Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shetland Road Haulage and Freight Forwarding Group Warm To Gray and Adams Reefer Trailers

Reinforced Designs Survive in North Sea Tempests
Shipping News Feature

UK – EUROPE - When your business entails sending refrigerated trailers across the North Sea, year-round and in all weathers, you need to know they’re built to withstand the rigours of the voyage – for Shetland Transport, only a Gray & Adams ‘ferry spec’ trailer will do. The road haulage and freight forwarding operator has just taken delivery of its latest batch of temperature-controlled Gray & Adams trailers, all of which incorporate a series of measures and uprated components designed to increase rigidity and protect them from damage in the roughest seas.

Soon to celebrate its 30th anniversary, Shetland Transport has headquarters in Lerwick and depots in Aberdeen and Coatbridge, near Glasgow and provides freight services throughout the UK and Europe. Outbound trailers typically carry salmon, the Shetland Isles contributes more than half of Scotland’s farmed salmon production, as well as fresh white and processed fish, and mussels, and return with a wide variety of fresh, chilled and frozen products for supermarkets and wholesalers.

Every day up to a dozen of its trailers make the 12-hour, overnight crossing to and from Aberdeen, or between the Orkneys and the mainland, a journey that typically takes up to eight hours. Each trailer is secured as firmly as possible to the vessel prior to embarkation, air is ‘dumped’ from the suspension to prevent bouncing and the trailer’s king pin is shackled to a deck-mounted trestle before additional chain lashings on both sides are pulled tight.

Shetland Transport founder and Managing Director Hamish Balfour explains however, if the trailers are not up to the job they’re still likely to buckle and bend over time saying:

You can get rough seas in the English Channel too but the problem up here is the distances involved, the length of the journeys and the prolonged periods of stresses and strains to which our trailers are subjected. When the sea is up the gravitational forces can be immense, as the ship descends into a trough they’re pushing down on the trailer; then, as it begins to rise back up the wave, everything starts moving in the opposite direction. Plus of course, lateral forces will also be acting on the trailer throughout the voyage.

“Twenty years ago our trailers were disintegrating because they couldn’t take the pressure. But the various strengthening measures that Gray & Adams builds into its ferry specification trailers mean we no longer have to worry. We’ve worked closely with the manufacturer as it has refined the design over the years, so that our latest trailers are the best yet.”

Underlining this point, the Shetland Transport fleet is dominated by temperature-controlled 13.6m trailers manufactured to ferry specification by Gray & Adams at its Fraserburgh headquarters, the latest being fitted with ThermoKing refrigeration units. Mr Balfour continues:

“Some of our G&A trailers are nearly 20 years old and still operational, because there’s a part of the business for which older trailers are perfectly suitable. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with them and Gray & Adams provide a first class aftercare service, supporting us with a rolling programme of refurbishment and accident damage repair, so the trailers always look nice and fresh from a presentational point of view.”

Gray & Adams has been established for fifty five years and traditionally the company’s core product portfolio included a complete range of refrigerated trailers and rigid bodies but twin and lifting deck trailers now also make up a large proportion of production, both in dry freight and refrigerated configurations. Market demand has also prompted Gray & Adams to diversify the product range to include refrigerated storage solutions, insulated side access loading trailers and mobile shop facilities as well as highly specified chick carrying and prisoner escort vehicles.

Photo: Safe and secure, despite being firmly fixed to the deck, Shetland Transport’s trailers must still be able to withstand immense pressures in heavy seas.