At the 2019 Commercial Vehicle Show, Don-Bur will be showing off their latest Lifting Deck trailer, engineered for optimal durability and to reduce maintenance by an estimated 12.2%. Over a 10 year lifespan, that saving would equate to £2,280 less in upkeep costs with an additional reduction in typical service downtime.
Hydraulically powered Lifting Deck trailers come with more advanced components than standard single deck trailers and, historically, have come with a higher annual maintenance cost to ensure smooth running and compliance with regulations such as LOLER. This ongoing cost may cause some operators to raise a wary eyebrow and deflect them away from an otherwise hard working and investment-rewarding work horse. Lifting Decks have come a long way since the original Don-Bur design in the late 1980’s and their current popularity are testament to their current reliability; however, the latest design addresses many operator fears and represents a significant leap forward in terms of part longevity and the integration of virtually maintenance-free elements.
In joint Culina / Warrens livery, the 13.6m long “Blade” panelled box van tri-axle trailer is one of a batch of eight, generates 127.6m3 of volume and comfortably takes 44 UK pallets. Standing at 4.92m (16’2”) high and, afforded by small 215/75 R17.5 wheels and a low main deck height of just 0.870m, means all decks provide at least a 1.9m high aperture. When raised, the upper lifting deck platform sits a generous 2.028m above the lower deck; offering ample head clearance when operating stand-on powered pallet trucks.
The core of the Don-Bur Lifting Deck design revolves around a single hydraulic ram principle. This ram is connected to high tension steel cables which are guided by a number of pulleys up a total of 4 side support columns. The “floating” upper deck platform is then suspended via attachment points within the support columns.
To significantly reduce maintenance, Don-Bur have explored several areas within this system:
One main critical service requirement is the correct lubrication of the ropes; 60% of which are located under the trailer. Although they are significantly protected against direct road spray and grime, they do need regular and thorough spray lubrication. This process ensures that the fibres of the steel cables move freely against each other when bending round various pulleys and prevents premature rope deterioration.
The new auto-lubrication system consists of a reservoir, a slow pump linked to deck movement, and six, strategically placed lubrication applicators which cover all rope lengths that are subject to more wear and tear. This constant drip-feed of a hydrophobic Brilube ensures that the ropes are constantly and evenly saturated; even to the core. The design of the applicators and the thixotropic nature of the lubricant itself prevents dripping or loss of excess fluid which means that the reservoir could last up to 12 months without the need for re-filling. The fill-level is easy to check and re-filling can be done either via an aperture in the top or a standard grease nipple.
Rope/ Cable Design
Even the rope design itself has been tweaked in recent times for optimal performance. Each 24.1T SWL rated cable now has a more ductile steel performance which allows it to bend around pulleys more easily. The wire/strand construction of the cable is also designed specifically with this application in mind. Lastly, Don-Bur have also altered the design of the end ferrules to allow greater flexibility and more accurate tensioning.
Each rope has to wind through a number of pulleys and the new machined aluminium fabrications have been re-designed with a specific recess profile to perfectly match the shaping of the 19mm cables as they pass around them. This optimisation reduces strain on the steel strands, prolongs the rope life and extends the life of the pulleys themselves.
Hydraulic Power Pack
Within the main hydraulic pack, Don-Bur have replaced the main valve manifold with a simpler design together with “screw” type valves which are more durable and easier to use. The oil reservoir has been changed from the historical steel design to an aluminium version which eliminates potential oxidisation inside the tank and prolongs the life of both the container and the oil itself.
Numerous positioning sensors have been changed from the previous laser optic design to an inductive proximity type. The newer versions are not as affected by debris and are more durable.
Guidance Rub Strips & Guide Blocks
Older designs typically used nylon rub strips to control excessive longitudinal/lateral movement of the deck as it raises or lowers. The more modern design uses a stainless steel version which has a far more durable surface hardness and does not deteriorate.
When the trailer body flexes, so too do the cable positions relative to other parts. To cater for this, Don-Bur have added guide blocks at various places to prevent ropes from rubbing against other components.
PSI Tyre Auto-Inflation
Maintaining optimal pressure in your tyres is a tricky and time-consuming exercise. More often than not, poor tyre pressure leads to uneven tread wear which reduces the tyres lifespan. The automatic inflation system maintains a constant set pressure unless the tyre is badly damaged. The system constantly monitors pressure in the tyres and, using pressure from the auxiliary tanks, allows a pulse of air to pass via the axle, and through into the tyre where a top-up is needed. As it does this, a clever actuator creates electricity which, in turn, turns on an LED light to indicate to a driver when the system is re-pressurising the tyres. The frequency of air pulse depends on the shortfall in pressure in the tyre so the lower the tyre pressure, the faster the system will pulse and the faster the LED will flash.
As well as reducing tyre wear, correct pressure in your tyres improves fuel economy, reduces the chance of tyre-related offences and improves safety and downtime.
The Don-Bur Lifting Deck exhibit is also bristling with a host of additional features for improved safety, increased durability, greater capacity and flexibility of operation:
Invented by Don-Bur, this batch of trailers comes fitted with EBS-Safe; a simple system to provide audio/visual alarms to the driver in the event that the EBS power is not connected.
The lack of ‘EBS’ is not well understood by many drivers but the effects can be disastrous. The ISO 7638 connection (commonly known as the EBS connection) provides data and power to the trailer’s brain which, in turn, affects braking reaction time, ABS, roll stability and suspension ride height.
With the EBS-Safe system fitted, if the EBS power is not detected by the trailer during the coupling process, the driver is alerted by a 90 dB siren and warning light; enough to stop any driver in their tracks. Don-Bur are aware of some historical attempts by drivers to sabotage the system so they can continue their route without addressing the problem. With this in mind, the latest version of the EBS-Safe is embedded within the coupling box to prevent access.
LowGlide Safe Ground Coupling System
Rapidly becoming a default specification for many operators, the Don-Bur-invented LowGlide coupling is an award-winning, simple, and cost-effective mechanism to allow the driver to couple up at ground level without having to access the catwalk.
Mega High Lift Suspension
As the lower deck is only 870mm from ground level and bay heights are typically 1200mm high, these trailers come fitted with suspension that will raise the rear of the trailer (250mm) to a height that is more compatible with standard dock levellers.
Heavy Duty Flooring
Powered pallet trucks can cause significant damage to flooring over time if that floor is not designed for purpose. These trailers are fitted with a heavy duty 29mm thick, phenolic coated composite floor, supported by a close bearer pitch of 305mm; reducing to just 203mm at the rear.
Introduced by Don-Bur back in 2008, ‘Blade’ panels are just 7.5mm thick and generate a surprising increase in internal cubic capacity. Particularly when applied to Lifting Decks, this allows Don-Bur to widen the Lifting Deck upper platform to 2.44m between the sides; enough to fit two UK pallets side-by-side with the longest lengths across the width of the trailer.
Wabco TailGUARD Docking System
The TailGUARD system is activated when reverse gear is engaged and is designed to prevent excessive impacts with the bay. If the system detects an obstacle at the rear, particularly in the blind spot, it acoustically and optically indicates the distance to the driver. When the trailer reaches a defined minimum distance to the object, the vehicle is stopped by an automatic actuation of the braking system.
New Lightweight Panel Launch: BladeAl
Don-Bur’s “Blade” panel is now an established, well-proven panel type that currently represents 80-90% of all of their box van manufacturing. The historical 7.5mm panel has an HDPE core faced with 0.5mm thick steel and finished with self-healing galvanisation and a polyester external coating making it an extremely durable and versatile body construction material.
Don-Bur have now gone a stage further with BladeAl; an aluminium cladded version which offers similar core strength but weighs far less than its steel faced equivalent.
Standard GRP panels weigh 13.9 kgs per m2. Lighter than the recently publicised Tata ‘Coretinium’ panel design, the new BladeAl panels weigh just 7.51 kgs/m2 and, without removing any feature components or compromising on strength, would reduce double deck trailer weight by an impressive 654 kgs.
By exchanging the upper 2nd deck and lower main flooring for BladeAl, Don-Bur could reduce that further by another 688.5 kgs. When double deck unladen weight is critical to an operator, more large savings can be made in the body construction and rear closure providing the opportunity to minimise trailer weight to just 8,457 kgs; representing a total potential weight reduction of 2,543 kgs.
Although not fitted to the trailer exhibit, the new panels will be demonstrated at the show.
Operators regularly battle with maintenance, repair and operational challenges. This technologically advanced Lifting Deck trailer demonstrates how those challenges drive innovation to reduce operating costs, increase capability and realise the best possible return on investment.
The trailer can be viewed on the Don-Bur stand 5A50 in Hall 5.
Written by: Richard Owens
Published by: Don-Bur