Sep 1, 2005 12:00 PM
FOR MANY of the Brazilian companies involved in shipping orange juice to the US market, the process starts with tank truck movements to the Port of Santos. The trip can be very time-consuming, especially when tanker rigs are forced to negotiate the congested roads and highways through central Sao Paulo.
To boost productivity and expedite the transport process for orange juice — one of the major food exports from Brazil — the local government authorized tank truck carriers to run road trains over a more direct route that is less congested. The tractor and two tank trailers must have a total length that is between 25 and 26 meters (82 and 85 feet). Maximum gross weight is 74 tonnes (163,140 pounds), plus a 5% allowance.
One of the Brazilian tank truck carriers wanting to take advantage of the new rule is Rodoviário Morada do Sol in Araraquara, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo. The carrier has more than 200 insulated tank trailers running around the clock hauling orange juice to tank farms at the Port of Santos.
Managers of the tank fleet approached Recrusul SA, a tank trailer builder in Sapucaia do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul. The carrier asked the tank builder to develop a new roadtrain configuration to benefit from the regulatory change. The fleet also wanted to know about the feasibility of converting existing semi-tank-trailers into roadtrains.
“We had run into difficulties before when developing equipment like this for foodgrade transport,” says Paulo de A B Gomes, Recrusul managing director. “These trains consisted of a tractor, two semi-trailers, and a dolly between the trailers.
“Some of the problems with this configuration include a need for extra maintenance, exaggerated rear trailer sway, interference with rear discharge piping, and a limited turning radius. There was always a concern with this arrangement that fifthwheel grease would foul the discharge outlet on the lead tanker.”
Recrusul decided to take a different approach to overcome the problems with the conventional roadtrain. It developed a small, lightweight fifthwheel with a self-lubricating surface and mounted it upside down on the dolly. A standard kingpin was mounted on the rear frame of each tank trailer.
The stainless steel tanks are insulated with 120mm (4½ inches) of polyurethane foamed in place and jacketed with glass reinforced plastic sheets. Frames are constructed of high-tensile steel. Running gear includes integrated axles and air suspensions, widebase tires, and aluminum disc wheels.
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