Heavy truck trailer and rigid body builder Schmitz Cargobull is entering the last-mile delivery market for the first time with a lightweight dry freight box body for 3.0-to-6.0-tonne gross weight chassis.
Now in production at the German company’s Berlin plant, the VK.O Dry body is offered as a kit which can then be assembled by light commercial manufacturers, body builders and fleets with their own workshops.
The plant can turn out 7,500 kits annually. Using bonded construction, each kit can be put together in as little as an hour and 20 minutes but the vehicle then needs to stand for around six-to-eight hours while the adhesive cures.
Said to be lighter and less-expensive than aluminium equivalents, the newly-developed 20mm-thick Stratoplast sandwich panels used include a polyurethane foam core sourced from BASF. They also feature two layers of composite material which incorporate metallic chips.
The composite layers are there to diffuse vapour and prevent damp seeping in. If the panels get damp the vehicle’s unladen weight will rise, their insulation value will fall and they will slowly deteriorate.
With inner and outer skins made from glass-reinforced plastic, the recyclable panels feature plastic rails designed to making assembly easier and their inherent strength means they do not have to be hung on a supporting frame.
Twin barn-type back doors are fitted as standard but the body can be prepared to take a tail-lift platform and an upper flap as the rear closure.
Customers can choose either a translucent or a sandwich-type roof and the load area floor features a 150mm-high scuff rail. An LED roof light with a motion sensor is included.
A nearside door is among the options on a list that includes a cab-top air deflector sourced from Volkswagen, a set of steps to make rear access easier, load lashing rails, a side access door and a reversing camera.
The kit is shipped on a vertical carrier with the parts packed in the right order for assembly and can be delivered within 14 working days, says Schmitz. Brackets on the body’s supporting beams are positioned in line with the chassis it is going to be mounted on.
VK.O Dry is certified to European Union load containment standard DIN EN 12642 and has been successfully subjected to stresses of up to 4G at Schmitz’s in-house test centre.
“Schmitz Cargobull has plenty of products that can be used for long-haul distribution, but, up until now, we haven’t had something that can be used for last-mile delivery,” says Schmitz Cargobull Van Bodies chief executive officer Guido Schoepker. “We’ve introduced it because we know that we’ve got to provide a whole range of transport solutions.”
Schmitz refrigerated bodies starting at 6m long for heavy trucks grossing at 12 tonnes and upwards are already assembled in the UK by West Midlands body builder Bevan. They employ Ferroplast panels with a polyurethane foam core and steel inner and outer skins.
The German manufacturer has as yet made no mention of plans to expand its light commercial line-up further with the introduction of tippers, dropsides and fridge boxes.
European truck trailer market leader with 25% of all sales, Schmitz built more than 61,000 trailers in 2017/18 and aims to boost output to 67,000 in 2018/19.
It has recently introduced new products and re-engineered existing ones and is busy developing its telematics system. The system is primarily designed for trailers, but could be applied to some of Schmitz’s larger rigid bodies.
At its heart is a new piece of onboard hardware known as the CTU-3 which keeps tabs on all of the body’s functions including the refrigeration unit, where applicable. The new TrailerConnect Portal 2.0 allows the data it records to be viewed remotely online, the fridge unit’s temperature to be set and the body’s doors locked and unlocked remotely.
Schmitz has also introduced an app for drivers under the beSmart banner which allows them to control the fridge unit and door-locking mechanism themselves.