Exa Corporation, the leading innovator of simulation software for product design and engineering, has partnered with Laydon Composites Ltd. to develop an airflow management kit that dramatically improves the aerodynamic performance of commercial tractor trailers.
These new devices were on display at the American Trucking Associations' Technology and Maintenance Council's 2015 Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN. The fuel economy savings of the airflow kits were certified using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SmartWay trailer procedure, demonstrating fuel economy improvements of 9.3%, compared with a trailer without the devices.
Designed using Exa's PowerFLOW simulation software, the new airflow kit was highly optimized to reduce the aerodynamic "wake" behind the vehicle. Manufactured for Great Dane trailers, these kits consist of two components: a nose cone for the front of the trailer and highly engineered side skirts.
Generating fuel economy improvements of this magnitude has normally required the trailer to be fitted with a rear fairing or "boat-tail" to smooth the airflow at the rear. Boat-tails are not popular with the trucking industry because they can introduce operational issues when docking and unloading. Further, the extra weight hanging off the back of the trailer creates opportunity for damage and may lead to higher maintenance costs.
"Exa's design, which removes the need for a boat-tail section at the rear of the trailer, means truck operators can have a highly efficient airflow kit at a lower cost," says Brian Layfield, President of Laydon.
"This product complements Laydon's many innovative drag reduction technologies designed for tractor and trailers. We have been designing and manufacturing these types of products for 30 years."
Layfield continues, "This new breakthrough product could not have been created without the help of Exa's engineers and the use of their simulation-driven design. Exa's PowerFLOW software was key to achieving these significant advantages, removing the need for costly wind tunnel, track and road testing development work." Laydon and Exa are planning a range of new products designed for the lowest cost of ownership and the highest drag reduction in the industry.
"The new airflow kit, applied to a large fleet of trailers, will result in millions of dollars in fuel savings each year," states Doug Hatfield, Exa's Managing Director for Heavy Vehicles.
Exa has introduced a new revenue sharing model with Laydon based on units sold. Exa's President and CEO, Stephen Remondi states, "This new business model augments our traditional licensing model and helps to expand the addressable market deeper into the supply chain, where up front engineering costs often deter the design and manufacture of new and improved components and subsystems."
Remondi remarks, "We are making a bold statement of confidence that we are willing to be paid on the success of these new products. This is a new, results-based business model for the company, and one we expect to roll out with more clients in the future as we reach other untapped opportunities."