The Secret to Long Trailer Life

What does it take to extend the life of an already durable and dependable product? Forward-thinking design and the right support network to keep the product working productively. For Great Dane that challenge is extending its impressive 10 to 15-year trailer life average to 20 years and beyond. At this year’s Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition, Great Dane showcased the industry’s first 20-year trailer, built and customized for Walmart, who demanded that the trailer was designed for extreme durability and an extended useful life using exceptionally strong materials and corrosion-prevention techniques.

Design-wise, the interior of the trailer had several components designed to provide maximum strength, including Great Dane’s SSL interior panels, a 12-inch-high laminated hardwood side scuffband and steel front scuffband, Great Dane’s exclusive PunctureGuard ceiling liner, and Rockland 1.25-inch Pound Saver composite floor featuring Grip Guard topcoat and a 21-inch deep galvanized steel rear grid plate.

These features addressed the hardest working segments of the trailer, namely:

  1. The trailer flooring, particularly at the rear where forklifts are continually dropping onto the trailer;
  2. The landing gear, which can take a massive amount of abuse in applications in which the trailer is loaded and unloaded multiple times a day; and
  3. The upper coupler, which is where the trailer experiences the most stress when hauled.

For additional durability and corrosion-resistance, this trailer also features several hot dipped galvanized components, including the rear impact guard, upper coupler and rolled lip bottom plate, landing gear mounting braces and “k” braces, and full-length crossmembers.

From a service and support standpoint, Great Dane’s AdvantEDGE aftermarket parts and service network continues to grow by leaps and bounds to exceed service support expectations. Currently, the program provides 24/7 emergency roadside service, consolidated invoicing, single point-of-contact, not-to-exceed parts pricing and the peace of mind that comes from clear communication, quality repair services and a nationwide network. And the more than 100 AdvantEDGE service locations are staffed with trained technicians who are up to date on the most current products and repair techniques.

While a 20-year, cutting-edge designed trailer is exciting, it’s important to recognize that the pillars that support an extended-life trailer are in place today.

“If the trailer is spec’d properly for its application, takes advantage of the available options and it’s properly maintained, we’re confident that the trailer can exceed customer lifecycle expectations right now,” said Mark Schultz, Great Dane’s director of van product engineering.

“There’s a big difference in applications. If you have an over-the-road trailer that’s only seeing a dock two to three times a week, it’s going to last longer than a trailer that’s at a dock four to five times a day. It’s all about maximizing the trailer life for its application.

Future technologies, from advanced alloys used in the trailer’s construction to advanced trailer telematics driven by data streaming off sensors will continue to extend trailer lifecycles. Consider wheel end temperature sensors. Currently, wheel end manufacturers are exploring the use of temperature sensors in wheel ends that would integrate into trailer telematics platforms—alerting the customer of wheel end temps that exceed an acceptable range and avoiding a major, unexpected trailer service event. As new technologies in both hardware and software are developed, Great Dane will continue to assess the trailer benefits and ROI for its customers.