Simple ideas are often the most exciting
LET'S face it - at the end of the day a trailer is just a big box on wheels. Nothing to get too excited about here, right?
But when MaxiTrans is happy to fly trucking journalists in from around the country to check out their latest creation, one has to expect that it will be something pretty good.
The Freighter brand has just released the AutoHold system to complement their stable of innovative load restraint systems.
As the name suggests, AutoHold is an auto-fastening load restraint TautLiner trailer.
This development has changed the original concept to a point that has allowed Freighter to patent their system.
In essence, at the touch of a button, AutoHold locks down the curtains sequentially, starting at each end and working towards the centre of the curtain.
The benefit of this system is that it removes the chances of the locking clasps missing their lockdown points.
As each end locks the curtain in, it draws the centre of the curtain closer towards the trailer rail. Even in blustery conditions, this system remains effective.
MaxiTrans Stuart McMurtry says: "We expect time savings of around 15 minutes per stop. Time is money, particularly where multiple daily unloading is a requirement of the job."
It's also 15 minutes that the driver doesn't have to stand out in the elements.
"Together with pneumatic unfastening, fastening is operated by a spring return, assisted by pneumatic control, with an over-centre lock to fully secure the locked position. As a further failsafe, should drivers ever get stuck without access to air, the curtains will fasten via its spring system, meaning they can get back to the depot and not be left stranded, unable to close them," Mr Colosimo said.
AutoHold is available in two variants - with or without curtain buckles.
There are advantages to both systems. The buckled set-up allows drivers to adjust curtain tension themselves at any time - although Colosimo says that this will be only on rare occasions.
The buckle-less model calls for retensioning to be carried out in the workshop from time to time for simple adjustment to check and retain load restraint compliance.
The major advantage of this system is that it looks pretty swish and makes for an unobstructed curtain space for advertising.
Anything to combat wind resistance - no matter how small - would be of benefit as well, given the mammoth operating costs of heavy vehicles.
As the second half of the AutoHold name suggests, these curtains are fitted with Freighter's tried and tested LoadHold curtains, which eliminate the need for conventional gates for most loads.
No gates mean better health and safety outcomes for drivers.
AutoHold has been certified to meet the NTC Load Restraint guidelines for a unitised load of at least 1250kg per pallet space, but if you need more just ask for it when ordering. Freighter will happily come to the party.
"Freighter, through the MaxiTrans group has the biggest dealer network in the country," said Colosimo.
"Wherever you are, one of our dealerships is not far away which is peace of mind in the unlikely event of needing assistance."
So, does the system work as well as they say?
On a cold, blustery day outside their Derrimut factory we watched both variants being opened and closed a dozen times.
With an icy wind at hand trying its darndest to blow the TautLiners away from the bottom rail, the AutoHold system never missed a beat, or a latch.
They say the simple things in life are often the best and this is a really simple system that operated flawlessly in our time with it. Of course "simple" systems require a hell of a lot of research and testing to make them simple.
Freighter appears to have crossed all its t's and dotted its i's with regard to its AutoHold.
Typical to form, MaxiTrans has had a couple of trailers out in real world testing with transport companies who have raved about the reliability and time- saving benefits of the system and orders are already coming in.
Who would have thought that one could get thrilled about a box, but in this case I've gotta say: "I'm excited!".