The automotive industry has very special requirements for the transport and logistics of components from suppliers to production centers. Smet,a company with a fleet of over 300 heavy trucks and 1,300 trailers, which takes care of the supply chain for the Italian FCA factories (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Iveco and CNH), knows this and has come up with an innovative solution.
Instead of using traditional semi trailers measuring 13.5 meters they will use extra-long 15 meter semis – Smet will have about 30 on the road this year-, road tested as part of ‘Project eighteen’.
The idea comes from a special need to carryn38 pallets instead of the 33 moved by an traditional articulate. This solution is ideal for automotive components being transported across a medium range – typically, at distances up to 350 kilometers – with empty containers returning. “These vehicles”, explains Domenico De Rosa, MD of Smet “operate and will operate over the next five years between plants and suppliers of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Iveco and CNH with balanced outward and return flows.
The extra-long maxivolumes are pulled by Iveco Stralis Hi-Way 440AS48 Euro VI 480 hp engines, wheeled / 60.
‘What made the Smet experiment with 18 meter articulated vehicles?
‘We were the pioneers in project eighteen, from the very beginning road tests. After having experienced the advantages in 2010 – efficiency gains of 20 percent and beyond – we invested in this innovative solution in hopes that, in a few years, the new size will be included as a normative standard’.
What precautions must be implemented to use extra-long road vehicles?
‘The roads along the routes must first be monitored remotely through an analysis on digital maps by central logistics control. Each vehicle is assigned the same route. If any change occurs we must make an additional analysis of the obstacles. In addition, there are training courses for drivers, who are aware of the unusual size of the trailer ‘ .
Are the Stralis Hi-Way equipped with special safety equipment, in addition to the standard?
‘Newly registered Articulated lorries have automatic braking in reverse. The system is activated when the ultrasonic sensors, placed in the trailer, detect an obstacle during maneuvers ‘.
What are the most valued qualities of the Stralis Hi-Way 480 hp with the extra-long trailers?
‘Without a doubt cost management and reliability on the road’.
TWENTY-FIVE IS TOO FAR, EIGHTEEN IS PERFECT
‘Project eighteen’ is a pilot initiative launched in 2009 by the National Association of the Automotive Industry (ANFIA), Iveco – responsible for monitoring the project execution phase – by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, as the clearance to experimentation and movement, and the CSST – Study Center of Transportation Systems – for testing in Italy articulated vehicles measuring 18 meters in length overall, instead of the traditional 16.5 meters.
The purpose of the trial, approved in July 2008 by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, is to verify on the field, in real world operating conditions, reducing the average cost per unit of goods handled, the actual compatibility of the extra-long articulated trucks with the road infrastructure and their maneuverability in loading bays and near the docks.
The test results, obtained by monitoring missions carried out in parallel by standard combinations and those of 18 meters, will enable the Ministry to participate in EU discussions on the development of regulations on the weights and dimensions of vehicles. The first phase of ‘Project eighteen’ involved thirty vehicles, while the second, which has just begun, provides for the on road monitoring of approximately 300 articulated vehicles.
The 18 meter vehicles allow us to load 38 pallets instead of 33 as standard. The gains, in terms of volume load, is between 10 and 20 cubic meters (as a percentage, ranging from + 11 to + 22%) in comparison to a traditional semi-trailer.
The 18 meter solution is definitely more suited to the characteristics of the national infrastructure than long lengths of 25.25 meters, known as Eurocombi, used in some European countries like Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. The Eurocombi, have recently been rejected, by the European Parliament which, in its plenary session on April 15, stopped their development by suppressing the Commission’s proposal to allow the cross-border trafficking of these lengths.