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’10 Year Trailer’ Is Verspeeten’s Strategy to Succeed in Waste Hauling

Tue September 20, 2011 - National Edition
CEG


1. The Paramax suspension provided the Verspeeten fleet of Titan Trailers the additional clearance and protection against air bag and tire damage.
1. The Paramax suspension provided the Verspeeten fleet of Titan Trailers the additional clearance and protection against air bag and tire damage.
1. The Paramax suspension provided the Verspeeten fleet of Titan Trailers the additional clearance and protection against air bag and tire damage. 2. Scott Verspeeten and one of his Titan 10 year trailers, which are becoming part of the landscape of southwestern Ontario. 3. People are seeing a lot of these on the highway between Toronto and London.

For those who regularly travel the Highway 401 corridor west of Toronto, Ontario, the sudden influx of sleek aluminum transfer trailers painted with the words “Driven to Succeed” was an unmistakeable change in the local landscape.

The larger fleet of smoothside trailers built by Titan Trailers is a new addition for Verspeeten Cartage, based in Ingersoll, Ontario. Verspeeten is well known in the area, principally as a full-load carrier with a record of providing just-in-time service to the automotive assembly plants throughout North America. In January of 2011, however, Verspeeten’s distinctive new equipment began to roll out on the highway with 60 loads of municipal trash per day to deliver from Toronto to the city’s new Green Lane landfill site 120 mi. west, near the city of London.

Verspeeten had taken on trash contracts in the past, but nothing on this scale. The Toronto contract required the purchase of 37 new moving floor trailers. For Scott Verspeeten, general manager, making the right business decision for the new fleet was an easy one.

“We wanted a 10 year trailer,” Verspeeten said. “We didn’t go anywhere else.”

Verspeeten was already familiar with Titan Trailers when Toronto released its tender for the Green Lane project. Established in 1953 and now operating a fleet of more than 1,400 units, his firm first began hauling waste from Toronto to Michigan in 1998. Titan, also headquartered in southern Ontario, had been making a name for itself in the waste industry with its thinwall body construction, based on a lightweight interlocking extruded aluminum panel designed by the company’s president, Mike Kloepfer. In 2003, Verspeeten bought its first Titan trailer, but opted at the time for traditional steel post and panel trailers.

Changes in the Business

“Trailer weight was not so important then as it is now,” he explained. “We simply ordered the Titan equipment to match the other traditional transfer trailers in our fleet.”

By the time of the Green Lane tender, though, the business profile had changed. At the old Michigan landfill, trailers unloaded on a tipper stand and the site maintained a clear lane to the tipper. At the new landfill, the trailers simply drive over the trash to their designated unloading area to self-unload with a moving floor.

More importantly, Verspeeten’s customers are now paying its contractors by the truckload, not by weight. They demand maximum weights on every load, so the payload capacity of the trailer became a significant factor in Verspeeten’s bid.

For Verspeeten, the highway distances, the site conditions and the payload requirements all weighed in favor of Titan’s thinwall trailers. The extruded panel of the thinwall body are assembled horizontally, allowing the trailer to resist twisting stresses as it flexes over uneven ground. The all-aluminum body achieves significant weight reductions while the extruded hollow-core panel allows higher cubic capacity than traditional post and panel trailers. With the new trailers, Verspeeten can deliver on the customers’ goal of maximizing the amount of waste moved in every load, according to the company.

At the Toronto transfer station, Verspeeten’s closed-top trailers are loaded using compactors that can add severe stresses to the sidewalls and bulkheads. But Verspeeten is confident that the thinwall body can take the compaction stresses and still live out the 10 year span he required for his business plan.

“The bulkheads were bowing under the pressure,” he said, “but they returned to form as soon as the load came off. There was no stress cracking we could see at all.”

Since then, Verspeeten has worked with the transfer station operators to moderate compaction pressures and to distribute loads more evenly.

“Compaction amplifies any irregularities in loading,” he continued. “Too much wet material concentrated at the front can get us into trouble at the scales. We’ve had great cooperation to make the project work for everyone.”

Getting It Right the First Time

While the Titan thinwall body offers inherent advantages for this application, Verspeeten also found that Titan and its local dealer, Titan Trailer Sales of Brantford, Ontario, also were willing and knowledgeable partners in developing the best trailer for the job.

“We wanted a flawless start,” said Verspeeten. “Our plan was to buy one early, to run it through the spring and summer, monitor results in our shop and give the feedback to Titan before the new trailers went into production.”

Titan supplied a prototype to test out the design on the loading areas of the transfer stations and landfills served by Verspeeten. To ensure consistent reporting to the maintenance and engineering group, Verspeeten assigned one driver to pull the test trailer.

“Mike Kloepfer Titan’s president and members of the Titan design team came right down to the loading facilities with us to see how our trailers were getting loaded; they looked at the ramps and the scales. The people from Titan Trailer Sales, Rob Janiec and Gary Luska, were there, too. We appreciated that they all made so much effort to make sure we had what we needed. Mike Kloepfer, he’s not your typical owner. He gets right in there. He’s very hands-on and, you can tell. It flows down through his management and all his people. They’re all the same. Getting it right was as important to them as it was to us,” Verspeeten said.

Making Good Ideas Better

One result of the trial run was a design update to Titan’s recently launched Paramax steering axle suspension. Titan developed the Paramax system specifically for off-road requirements, but the Verspeeten driver reported that at some of the transfer stations, the steering axles were still rubbing over the ground while in the lift position as the trailer rolled through a hole. Titan modified the axles with longer shocks and switched to low profile super single tires providing the Paramax suspension with 10 in. (25.4 cm) of up-travel. With the new design, Verspeeten has seen no issues with air bag damage or tire wear, the company said.

Titan experimented with more design ideas in an effort to improve fuel efficiency, durability and overall profitability before Verspeeten gave the go-ahead to build the next 36 trailers.

“Sometimes, they would see issues before we did, and came right in to make a change. They suggested the Keith V-Floor unloader to us; the lighting, plumbing, aluminum rims, landing gear and running gear... and they coordinated our meetings with the different suppliers to help us finalize our selection and specs. It’s all the higher end stuff that will last the life of the trailer. When you look in the back at that V-Floor, you can see it — that’s going to be one tough floor. They changed the back door to suit different compactors. Their idea for an aerodynamic roofline didn’t work out for us, because all our company tractors have deflectors; but then one of our owner-operators asked us specially for that trailer because, without a deflector, it was saving him a lot of diesel,” Verspeeten said.

Running With the 10 Year Trailer

The final configuration chosen for the contract is a 51 ft. (15.5 m) 5-axle trailer with IMT SmartSteer axles on the Paramax suspension and with the extreme-duty V9 model V-Floor self-unloader system from Keith walking floor. Verspeeten said that his drivers also agree with the company’s choice.

“They’re on the 401 about 90 percent of their time. They say sometimes they don’t even think the trailer is back there. There are some hills along the route where they know they usually have to downshift. But with these trailers, they don’t even have to drop a gear, and they’re hauling maybe three or four tons more than the old trailers.

“After seeing how these work, I wouldn’t think of buying anything else. Knowing what they can do, and all their help to get this job started, it will really help us to bid competitively next time. We’ve got our 10 year trailer, and our customer is getting the heavy weights they require.”

For more information, call 519/688-4826 or visit www.titantrailers.com.