Utility Trailer Aerodynamics

Improving heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency is important for our environment, and for reducing fleet operating costs. However, devices like tails are expensive, prone to damage, and get in the way when loading and unloading trailers. Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co. set out to solve these problems with their UAT rear trailer system and the Utility Side Skirt. Since Utility is the largest manufacturer of refrigerated trailers, and a major manufacturer in several other categories, trailers with these features are available in most dry van segments.

Their new Utility Aerodynamic Tail (UAT) was named one of Heavy-Duty Trucking Magazine’s 20 best products of 2019. Instead of using a large, folding tail, the UAT is a set of small fairings made from 25 lbs. of UV-protected, fiberglass-reinforced thermoplastic. Two full height side fairings connected to the rear swing doors, while one full width roof fairing runs across the top edge of the door opening. The side door fairings extend when the doors are closed, and fold back automatically during opening. The roof fairing doesn’t interfere with lock rods, so there’s nothing to fold or move when opening and closing the trailer doors.

The fairings direct air away from the trailer, reducing the size of the low-pressure zone behind the doors. This reduces drag, improving fuel economy and trailer stability. Unlike tails, these fairings extend just a few inches behind the back of the trailer. This keeps them from catching on loading bays. The UAT a practical solution for short haul trucking, where the complexity and cost of a full tail outweighs possible fuel savings. It’s also a great option for long haul trucking, offering similar aerodynamic improvements to full tails in a small, lightweight package.

Most side skirts are great at reducing under-trailer drag, improving fuel efficiency. However, they’re easy to damage. The Utility side skirt was developed to meet the EPA Greenhouse Gas-Phase 2 (GHG2) BIN 3, SmartWay and California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirements. They’re also designed to better withstand the rigors of commercial use, reducing the chance of damage and need for repairs. Angled bottom edges increase rigidity while keeping the skirt flexible. This lets the skirts glide over curbs and speed bumps. The support structure also flexes, and it can be bent back into shape, reducing the need for replacement. The plastic skirts can be printed with graphics, giving you more space to advertise your brand.

When using the Utility Side Skirt and the Utility Aerodynamic Tail, it can save your fleet up to 8% in fuel savings.