January 20 - Mammoet and Scheuerle have started the development of a new heavy transport solution - Trailer Power Assist (TPA) - which they say increases efficiency and safety whilst significantly lowering the carbon footprint.

Mammoet says that using these hydraulically powered trailers reduces the number of trucks required to pull and steer to just one, as well as greatly enhancing trailer combination versatility, manoeuvrability and safety of the entire transport.

Traditionally, explains Mammoet, in the road transport of very large and heavy cargo on multiple trailers, two or four trucks can be required at the front to pull and steer, and two or four trucks at the back to push or brake assist. The trucks and trailers are mechanically connected, increasing pulling and braking power but limiting their manoeuvrability. Instead of trucks, heavy haulage prime movers are also used - but all of them need to drive back empty.

Initiated by Mammoet and developed in cooperation with German trailer manufacturer Scheuerle, the new TPA system is based on the Scheuerle K25 trailer, which is fitted with a power pack unit (PPU) that hydraulically powers four of the six axle lines.

The PPU is mounted at one or either end of the trailer, depending on the configuration, or can be positioned on the prime mover to replace the counterweight for traction. Each PPU is powered by a MTU V12 diesel engine, that generates 1,000 horsepower and a traction power of over 40 tonnes. The TPA system is also specified for all weather extremes.

The draw bar pull of the TPA is the equivalent of two fully loaded prime movers, meaning that one TPA can replace at least two trucks - this has a number of advantages, notes Mammoet.

It reduces the length of the transport and enhances manoeuvrability by requiring only one truck at the front to pull and steer; while one single truck driver operating the system virtually eliminates communication errors, increasing safety on long haul transports.

TPA power can be multiplied by adding more TPA trailers and PPUs, increasing efficiency compared to using multiple trucks. After on-site delivery the TPA can be operated by remote control in 'creep mode' for maximum manoeuvrability and positioning, added Mammoet. One truck can return the empty TPA units in frictionless 'free-wheel' mode.

Mammoet claims that the assisted road speed of the TPA is at least five times higher with only a third of the fuel consumption compared to a transport using only self-propelled modular transporters (SPMT), considerably reducing the carbon footprint.

Above the maximum speed of 25 km/h the PPUs shut off and the truck can pull the trailer combination to highway speeds of up to 80 km/h. This means that larger loads can be transported over longer distances with safer higher average speeds, says the heavy lift and transport engineering specialist.

In future, added Mammoet, exceptionally large transports weighing more than 2,000 tonnes over longer distances using multiple rows of trailers with one truck at the front and one at the back could become a reality.

Scheuerle is currently building two TPA prototypes in a joint venture with Mammoet; in 2016, these two prototypes will be field-tested by Mammoet.

Watch an animation of the TPA system below: