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Lighter Reefer Revealed at Trade Show

Wabash trailer on a highway truck going over a bridge.
©Wabash National Corporation

Wabash National showed off its new refrigerated trailer – or reefer – that it says is a prototype composite refrigerated unit that will be light as a dry, or empty van. It was shown for the first time at the Technology and Maintenance Council meetings. The company said it has 25 percent more thermal efficiency and the box is 20 percent lighter even with the refrigerator unit on board. The company says it is meeting a growing need in the shipping business.

Robert lane, who is in charge of product and business development, was quoted by Truck News as saying the trailer will be 1,500 – 2,000 pounds lighter than most refrigerated trailers. It has a 24,000 pound floor rating even at that weight. The trailer can also be used as a dry van.

Lane said the goal was to build a trailer that was lighter than the average dry van, but that had great refrigerating qualities. It is also puncture resistant, so it will take a little more abuse than a regular refrigerated trailer could.

To make a reefer this light, they took the metal out of the walls and floors. The box of this trailer is a one piece structure made of a composite glass, resin and foam. The rails are made of metal, but there is no other metal in the structure.

One of these refer trailers have been on the road for several months now in testing, and the company expects them to start being sold commercially later this year. It will be next year before there is full scale mass production.

Lane said he does not yet know what the cost of the trailers will be. He said it would stay within the range of this type vehicle. They felt a composite structure would be best, but the cost of composite has always been a problem. Lane said the cost might be higher but he said it would also be reasonable.

The market for this type reefer world wide is growing at 15 percent each year, so there is a need for this trailer.

The company BASF helped by choosing the right mix of materials for the composite. They wanted to work together with Wabash to take advantage of the growth possibilities while being sensitive to fuel economy and environmental issues. Company officials say they believe it will fill a need and  could revolutionize the cold transportation industry.