Wabash composite prototype reefer trailer begins 100 unit, four fleet test

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Updated Mar 2, 2017
Wabash National will be testing 100 of their composite reefer units. This one is headed to Sioux City, Iowa carrier K&B Transportation.Wabash National will be testing 100 of their composite reefer units. This one is headed to Sioux City, Iowa carrier K&B Transportation.

Wabash National is moving forward with plans for a new composite reefer trailer the company debuted early last year by going from the concept to proof of concept stage.

At the Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Wabash president Dick Giromini said the company currently has 100 prototypes on the road spread among four fleets.

The test units will gather data for the next year and a half – data the company expects will help drive refinements for production models that Giromini hopes will be available for the 2020 model year.

Wabash Vice President of Product Engineering Robert Lane says the molded structural composite with thermal technology (MSCT) reefer has already undergone internal testing.

A fully-loaded MSCT reefer is currently being tested through cycles on Bosch proving grounds, but Lane says Wabash is anxious to finally test the real world road worthiness of its conceptual design.

“We’re comfortable with the technology,” he says. “In fact, we’ve had it on the road now for almost two years on a truck body in Canada, and we’ve been able to pull that back and look at it and make sure we haven’t had issues with it. Testing has been very positive.”

In a reefer unit, Lane says Wabash’s MSCT will improve thermal efficiency by up to 25 percent and will be 20 percent lighter than comparative reefer trailer.

“Not only is it a cost savings to the customers from an operating cost standpoint,” Giromini says, “it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.”

The lighter weight MSCT reefer comes with added rigidity. Lane says the composite material improves puncture and damage resistance and offers a molded structural composite floor with a rating of up to 24,000 lb – 50 percent percent higher than most conventional reefer floor ratings.

“We did a 24,000 load test with this design,” Lane says, “and it passed.”

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at jasoncannon@randallreilly.com.