In light of the recent EU proposals to cut CO2 emissions by 15%, increasing numbers of small and medium-sized haulage companies are looking at ways to reduce weight and save on fuel.

The targets, ordered by the European Commission on 17 May 2018, include a mandatory 15% reduction in CO2 emission from trucks by 2025, and at least a 30% decrease by 2030. 

Research shows that reducing the weight of heavy-duty vehicles by 10% can lead to a 5.5% improvement in fuel economy and vastly lower carbon-dioxide emissions.

Weight reduction methods include substituting standard trailer panels with lightweight materials including honeycomb and/or Styrofoam cored alternatives.

Thermhex is a polypropylene honeycomb core material and is a lightweight alternative to plywood. Styrofoam has been used for many years in the construction industry and as an insulating core in temperature-controlled vehicles. Recent EU legislation changes have resulted in changes to blowing agents, meaning Styrofoam will be phased out and replaced by Xenergy.

Data shows that a typical 100-truck fleet would save around £76,000 a year in diesel costs by reducing 2,500 lbs of weight per truck.

Heavy plywood core panels are used as the sides and floors of many dry freight vehicles —used to deliver solid dry goods such as grains, steel products and other raw materials. However, firms are now looking to lightweight alternatives such as Thermhex, which features a polypropylene honeycomb core.

A spokesman for panel and insulated building products supplier Panel Systems said: “There is an increasing need to reduce the weight of trailers and in turn improve efficiency.

Thermhex and Styrofoam are being used more regularly to manufacture vehicles instead.”

“When you are talking about the big areas of a truck side and roof, this would be extremely advantageous for saving weight. It goes without saying that there would be significant fuel savings.”

Refrigerated transport, which are used to deliver chilled items, tend to be built with extruded polystyrene in the core to keep it cool and with aluminium and GRP for the faces of the truck. 

“They’re already light weight panels but there may be components within the vehicle body construction that is made of plywood that could be replaced with Thermhex,” Danny said. 

The caravan industry is also seeing a move to Thermhex, replacing plywood wall linings in several leisure vehicles.