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As demand for goods increases, so do the need for transports. One energy-efficient answer to tomorrow’s goods transports is fewer trucks and heavier loads – a solution that also improves road safety.

The solution is called Duo2 which is a research collaboration between several transport industry companies and government agencies in Sweden. The purpose of the project, a joint initiative taken by Volvo AB, the Swedish Transport Administration and DB Schenker along with several other companies, is to investigate the potential for transporting mixed cargo loads on the existing road network more efficiently. This involves testing longer, and heavier vehicle combinations than the ones currently permitted in Europe. At present the limits in Sweden are 25.25 metres and 60 tonnes laden weight, while the larger part of Europe has 18,75 metres and 40 tonnes as the limits. 

Longer trucks and heavier loads
The Duo2 project is putting two vehicle combinations to the test. The first, the Duo-Trailer, is a truck with two semitrailers. The two trailers are connected with a dolly with two axles, connectors and a fifth wheel. When fully assembled the vehicle measures 32 metres in length with a gross weight up to 80 tonnes with a full load. The second Duo2 vehicle, the Duo-CAT, is scheduled to be taken onto the roads during the spring of 2015. The combination consists of a truck with two centre axle trailers. This is what is known as a swap-body combination; both the truck and the trailers have removable containers with fold-up legs that can be used to stand the container on the ground. 

Bigger trucks – smaller emissions
Much time and effort has been invested in following up the correlations between weights and fuel consumption. This is one of the criteria imposed by the logistics company participating in the projects. The results of the values obtained from the Duo-Trailer on the test route to date are unequivocal – fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are both 27 percent lower than those from standard European vehicles. From these tests it would appear that Duo2 vehicles not only make goods transport more efficient and contribute to an improvement in road safety, but they also reduce energy use and the logistics fleet’s carbon footprint. 

Cutting-edge expertise
ÅF’s extensive expertise from the automotive industry proves invaluable in the Duo2 research project. ÅF has been a partner in the Duo2 project since the beginning of 2013. The services they have supplied include design engineering, CAD-packing trucks and trailers, and leading the work of constructing the trailers. ÅF’s design and analysis engineers have also assisted with back-office functions relating to the trailers to be used in the Duo- CAT project.