A new line of agricultural hopper trailers from Titan Trailers introduces a unibody design that increases overall strength while increasing load capacity by more than 2,000 lbs. (907 kg).
As factory staff prepared the newest engineering development from Titan Trailers, founder and president Mike Kloepfer set his mind back to the origins of his firm.
“We started out with the newest ideas in grain trailers for local farm truckers. Forty years later, after everything Titan has built, here we are rolling out a completely unique concept in grain trailer design. Again.”
The latest innovation from the fertile minds of Titan engineering is a hopper trailer that sheds more than 2,000 lbs. (907 kg) from the weight of previous trailers, offering operators the potential to earn dramatic increases in their profit-per-load, according to the manufacturer.
Unibody: The Right Idea
Kloepfer took on the effort to rethink hopper design early in 2012. Still closely connected to farm communities, he understood that lower weight was still their ultimate goal when purchasing a new grain trailer.
“We didn't set out to create a unibody trailer,” said Kloepfer. “We were out to see how much weight we could take out of a grain trailer without compromising strength and performance. When we combined the modular hopper structure with our THINWALL aluminum body, we realized we had a unibody design. Unibody was the solution, not the objective.”
At Home in Farming Country
Kloepfer himself grew up in the small town of Harley, Ontario, located in the rich stretch of Ontario farm country that's bisected by the Highway 401 corridor from Quebec to Michigan. Truckers and farmers have always been part of his daily life. A tireless builder with an inquisitive mind, he turned his barn into a workshop at a young age to begin hand-building trailers for friends, neighbors and even family. Hopper trailers were a new idea at the time, so Kloepfer made it his business to deliver them to local customers. New ideas are still the driving force behind the success that Kloepfer and his company enjoy today.
Trimming Out a Ton of Excess Weight
Unibody brings together Titan's signature THINWALL extruded aluminum body and a new modular hopper design. In true unibody fashion, the outer skin welded to the internal hopper structure achieves uniform strength and resilience throughout the trailer, while discarding the weight of the traditional chassis. The efficient design allows Titan to prebuild its hopper sections and simplify final assembly with the THINWALL body. Its center section is a key point of the trailer's strength. It acts as a 3 ft. (.9 m) high support beam that eliminates the need for heavy crossmembers.
Further weight reductions were achieved with an aluminum 5th wheel assembly and landing gear. By eliminating crossmembers from the design, Titan was able to set the hoppers lower in the body and reduce the overall height of the trailers. With both the 4-axle and 5-axle units that were at the Titan display in the Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock, Ontario, the sidewalls are now 6 in. (15 cm) lower than previous models. The unibody feature provides better visibility into the trailer while being top loaded. As well, the trailers actually sit lower than the roof of the trucks, so there's less wind drag and as a result, less fuel is consumed on the highway, according to the manufacturer.
Details for Strength and Productivity
Conversations with his farm customers suggested more ideas to Kloepfer that he could incorporate into the new hopper design. The rear door opens and closes hydraulically with no gearbox to service. A redesigned top sill is now integrated into a one-piece extrusion with the top sidewall extrusion. The top rail also has been rounded to minimize wear on tarps.
“The farmers I know tend to run from the field to the elevator in the summer, then from the elevator to the processing plant in winter, so we could really see the need to suit both applications in one design,” Kloepfer said. “We were able to decrease weight while we increased strength substantially by putting metal in just the right places.
High-Lift Suspension System Standard
The hopper trailers also take advantage of another Titan innovation to smooth out the bumps and rolls of travelling over farm lanes and fields. Paramax high-lift steering axle suspensions, introduced by Titan in 2011, provide a full 10 in. (25.4 cm) of lift to avoid damage to the trailer and extend tire life on rough terrain while providing a 30 degree turn radius on the road. SPIF compliant Paramax systems are specified as standard equipment on all Titan unibody hoppers.
Expanding the Line-Up
The first 4-axle and 5-axle models of the unibody hopper trailer will operate in Ontario, Quebec, New York and Michigan, and are recommended for a wide range of bulk farm materials including corn and grains, soy beans, sand, whole grains and meals. These units will soon be followed by new models including 6-axle and 7-axle trailers for Ontario and Quebec as well as tridem and B-Train models for use throughout North America.
For more information, www.titantrailers.com.