By James Menzies TORONTO, Ont. - This winter, Truck News received reports the O. P. P. were targeting truckers who had snow and ice built up on their trailer tops. It poses quite the quandary for driv...
By James Menzies TORONTO, Ont. – This winter, Truck News received reports the O. P. P. were targeting truckers who had snow and ice built up on their trailer tops. It poses quite the quandary for drivers and fleets.
Climbing atop a trailer to remove snow and ice is a workplace hazard, and strongly discouraged by workers’ compensation agencies in Canada. But on the other hand, police are inclined to ticket a driver for failing to remove the wintry debris.
What’s a driver to do?
There appears to be a potential solution out there, and it comes from the United Kingdom of all places. William Tudor, president of Erythros Technologies International contacted Truck News after reading a blog entry on trucknews.com about trailer-top snow and ice accumulation.
His company has developed a roof-top system that prevents snow and ice from collecting in the first place. It consists of a series of panels (10 would be required for a 53-ft. van trailer) which capture solar energy and store it in small, watchsized lithium batteries. When the temperature drops below 35 F (2 C), the system turns on and warms the panels to 45-50 F (7-10 C) to prevent snow and ice from accumulating. When the temperature is above 2 C, the system hibernates.
It works on untethered trailers as well as those that are attached to power units, Tudor told Truck News in a recent interview from the U. K.
“You don’t have to worry about turning it on,” explained Tudor, who learned all about the dangers of snow and ice accumulation while working as a truck driver in the US. “These trailers sit in the yard and it’s not sticking, so they’re ready to go which is a major plus for drivers and trucking companies. They don’t have to worry about trailer turnaround and drivers getting citations.”
The company has been in talks with Liberty Linehaul to begin testing the system here in Canada next winter. Currently, the largest obstacles to bringing the system to market are the manufacturing cost and life-expectancy, Tudor admits. The company is aiming to design a system that will last more than 10 years and it is seeking suppliers that can help drive down the manufacturing cost.
By the time the system is rolled out, Tudor said it should cost no more than $300 per trailer.
“I understand that yes, it is expensive, but there is no real cheap way to resolve the problem,”Tudor said. “It will pay for itself in insurance claims alone in five to six years. We’re trying really hard to bring the price down as much as possible.”
The company has already initiated discussions with Transport Canada and also plans to appeal to insurance companies to provide incentives for fleets that adopt the technology.
The entire system weighs about 78 lbs – significantly less than a rooftop full of snow and ice. When the sun isn’t out, the heating coils are powered by the batteries which last for up to 24 hours before needing to be recharged by the solar panels. Tudor said the batteries are designed specifically to perform in extremely cold weather.
“I know it gets bloody cold in Canada,” Tudor explained. “We searched around and found a Norwegian company that supplies these batteries, which were designed for use in the Arctic Circle.”
Erythros is in the final stages of its research and development phase. Next up is real-world testing which is set to commence next fall in Canada.
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