Tanker technology seriously on the turn 05 May 2010
SP Holding of Telford, the drainage services trucks and plant hire firm, is challenging UK fleet operators to buy 'best of British'. Putting its money where its proverbial mouth is, the firm's latest vehicle – a 12-tonne gvw vacuum tanker – has a 100% British pedigree.
As in the past, the firm specified Whale Tankers' bodywork, in the form of a 1,200-gallon capacity vacuum tank. However, this time it also went for a British chassis – paring it with a DAF FA LF 45 4x2 sleeper cab chassis assembled in the UK at Leyland Trucks, which also specialises in the waste and cleaning truck industries.
Supplied by DAF dealership Greenhouse Commercials, of Shrewsbury, the chassis cab even goes as far as sporting the Union Jack, together with the wording 'Assembled in Britain'.
Setting aside the worthy campaign, though, specifying, and indeed operating and maintaining, tankers like this one is more specialised than many transport engineers may realise. This tanker was specified for multi-purpose blockage removal, so, for example, has a tank constructed from Grade 304 stainless steel, designed for non-hazardous waste. Also, its vacuum system is powered by a Mistral 402 exhauster/compressor, and it also caters for low volume jetting, delivering 12gpm of clean water at 3,500psi.
That sets its own challenges, in terms of onboard equipment type and location, but also variable axle loadings. As Mark Warrington, managing director of Whale Tankers, points out, vehicles of this type start their rounds fully front-end loaded with clean jetting water, but end them fully rear-loaded, with dirty water and sludge. And that's not all: "With the part-load problem and fact that we're dealing with liquids, and that a lot of our tankers are tippers that may have to go off-road, you have to deal with the potential for surge, as well as variable load distribution," he explains.
That's all about designing for a low centre of gravity and ensuring adequate tank baffles, while also staying within the chassis manufacturer's loading envelope – something that Whale manages using its 3D engineering software. Equally, though, it's about the practicalities of air suspension versus parabolic springs on the rear, while bearing in mind the value of certain manufacturers' torsional rear axle systems.
Beyond that, Warrington says: "We also need power takeoffs and connections into the ECU. And we need more than just throttle data at particular speeds: we need multiple equipment speeds, which we can then program via the J1939 interface, so that, for example, we can ramp the jetting pump down, if it hasn't been used, to improve economics and efficiency. We tend to work with the chassis manufacturers' applications engineers, so we can issue a chassis spec sheet to the dealer."
Returning to SP Holding's latest tanker, the vehicle made its debut at the Expo 2010 PSE exhibition, where Whale Tankers also put in its inaugural appearance. The tanker joins an SP Holding fleet that is now 58-strong, some 50% of which are Whale tankers. And SP Holding has now ordered a further six Whale tankers, valued at around £500,000.
DAF Trucks Ltd
Whale Tankers Ltd
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