Cutting edge company has the aero-dynamic advantage in the market

Hatcher Components now offers a range of ingenious cab conversions, designed and fitted in its Sky C

Hatcher Components now offers a range of ingenious cab conversions, designed and fitted in its Sky Cab workshop. - Credit: Archant

Innovative Framlingham business Hatcher Components is using the latest technology to improve fuel efficiency for heavy goods vehicles.

Fitting cab conversions at the Framlingham factory.

Fitting cab conversions at the Framlingham factory. - Credit: Archant

For businesses that rely on long-distance truck transportation of goods, wind resistance can be a real drag – literally.

Huge and box-like heavy goods vehicles are not at all aerodynamic and have to work extra hard against the air flow opposing them, especially at motorway speeds, burning up extra fuel as they do it.

Liam King, part of the design team at Hatcher Components in Framlingham, says: “At motorway speeds aerodynamic drag accounts for between 40 to 50% of fuel consumption in heavy goods vehicles, as they literally punch a hole through the air. The size and shape of trucks exacerbate this, particularly in the UK where larger trailers are permissible. These flat fronted shapes and sharp edges disrupt airflow around the vehicle, creating areas of turbulence and pressure differentials that oppose the forward motion of the truck.”

However, Hatcher has a solution, and it is one that has made the Suffolk company a pioneer in its field. Its factories in Framlingham and Parham produce air-management kits that fit on top and around the truck cab or trailer, streamlining the shape of the vehicle and reducing the amount of separated, turbulent airflow around it. As a result the vehicles are far more fuel efficient.

Hatcher Components is celebrating its 50th year in business this year.

Hatcher Components is celebrating its 50th year in business this year. - Credit: Archant

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The aerodynamic cab extensions, which are tested for optimum shape using computer software, a scale model wind tunnel, and full scale prototype testing at Millbrook Proving Ground, in Bedfordshire, have been chosen over and above factory-fitted options by fleet managers and owner operators, across Europe.

The company’s workforce has been refining the air deflectors over many years and the latest models are fitted with sensors to automatically adjust to the height of any new trailer coupled to the cab so optimum aerodynamic performance is achieved.

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The team also worked with researchers at Cranfield University and Mercedes-Benz Trucks to develop the ‘Freddie’ - a spoiler design that utilised optimised 3D geometry to deflect cross winds encountered in a typical journey.

Hatcher Components is part of the Framlingham-based Betts Group which also includes Broadwater Mouldings, a fibre reinforced plastics specialist at Ellough, near Beccles.

Hatcher Components is celebrating its 50th year in business this year, manufacturing parts for the commercial vehicle industry in this area since 1968, having started out making illuminated signs for taxis and vans before becoming a market leader in truck aerodynamics.

In recent years Hatcher Components has also channelled its innovative ideas into space-saving and comfortable sleeping quarters for drivers inside their cabs.

Cab conversions can provide sleeping for up to four crew members or even a standing height changing area and, as you would expect, they are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible.

Hatcher is the sole UK distributor and installer of the Pony Fantasy ISM - a module which fits on top of the cab, providing accommodation for comfortable overnight sleeping. The modules can be attached to look as though they were factory fitted in a day’s work at Hatcher’s factory, in Framlingham.

Van drivers can also take a break in comfort with another exciting innovation, the Shuteye® Van Bunk Bed. It gives drivers a space to lie down and take a nap and then, when not in use, folds neatly away.

During its long association with the region, Hatcher Components has forged strong ties with the community. Marketing assistant, Megan Garland, says: “The company has always been keen to give lots of opportunities, such as training schemes, to the local community. There are generations of families that have worked here and we have many members of staff which have been with us for more than 30 years.”

For more information, visit here or call (0)1728 723675.

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