Posted: June 12, 2017 in Kenworth

The first new product has emerged in the wake of Wabco’s purchase of Laydon Composites, and it comes in the form of a self-deploying trailer boat tail.  Introduced at the Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting, the OptiFlow AutoTail automatically deploys at 45 mph and closes at 10mph, drawing on speed data from the trailer’s antilock braking system.  The automated opening helps to ensure that the potential aerodynamic benefits are always realized at highway speeds, while the closing will help to ensure the equipment is not damaged when a trailer is backed into a loading dock.  OptiFlow Auto Tail earned an EPA SmartWay designation through tests by Canada’s National Research Council.  Tests show the panels can improve fuel economy by up to 4.3% at highway speeds, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 4.8 tons per trailer per year.  The device differs from a competing system in several ways.  Rather than using hinges, the panes use cantilevers to swing into place.  They’re also shaped for better aerodynamic flow, only 21 inches wide, and made of injection-molded thermoplastic.  It was a rapid development process.  Wabco purchased Laydon Composites in April 2016 and the Ontario company’s former president Brian Layfield said his team had barely discussed the technology at the time of sale.  But now the company has the backing of a global company behind it.  “Its been for me really rewarding going from three engineers.  I now have the ability to tap into 2,400 engineers,” Layfield said, referring to available support and cost synergies.  Wabco, meanwhile, is looking to maintain the group’s entrepreneurial spirit.  “In the end it’s all about getting out of the way,” said Jon Morrison, Wabco president.  “We recognize what we know and what we don’t know.”  Wabco is also offering its manually deployed OptiFlow Tail for the first time in North America.  The OptiFlow Tail offers the same fuel savings as OptiFlow Auto Tail and is easily upgraded to the autodeploy version, according to the company.


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