Trucking Companies Develop New Steel-Hauling Method
Nussbaum Transportation and Wabash National have combined forces to give the steel supply chain an alternative to flatbed trucking. The companies have introduced the first dry freight van with a 35,000-pound floor.
"DuraPlate XD-35 revolutionizes transportation and logistics operations by increasing freight load capacities well beyond those of traditional dry freight vans that only handle 18,000 to 20,000 pounds," says Robert Lane, director of new business development for Wabash National transportation products. "For example, now steel coil can be hauled in a dry freight van. Plus, carriers can move both inbound raw material and outbound finished product in the same piece of equipment, improving equipment utilization and reducing dead-head miles."
The origin for the new van dates to a problem faced by appliance manufacturer Electrolux. The company was receiving coils on flatbed trucks, but had no outgoing product suitable for a flatbed, so the trucks went away empty. On top of that, the coils were exposed to inclement weather and subject to rust, and Electrolux was struggling to find consistent rates on flatbed service. They voiced their concerns to Nussbaum, which approached Lafayette, Ind.-based Wabash National to find a solution.
Wabash National developed the DuraPlate XD-35 in response. With this option, coils can be loaded and unloaded at the dock door with the use of a heavy-duty forklift, saving valuable time once spent tarping and untarping or waiting for an overhead crane to become available. Coils are placed in the van with the eye to the sky, then strapped into D-rings built into both sides of the floor.
Nussbaum Transportation and its client Electrolux have been running 25 to 30 of the prototype vehicles over the past year on a dedicated operation between Greenfield, Ind., and St. Cloud, Minn. “It has saved them substantially on rates inbound, allowing them to use the same equipment on outbound. It has combined two modes of equipment into one,” says Brent Nussbaum, CEO of Nussbaum Transportation, Normal, Ill.
The shipping company is already in talks with other customers about adopting the means of transport, though they must have the inside loading docks and heavy-duty forklifts to employ it.
"Carriers and shippers face challenges today that will not be met by yesterday's equipment. They demand proven performance to offset increasing fuel costs, and improve driver and operational efficiency to ultimately enhance profitability," says Dick Giromini, president and chief executive officer, Wabash National Corp.