Composites – the great enabler for transport aerodynamics – Aerotrans Australia (VIC)

Fuel price fluctuations pose a significant challenge for the trucking industry to overcome. Improving a truck’s aerodynamics directly enhances its efficiency and fuel savings by mitigating aerodynamic resistance, a force that escalates exponentially with speed. This resistance is a primary consumer of energy, notably affecting the fuel economy of heavy-duty trucks on motorways

Written by Kerryn Caulfield, Executive Director, Composites Australia Inc.

Specifically, at higher speeds, air resistance can cause up to a third of fuel losses in long-haul diesel operations and even more in battery electric trucks, where energy losses might reach 50 per cent. Aerodynamic optimisation, aiming to delay or minimise air flow separation from the truck’s body, becomes crucial. Air flow separation leads to turbulence and a larger wake behind the vehicle, increasing pressure drag significantly. Effective aerodynamic designs reduce this separation, diminishing drag and thus enhancing fuel efficiency and reducing environmental impact.

Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Rowville, Victoria, Aerotrans Australia specialises in the manufacture and retrofitting of aerodynamic transport products, marketed under the ‘Aeroz-Products’ brand. Company founder Nigel Fletcher’s insights into the automotive industry and composite technologies stem from his previous career at Repco, a manufacturer, reseller and supplier of automotive parts and accessories in Australia and throughout the world. Leveraging his extensive background, Nigel has developed a national network of clients and authorised aftermarket fitters for Aeroz-Products. This network facilitated the acceptance and market penetration of Aeroz- Products, establishing the company as a leading manufacturer of aerodynamic truck fairings and accessories for trucks and vans.

Aerotrans Fuel scoop
Aeroz-Products are tailored to fit and optimise the aerodynamics of a range of truck makes and models, improving fuel efficiency and the overall performance and economy of the vehicle.

Maximising aerodynamics involves precision engineering, which has been applied across the Aerotrans Australia product offering including its range of fittings of ‘Fuelscoop’, ‘Fridgescoop’, ‘Nosecone’ and ‘Fuels Skirts’. Aeroz-Products are tailored to fit and optimise the aerodynamics of a range of truck makes and models. This not only improves fuel efficiency but also contributes to the overall performance and economy of the vehicle. Foundation products, such as the ‘Fuelscoop’ and the ‘Nosecone,’ are designed for distinct purposes, each contributing significantly to vehicle efficiency and performance.

‘Fuelscoop’, the company’s flagship product, is an air deflector for truck cabins, redirecting airflow to minimise drag. This air deflection boosts fuel efficiency, enhances stability and safety at high speeds, and the range covers most truck models and sizes. Its significant fuel savings, reduced drivetrain wear, and safety benefits make it a favoured new truck and aftermarket modification.

The Nosecone is a frontal air deflector for trailers and cargo boxes, designed to minimise impact drag and reduce air resistance. It assists airflow around the cargo area’s front corners and sides, significantly cutting drag. Ideal for vehicles with boxy cargo spaces, the Nosecone, while not as effective as Fuelscoop, is the minimum requirement in reducing fuel consumption by minimising turbulence.

“Our aerodynamic components play a crucial role in functionality and must remain lightweight as well as economically viable. Fibreglass combines strength and durability with lightness, meeting these requirements. This deliberate choice of materials avoids the drawbacks of added weight,” advised Nigel.

Aerotrans aerodynamic fittings
Aerotrans Australia product offering includes named fitting, ‘Fuelscoop’, ‘Fridgescoop’, ‘Nosecone’ and ‘Fuels Skirts’.

With the largest Australian trucks covering an average of 2 million kilometres and the nation’s trucking fleet averaging 15 years of age, heavy vehicles withstand a relentless barrage of environmental and operational stresses over a lifetime. Enduring everything from sub-zero winter temperatures to scorching summer heatwaves with desert temperatures nearing 50 degrees Celsius while traversing the country, requires durable materials made with sound chemistry. “For resistance to weathering and protection from road debris, ensuring vehicle integrity and appearance, we’ve relied on allnex gelcoat for many years,” Nigel states, emphasising the durability and protective qualities essential for Aerotrans Australia components.

Fuelscoop offers significant extra income opportunities for companies with EV fleets.
With an extra 10-15 per cent travel range for electric vehicles, Fuelscoop offers significant extra income opportunities for companies with EV fleets.

Aerotrans recognised an opportunity in the USA, to supply Fuelscoop to the Japanese and US domestic medium-duty truck market. “COVID-19 dramatically impacted on our initial growth, but prior to that we established sales for all relevant makes and models, with fuel savings testimonials between 15 and 27 per cent. Post Covid, Aerotrans has changed strategy aligning the future of Aeroz-Products in North America with a company in Buffalo, Minnesota; one known to us for a decade.” advised Nigel.

As the demand for transportation is likely to continue to grow into the foreseeable future, Aerotrans Australia’s efforts in developing and manufacturing fibreglass aerodynamic fittings for trucks not only support the economic objectives of trucking companies worldwide but also contribute to the broader societal goal of reducing environmental footprints. Further to this, with an extra 10-15 per cent travel range for electric vehicles, Fuelscoop offers significant extra income opportunities for companies with EV fleets.

At highway speeds, over half the energy used by your truck is required to overcome aerodynamic drag…..Fitting aerodynamic cab deflectors can improve fuel efficiency by at least ten per cent and in some cases more than 20 per cent (depending on the body fitted and the load carried). Close coupling – minimising the gap between the rear of the prime mover and trailer/body also dramatically reduces drag. A reduction of aerodynamic drag of 25 percent will reduce highway fuel consumption by 10-15 percent. Victorian Transport Association.