Testing leads to knowing

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Not to get too geeky today (but then, by saying that, you knew I would) I wanted to follow up on an interesting visit this week down in Greenville S.C. to observe some of the testing SmartTruck Systems engages in to determine whether the aerodynamic products they design work in the real world as expected … or not.

[To get a glimpse of some of the “behind-the-scenes” engineering work that goes into SmartTruck’s products, you can check out some photos by clicking here.]

Now, aerodynamic device makers of all sorts put their products through a myriad of tests to get at the critical piece of information everyone wants to know: do such devices deliver fuel efficiency improvements to tractor trailers in the real world? They do, though the percentages among the many types and styles of trailer aerodynamic devices out there.

[To view some of test track work SmartTruck conducts out at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds, for example, click here.]

The interesting part in all of this (for me at least) centers on the types of calculations, sensor devices, and test protocols all these companies use to determine whether their designs are delivering the expected gains in fuel economy.

SmartTruck’s Mike Henderson and John Anastos delve describe much of that way better than I can in the video below:

And just to clarify: when Henderson mentions “Kennedy” in the above video clip, he’s referring to the use of an 18,000 foot runway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida tapped by a very wide variety of companies – even NASCAR racing teams – to conduct aerodynamic vehicle testing.

Just goes to show that improving tractor-trailer aerodynamics isn’t a slap-dash affair by any means; it involves some significant investments in testing that hopefully delivers to fleets concrete evidence that what they’re mounting to their equipment saves them big money as they roll on down the road..

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