More than just Aero
Aero Truck is known for its leading work in truck aerodynamics – creating custom kits that return great savings from the vehicles to which they’re fitted – but the company offers so much more.
Aero Truck began operating over 30 years ago when Cameron Dudley-Owen founded the company “to demonstrate, to the South African transport industry, the benefits of fitting aerodynamics, and to manufacture units which were as good as those being offered anywhere in the world”.
While Aero Truck’s bespoke, locally designed and produced aerodynamic aids are the company’s claim to fame, it offers transport operators so much more …
Computer designed using the latest CAD software and adapted to fit specific trucks, Aero Truck’s bespoke aerokits return fuel savings of between seven and ten percent.
While kits are available for all makes and models on the local market, over the last year the company has developed its Dolphin range of kits, which uses aircraft aerodynamic principles in its design.
“We have developed this design principle to fit most trucks on the South African market. It has been expanded to include medium and smaller-sized trucks. We have also produced a design specifically for fridge units,” explains Dudley-Owen.
From a safety perspective, vehicles fitted with aerodynamics experience significantly lower wind buffeting/turbulence. “This means that the vehicle’s handling characteristics are improved, which, in turn, has the effect of reducing driver fatigue – arguably the most common cause of serious accidents,” adds Dudley-Owen.
Enhanced fuel economy and safety are not the only benefit from fitting an aerokit, however.
“Many fleets are embracing the idea of ‘going green’ and addressing the issue of reducing their carbon footprint. Our products provide an ideal way for our customers to achieve this,” says Dudley-Owen.
“Customers also mention that the enhanced appearance of a fleet, which has been kitted out with aerodynamics, works well in improving a company’s profile and brand image. A further advertising benefit is that the large frontal surface area of the roof of the aerokit is often used as advertising space by the company concerned.
Aero Truck’s range of bull bars, side-under-run protection bars, and headlamp and windscreen protectors are all designed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, while placing the smallest possible weight penalty on a vehicle.
Offered for the entire range of trucks sold in South Africa, Aero Truck’s bull bars are produced to be light yet strong and effective. They are designed to use curved contours, rather than sharp angles or edges.
“The unique construction of our bars contributes to ensuring a safe environment, while still providing maximum protection for the vehicle against accident damage. User and general safety of the public is of great important to us,” notes Dudley-Owen.
During 2015, a range of lightweight cosmetic bull bars was developed to meet demand from a specific segment of the market. These include the popular “Elk” bar – a high profile bar featuring mesh inserts. To go with this, lightweight spotlight bars and roof top bars have also been developed.
The bull-bar concept is not unique to the truck tractor, though. An exciting new development is the side-under-run protection bars for trailers. These units almost completely eliminate the risk of vehicles and motorcycles getting caught underneath long trailers when the vehicle is turning. Similarly, they also protect cyclists and pedestrians from injury or death, claims Dudley-Owen.
“Although not yet legally required in South Africa (despite this being the case in a number of developed countries), these protection bars represent a major step forward in contributing to road safety. Both SAB and Coca-Cola have chosen to fit the side-under-run protection bars to their entire fleets and we hope this initiative will be emulated by other transporters,” says Dudley-Owen.
While all these components are made from steel and aluminium, care in design is taken to minimise their weight. “There will always be a degree of weight added to the vehicle, but this compensated for by the safety aspect of all our products,” Dudley-Owen affirms.
Comfort and convenience
Considering many trucks sold locally are quite standard, Aero Truck developed a range of accessories to enhance driver experience and safety. The company’s sun visors act to reduce glare, enhance safety and reduce driver fatigue.
Similarly, its windscreen guards are fitted to reduce damage to the truck’s windscreen, which can be expensive – especially when the vehicle operates in poor road conditions.
Aero Truck’s expertise also extend to full sleeper-cab extensions. These units are prefabricated by the company and then fitted either above or behind the cab. Cab-over sleeper converisons have the benefit of doubling as aerokits.
For vehicles running more local operations, Aero Trucks similarly manufactures crew-cab cabins, which are bolted onto the chassis behind the original cab. These crew-cab conversions are requested when a vehicle has to be adapted for a different use from that for which it was designed, or where there is no availability of a correctly spec’d vehicle.
“The integrity of the cab is not compromised by our work, and the cab extensions are almost indistinguishable from an original. We take issues of safety very seriously and a prime consideration is to ensure that the standard of our workmanship is such that crew safety is never compromised,” assures Dudley Owen.
All Aero Truck products carry a two-year warranty against defective materials and workmanship.