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Kenneth Huck, Director of Product Development at TrinityRail

JEC Composites Magazine approached Kenneth Huck, Director of Product Development at Trinity Industries, Inc., to inquire about the group’s strategy and vision following its award for the TrinityRail TrinCool™72′ Refrigerated Boxcar Floor during the last edition of CAMX.

Kenneth Huck, Director of Product Development at TrinityRail
READING TIME

2 minutes, 50 secondes

JEC Composites Magazine: Could you tell us about TrinityRail and the challenges of your core business?
Kenneth Huck:
“The constant challenge in rail transportation is efficiency. Railcars are limited to a maximum loaded weight of 286,000 lbs. because of rail and bridge limitations. The lighter the railcar, the more commodity it can transport. Another limitation: lighter density commodities may to run out of railcar volume before reaching 286,000 lbs. of weight. Combine this with the cost expectation of our customers, one can begin to understand our challenges.

We need to provide the lightest railcar with the most volume and yet be designed to withstand 50 years of repeated forklift loads and the harsh vibration and impact the rail shipping environment subjects the railcars to. In addition, the refrigerated railcar needs to be thermally efficient to minimize greenhouse gases from the refrigeration unit and all materials need to be fully recyclable.”

TrinityRail 72’ Refrigerated Boxcar with the composite floor. The interior length is 72’ – 3” and the length of the railcar is 85’ coupler-to-coupler
TrinityRail 72’ Refrigerated Boxcar with the composite floor. The interior length is 72’ – 3” and the length of the railcar is 85’ coupler-to-coupler

JEC Composites Magazine: Over the course of the epidemic, we’ve noticed that a great number of innovations have arisen and matured. Has the situation stimulated your need/ability to innovate?
Kenneth Huck: “TrinityRail has a great track record of constant innovation to provide unique solutions for our customers. Despite some limitations during the pandemic, we have continued to innovate and develop our products. For example, TrinityRail applied for 30 patents in 2020 and continues at a great pace in 2021.”

JEC Composites Magazine: You just received an award for the TrinityRail TrinCool™72′ Refrigerated Boxcar Floor during the last edition of CAMX. Could you present the noteworthy points of your solution?
Kenneth Huck: “Our initial goals were to reduce weight, decrease the railcar’s total cost of ownership, and improve thermal efficiency. After observing how the refrigerated railcars are used by our customers and through interviews with their personnel, Carter Andrews and the rest of our team were able to provide additional features and solutions new to the industry that help them become more efficient at what they do. Besides meeting our initial goals, we now have a whole page of advantages for the shipper, car owner, and the railroads.

Not only has our design saved material and railcar build labor costs, we were able to reduce the weight by 4500 lbs., increase interior volume by 150 cu. ft., and improve thermal efficiency. Our floor design reduces cleaning time between railcar loads, but more importantly, the railcar can quickly and easily be converted between fresh and frozen product transport. This reduces logistical burdens for shippers:  they now only need one railcar to transport either product type, while the standard practice before required one style of railcar for fresh produce and another style for frozen product.”

A photo of the diamond top plates leaning against the side walls. This permits cleaning of the underlying corrugated secondary floor.
A photo of the diamond top plates leaning against the side walls. This permits cleaning of the underlying corrugated secondary floor.

JEC Composites Magazine: You offer a solution that takes on the constraints of thermal insulation in a mobile container. What are the main challenges that this entails?
Kenneth Huck: “The railcar is subjected to not only longitudinal, transverse, and vertical accelerations, but also torsion and exterior-to-interior temperature differentials. The previous design of the primary floor in the refrigerated boxcar had up to twelve floor joints. Our composite floor design has only one joint to provide long-term thermal efficiency by reducing the potential for thermal leakage at these joints. Combined with the reduced contact between the railcar steel underframe and the floor, this provides for an improved, thermally efficient railcar.

Keep in mind that these railcars can be subjected to longitudinal impacts of up to 1.2 million lbs. of force, vertical and lateral accelerations of 2 times the force of gravity, and have thermal differentials of +130 °F exterior with -10 °F interior temperatures. The floors support over 93 tons of commodity and endure 25,000 lb. axle loads for 50 years.”

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More information www.trinityrail.com