German academics to study effectiveness of current limits on trailer side-wall pressure

According to researchers at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences, existing regulations covering the stability of trailer side walls may be inadequate. Initial analysis shows that the load pressure on the side walls of the trucks and their trailers is often significantly higher than the maximum allowed values - particularly when encountering changes in road surfaces and adverse weather conditions.

German academics to study effectiveness of current limits on trailer side-wall pressure
Photo credit: poliisi.fi

In light of the discovery, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWI) is now reportedly conducting another research project to check the specifications for truck trailers in the name of road safety.

BMWI’s research has found that the current rules may no longer be sufficient as modern trucks have higher traction and braking forces, which places more demands on the trailers.

“We have specific indications that the pressure load on the superstructure is considerably higher than currently permitted in the case of bumps and changing road grip,” says Prof. Dr. Vinod Rajamani from the mechanical engineering department at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences.

Another research project has now been launched to scientifically determine the necessary adjustments that should be incorporated into today’s regulations. The Federal Ministry of Economics is funding the joint project with more than a quarter of a million euros. Prof. Rajamani is supervising the project together with Alexander Lampkowski, a mechanical engineering master’s student and research assistant at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences.

“This can occur in roundabouts, in mountainous regions, but also when changing lanes on the motorway,” explains Prof. Rajamani. This would release forces that damage the truck bodies and lead to a loss of cargo – sometimes without the driver noticing. Unlike the tractor units with their multitude of assistance systems, the trailers lack the appropriate sensors.

“The aim is to make our scientific findings available to those responsible for rules and standards and to work on possible changes to specifications,” says Prof. Rajamani. „The data obtained in the project should also serve as a basis for future assistance systems, contribute to safety in autonomous driving and provide additional principles for securing loads,” says Ralf Damberg, managing director of the project partner LOG4-Consult.

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