“Side skirts are going to be where the industry WAS. We’re where you’re going to see the industry go.” Those were the confident words of Parr Wiegel, President and CEO of StormBlok Systems, manufacturer of the EkoStinger aerodynamic trailer aftertreatment product.
“It’s a paradigm shift in the way people are going to think about aerodynamics,” he asserted.
Wiegels attitude is the basis of the company motto “Changing Trucking Forever,“ displayed underneath their logo on the ekostinger website.
Motorists have become accustomed to the familiar side “skirts” or fairings that many modern trailers are equipped with, but Wiegel aims to change all of that. Fuel savings are only one of the benefits of the EkoStinger product, he explained.
Somewhat resembling a large arrowhead, a key component of the EkoStinger product attaches to the trailer’s sliding axle carriage and moves when the tandems are adjusted, making it the world’s only active aerodynamic trailer system, according to the company’s website.
Keeping the space between the EkoStinger and the trailer wheels constant is a key to the product’s effectiveness, says Wiegel. “Marketers of trailer skirts like to talk about fuel savings,” he said, “but the farther back the wheels are positioned, the less effective their product is. Our product provides consistent aerodynamic efficiency, regardless of where the trailer tires are moved.”
The second piece to the EkoStinger system is a polypropylene undercarriage cover that shields the underside of the trailer from moisture and presents a smooth surface for air to flow along.
Rather than direct air to the sides of the trailer, the system allows air to “organize“ underneath the trailer before passing to the arrow unit, where it is directed harmlessly to the sides. The airstream passing outside of the trailer helps direct water droplets, dust and other debris close to the ground rather than into the air.
The company claims a fuel savings of 4 to 6 percent, but Wiegel touts the system’s other benefits, too. “Road spray is reduced by 70 to 75 percent,” he said. “The driver can actually see beyond the trailer, because road spray doesn’t come up any higher than the bumper.” The visibility of passing motorists is improved as well, according to Wiegel, so they can make a decision to pass instead of hesitating near the rear of the trailer trying to see ahead and causing an additional hazard.
The company claims that trailers last longer, too, because the crossmembers underneath are sealed from moisture, salt, dirt and debris. Since air is routed around trailer tandems, less foreign material like ice and mud finds the trailer suspension and axles.
There’s another safety benefit to the system, according to Wiegel, and that’s the added stability the system brings. “Drivers tell me that the trailer tracks better,” he said, “and isn’t as susceptible to crosswinds.” He described one customer that routinely pulls double 48-foot trailers on the turnpike, saying that the drivers who pull them claim they are much more stable with the system.
A key design feature of the EkoStinger system is that it’s less susceptible to conditions that can damage other aero products, like steep loading docks or raised railroad crossings. “Our road testing included more than 400 railroad crossings on hills, in curves, and different grades, plus steep docks and other hazards where conventional skirts hit,” he explained.
The EkoStinger product was developed by StormBlok Systems, the parent company that markets hurricane protection devices. “We’re used to 150 mph winds,” Wiegel said, describing the wind tunnel and other aerodynamic testing that led to the EkoStinger design.
Wiegel knows that return on investment is important to truck owners and is working hard to gain their business. The company is offering a two-year warrantee to purchasers of the system, and it covers damage caused by anything, including driver error. “We had a claim from a driver that hit a huge rock,” said Wiegel. “We just replaced the product.”
The company offers quantity discounts to purchasers of multiple systems, but sets the price low enough that individual owner operators can take advantage of the savings. No down payment financing is available, with monthly payments set low enough to be covered by savings in fuel cost, and then some.
“Buyers get the increased stability, reduced road spray and increased trailer life, plus another $100 in their pocket after making the payment,” he explained.
More information is available on the company's website at ekostinger.com or by calling 855-833-7940.
If Wiegel has his way, drivers will soon see the EkoStinger system on more trailers on the road.
The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.