoGeneration trailers are expected to improve the bottom line of road transport businesses through productivity and environmental efficiencies.

The fuel saving potential of the EcoGeneration depends highly on how many transports can be driven in the aerodynamic mode.

“In our conservative approach we calculate the fuel saving up to 5.0 per cent,” Andreas Schmitz said. “However, in a first customer field test with EcoFLEX, savings of 10 per cent have been achieved. The transport company used the aerodynamic position in more than 75 per cent of its transportation. The higher the proportion of journeys in aerodynamic mode, the higher the savings.

“If only 50 per cent of all journeys are made in aerodynamic mode and 50 per cent in volume mode, the environment is relieved by 2.3 tonnes of CO2 per year. The transport company that uses EcoFLEX for several months now achieved savings above 10 per cent.”

Better yet, these vehicles, according to Andreas Schmitz, meet the requirements of the German fleet renewal program. This means asset owners are eligible for subsidies.

“Up to €5,000 (or a maximum of 60 per cent of the purchase price of an intelligent trailer technology) can be claimed with the purchase of an EcoFLEX, EcoVARIOS or EcoFIX,” he said. “Our German sales team is trained to support customers in all questions regarding trailers and the subsidy program.”

The ability to adjust the height of the EcoFlex and EcoVARIOS variants is impressive in terms of tailoring the trailer to meet the needs of the operator while also remaining aerodynamic and efficient. So, how challenging was this to incorporate in the trailer design?

“Obviously, it took some development time and we had to do some extensive testing,” said Andreas Schmitz. “However, with the long experience especially regarding the Schmitz Cargobull VARIOS-body which can be flexibly adapted to any coupling height, and the experience out of the ‘Transformers’ project, the innovative EcoGeneration is – in a way – the logical evolution. Again, the customer gets the best of both in one trailer: Full height when needed and maximum fuel savings.”

The chassis and van bodies in the EcoGeneration range have seen some recent innovations.

“The body of the EcoGeneration is compatible with any chassis and with almost all features of the body such as for EcoFIX, the lath-less POWER CURTAIN,” said Andreas Schmitz. “Furthermore, we have brought out new chassis generation with further weight reductions into the market. Part of that new Chassis and with it the X-LIGHT is a further significant weight reduction while complying with our reliability and longevity objectives.”

All EcoGeneration vehicles are fitted with TrailerConnect CTU trailer telematics as standard.

“With ‘100 per cent SMART’, Schmitz Cargobull is pursuing the strategy of introducing TrailerConnect trailer telematics as standard across the entire product range,” said Andreas Schmitz. “The telematics systems and the various services are tailored to the respective requirements of the transport task and the vehicle. The S.KO COOL SMART refrigerated semi-trailer was already presented at the IAA 2018 equipped with telematics including certified remote temperature monitoring. Now the curtainsider semitrailer S.CS SMART and thus also the vehicles of the EcoGeneration will follow. The standard telematics equipment creates a broad basis for the optimal control of a networked and integrated logistics chain and thus for optimal vehicle use and more efficiency. It also increases transparency and helps to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership. We make our Telematics Hardware and Portal as a White-label-solution available to partners and other trailer manufacturers, so that they can bring those benefits to their customers using their own brand.”

Simple and quick height adjustment with no additional tools required.

More broadly, the Andreas Schmitz sees sustainability as a global concern and has looked closer at its plan in Australia as well as its cooperation with South African partner, GRW.

“In Australia, for example, we have just expanded our product portfolio to include a variety of different chassis lengths,” said Andreas Schmitz. “These include the PBS (Performance-Based Standards) tested 26-pallet semi-trailer. The trailers, especially in the 26-pallet version, are characterised by high safety standards and enable larger transport capacities, which in turn increases customer productivity and minimizes transports due to the higher volume.”

Andreas Schmitz has a positive outlook for the remainder of 2021: “We plan to reach 2.5 billion euros in sales, hope to visit our customers again soon and have a drink together without the worry of Covid.”

These EcoGeneration trailers enable fuel savings of up to 5.0 per cent and carbon emission reductions without compromising performance.