Headwinds with an effect – less fuel consumption and less CO2: Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Vion Food Group, Schmitz Cargobull and Betterflow present the highly efficient semitrailer tractor combination
- Aerodynamically optimised truck in use at Vion Food Group aims to reduce fuel consumption by eight percent
- The tricks up its sleeve: a Mercedes-Benz Actros 1848 LS 4x2 with MirrorCam, concave cab side deflectors and the pre-emptive Predictive Powertrain Control cruise control system, all of which make a major contribution to reducing fuel consumption
- Increased efficiency thanks to collaboration with aerodynamics specialist Betterflow and commercial vehicle bodybuilder Schmitz Cargobull
Crailsheim/Stuttgart/Vreden/Aachen – International foodstuffs producer Vion wants to significantly reduce its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions over the coming years. The company has set itself the aim of reducing its emissions in German meat distribution operations by eight percent. In order to achieve this target, the company has started a pilot project with a renowned partner from the logistics sector. Together with Mercedes-Benz Trucks, trailer manufacturer Schmitz Cargobull and the aerodynamic design specialists at Betterflow, the first of these optimised trucks will now start operations. In line with this project, Vion opted for the already fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz Actros 1848 LS 4x2.
Fuel consumption and CO2 reductions are currently among the biggest challenges facing the road haulage sector. And in this area, it's not just the drive system of the truck itself which is of crucial importance, but also the trailer design, the tyres and, of course, also the roads on which the truck operates. Aerodynamics is a factor which has a massive influence on fuel consumption and thus also on CO2 emissions. In particular, angular edges on the vehicles can prevent air from flowing freely around it. On modern truck combinations, there are various challenges in this respect, such as the gaps between the tractor unit and the trailer. Air flows create negative pressure in these areas which the truck must subsequently overcome. To overcome this resistance alone, an incredible 13 litres of fuel per 100 km are consumed – that's more than a third of the available mechanical energy.
The Actros with optimised aerodynamics and fuel efficiency
"With its diverse aerodynamics features, the Actros is the ideal truck for making a step in the direction of environmentally friendly transport and reducing the emissions of Vion's vehicle fleet. The truck is equipped with the MirrorCam system which is located on the roof frame and replaces the traditional outside mirrors. The camera's image tracks the vehicle's movement when turning or changing lanes, thus enabling better all-round visibility. What's more, MirrorCam has an especially compact and aerodynamic design. This also helps to keep the fuel consumption of the Actros down by as much as 1.5 percent," explains Joachim Schlereth, Head of Sales at Mercedes-Benz Trucks Germany. Further to this, the concave cab side deflectors help optimise the truck's Cd value even further and thus also its consumption. A further highlight which increases the truck's efficiency is the further-improved Predictive Powertrain Control. This system detects the course of the road and adapts the vehicle's driving behaviour to this, such that as much as 5 percent less fuel is consumed on out-of-town roads. To ensure greater comfort on-board the vehicle, too, Vion has opted for the L-cab StreamSpace with level floor and the Multimedia Cockpit, interactive. The Actros is also exemplary in terms of safety: the truck is equipped on the one hand with Proximity Control Assist, Attention Assist and Sideguard Assist. While on the other, the vehicle also features the latest-generation emergency braking assistant Active Brake Assist 5 with pedestrian recognition. Plus, Active Drive Assist is also on-board and enables semi-autonomous driving in all speed ranges, whilst also ensuring that appropriate distance is maintained and that the vehicle stays in its lane.
Autohaus Widmann GmbH & Co. KG is the Mercedes-Benz dealer which looks after Vion and which provided the Actros. Besides their location in Aalen, south-west Germany, Widmann GmbH & Co. KG also has branches in Bavaria, Saxony and Brandenburg with around 1150 employees working at a total of 12 locations. The two companies have formed an intense partnership, which has been actively maintained with a number of projects. The best example of this is the creation of this new joint vehicle concept.
Betterflow aerodynamics package on the refrigerated box body from Schmitz Cargobull is especially frugal in long-distance haulage
In order to further optimise the vehicle, Vion is co-operating with Aachen-based start-up Betterflow. The aerodynamics specialists have optimised the shape of the trailer and, in 2020, put the vehicle through large-scale field tests covering more than 4 million kilometres to prove just how big the fuel savings are in real-world situations. The engineers from Aachen retrofitted three components to the semitrailer: underfloor panelling (LowFLOW), a trailer bulkhead front spoiler (HighFLOW) and the central component – the RearFLOW rear wing system – which automatically opens at a speed of 60 kilometres per hour and closes again when the vehicle is driving slowly. "The Cd value optimisations which result from the aerodynamics package were certified in 2019 by means of constant-speed tests on the Dekra test track, and can thus be integrated in the important EU VECTO programme which determines the CO2 characteristics of commercial vehicles and soon also the toll charge applicable to trucks," explains Betterflow's Managing Director, Dirk Sieprath. "Our components are a climate protection measure, which are also economically beneficial – they can be used problem-free with immediate effect all over Europe, because the RearFLOW system has type approval. It can even be retrofitted as an independent technological unit."
Now the Vion company has brought into operation the first semitrailer from Schmitz Cargobull which is equipped with the aerodynamics package from Betterflow. "Vion will be getting a Schmitz Cargobull trailer of the latest EcoGeneration. This trailer concept in itself makes a contribution towards greater fuel savings and lower CO2 emissions in road transport operations," explains Frank Reppenhagen, Head of Sales at Schmitz Cargobull for western Europe.
Sustainable delivery chains as a result of future-oriented mobility and logistics
"Just like us at Vion, anyone who wants to take responsibility along their entire supply chain for sustainable added value, cannot neglect the topics of mobility and logistics," says Vion's Head of Logistics, Sven Janssen. "With successive conversion of our fleet, we at Vion are making a clear step in the direction of a future-oriented food supply chain: if, for example, the aerodynamically optimised truck was to cover an average of 100,000 annual kilometres, we could save a total of half a million litres of diesel and 1500 tonnes of CO2."
Vion Holding N.V.
Vion is an international foodstuffs company which sells meat, meat-derived products and plant-based meat alternatives. Vion has production locations in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, as well as sales offices in 13 countries around the world.
Betterflow develops, produces and sells aerodynamics packages for semitrailers. With their automatic rear wing system, the Aachen-based company has presented a series-ready world first which, when coupled with other components, can drastically increase the efficiency of semitrailer combinations.
Established in 1892, Schmitz Cargobull is a German manufacturer of semitrailers, bodies and trailers. Thanks to their broad production network, the company's products are in operation all over Europe.