M&S Cuts Carbon With Teardrop Trailers

15th December 2007

M&S Logo

Marks & Spencer is set to become the first company in the world to use a revolutionary, new articulated trailer, whose teardrop shape reduces CO2 emissions by 20% , when compared to a standard cab-trailer fleet operation.

Following successful controlled testing of a prototype, M&S has ordered the first 140 trailers, which have been developed and manufactured by Don-Bur, the market champions for innovative and operationally efficient commercial vehicle bodywork.

The lightweight trailer can carry up to 16% more load – equivalent to 10,560 extra pairs of knickers - than a standard trailer. Its aerodynamic shape also delivers a 10% fuel saving. This shatters the long-held belief in the trucking industry that you cannot improve fuel efficiency without compromising load capacity. M&S’ 141 Teardrop trailers will reduce its carbon footprint by 840 tonnes every year.

The Don-Bur Teardrop trailers mimic the perfect aerodynamic lines of a teardrop, whilst increasing internal load space. The roof has a specially designed full-length curve and corners are rounded off to improve air flow, while the gap between the truck and trailer is minimised to reduce turbulence and skirts under the trailer further minimise the drag factor.

Simon Ratcliffe, General Merchandise Logistics Director at Marks & Spencer commented: “The Teardrop trailers are another step in our efforts to take our UK and Irish operations carbon neutral under Plan A, M&S’ five-year eco-plan. Don-Bur’s revolutionary design has helped us not only reduce fuel usage and carbon emissions, but also allows us to carry more stock per trailer, cutting the number of journeys we need to make.”

David Burton, Sales Director at Don-Bur said: “Increasing fuel efficiency without reducing load capacity has been a conundrum that has faced the logistics industry for many years. The Teardrop trailer has solved this problem at a time when responsible organisations are looking to run transport networks which are both efficient and environmentally-friendly. We are delighted that Marks & Spencer has recognised the potential of the Teardrop model for its own business.”

Saving Weight

Following successful trials, M&S has specified lightweight “Technolite” aluminium panelling, resulting in an unladen trailer weight of just 6860kgs; a saving of 640kgs in comparison to their existing trailers. Don-Burs’ 20mm thick Technolite® panelling comprises a strong aluminium structure foil honeycomb core, faced with aluminium sheeting, a well proven product with excellent rigidity that has been in use in the aircraft industry for many years. It can be completely and cost-effectively recycled, does not deteriorate (even when damaged), is easy to repair and gives a smooth engineered finish; ideal for livery application.

Trial Detail

The Teardrop trailers are used on trunking operations for general merchandise, transporting stock between M&S suppliers and Distribution Centres. DHL Exel Supply Chain, who manage the M&S contract, were invited to carry out controlled tests on a Teardrop prototype (delivered in April 2007) to validate the potential fuel savings and payload increase.

All Fuel Figures derived from actual pumped fuel

Test 1

For the purpose of the trial, two trailers (Teardrop vs. comparison trailer) were run at the same time; one behind the other at a distance so that one would not be affected by the slipstream of the other. Both trailers carried the same payload weight. To average any driver or tractor variances, the drivers were swapped in equal timescales, as were the tractor units. The comparison trailer was an existing M&S tandem axle 13.6m box van with similar specifications, without the Teardrop shape or Technolite panelling.

  • Based - London
  • Depots - Nottingham, Swindon, Manchester, Northampton, Enfield, Peterborough, Mansfield, Leicester
  • Total Mileage - 1,400 km
  • Environmental Factors:
    • Weather – varying, predominantly night operation, traffic congestion - low
  • Tractor Specification:
    • DAF CF75.360, both Euro 4 and 5
  • Drivers:
    • DHL drivers
  • Loading Patterns:
    • Run 700 kms empty and 700 kms fully loaded (14T payload)

Test 2

  • Standard Network Operation
  • Based – Leicester Sorting Depot:
    • Depots - London DC, Thurrock, Nottingham, Manchester
  • Total Mileage - 4,600 km
  • Tractor Specification:
    • Mix of DAF CF75.360 Euro 3,4 and 5 Tractors

RECORDED FUEL SAVING

10.14% less fuel

LOAD

Teardrop - 1248 sets per trailer using 4 tiers vs. Standard - 1079 sets using 3 tiers

up to 16% extra actual load