If you’ve spent any time traveling the highway recently, you’ve likely noticed a new trend amongst big-rigs and tractor-trailers: skirts. No, not the type of skirt your mother wears – these aerodynamic trailer skirts are the latest fad for fleets across the nation.
What Is An Aerodynamic Trailer Skirt?
An aerodynamic trailer skirt, also known as a side skirt, is a device that can be affixed to the back or underside of a semi-truck for the purpose of reducing drag caused by air turbulence.
What Are The Benefits of Using A Trailer Skirt?
Though these devices might appear odd, they serve several useful purposes.
- Trailer skirts improve fuel efficiency
Sure, boxy trailers are great for quickly packing materials, but their large size and angular shape makes them fuel-guzzling beasts. Though tractors themselves have evolved to become more aerodynamic over the years, the trailers have been largely ignored.
Drag is created from pockets of turbulence both underneath and behind these trailers, which requires more energy and fuel. However, with the addition of a trailer skirt, tractor-trailers can improve their fuel efficiency up to 5% simply because it reduces drag.
- More oil savings
When paired with the aerodynamic nose of the trailer, tractor skirts can improve the overall efficiency of a long-haul tractor-trailer by nearly 50% – that is nearly 250 million barrels of oil savings each year for a long-haul fleet.
- They are easy to use
When aerodynamic trailer skirts were first introduced, many drivers were concerned about how difficult they would be to use. Though drivers must be mindful when backing up with a trailer skirt attached, the flaps are easy to install and operate. They simply fold in and out and can easily be adjusted when opening the back doors of the trailer.
Why Are We Just Now Seeing These Skirts?
The history of aerodynamic trailer skirts dates back to 1935, when similar devices were created for rail cars. Despite being around for more than eight decades, skirts didn’t really gain popularity until 2008, in response to rising fuel prices and growing environmental concerns.
How Do Aerodynamic Trailer Skirts Work?
Speaking in terms of physics, the drag of a trailer increases with the square of velocity – meaning the faster the rig travels, the more drag it creates. Thus, reducing drag is much more important when the average speed of a truck increases. And that is where trailer skirts come into play – these panels become incredibly beneficial in breaking drag when the rig reaches an average speed of 60-65 miles per hour.
To better understand the benefits of a trailer skirt, it’s helpful to consider a real-life situation. Let’s say you have a long-haul trailer that travels an average of 60,000 miles each year. By adding a tail skirt, you can save approximately 480 gallons of diesel fuel and 4.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Aerodynamic trailer skirts aren’t the answer for every truck in every fleet. They are, however, ideal for long-haul rigs that travel long distances at fast speeds.
How Can You Make Your Fleet “Green”?
At FleetServ, we go above and beyond to help you make your fleet as environmentally friendly as possible. We offer an array of diesel emissions services that help improve the efficiency of your fleet, including:
- Installation of emissions control devices such as diesel particulate filters (DPFs), diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), selective catalytic reduction (SCRs), and closed crankcase ventilation (CCVs).
- Installation of idle reduction technology like auxiliary power units (APUs), fuel operated direct fired heaters (FOH/DFHs), and auto shutdown systems.
- Installation of greenhouse gas reduction technology like aerodynamic trailer skirting and low resistance rolling tires.
As the owner or manager of a fleet, it’s necessary to understand the importance of retrofit technology. Our expert services will save you both time and money, and you can rest assured you’re getting the best service in the business. We promise fast turn-around times, high quality work, long lasting parts, competitive pricing and honest, friendly advice. Contact FleetServ today to get your fleet up-to-date on the latest and greatest diesel emissions technology.