History of Road Tankers that are Capable of Doing ‘Return Loads’
Road tankers that could haul bulk liquid one way and then haul dry freight as ‘return loads’ were first conceived of; built; and put into transport operations in the 1950’s – with the first of these known designs coming out in Canada.
The driving force behind these ‘unconventional road tanker designs’ was to get fuel (mainly diesel for logging operations and fuel oil for heating) economically transported up to the northern regions of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, and then to economically do ‘return loads’ to the southern areas of Canada and the northern states in the US.
These ‘return loads’ to the south were mainly sawn lumber, used in housing construction, and other wood and paper products.
From March 1993 two road tanker manufacturers in Canada were offering designs that could do return loads : Hutchinson Industries of North York, Ontario, and Advance Engineered Products of Regina, Saskatchewan.
On the ‘other side of the pond’ from the 1960’s we see that Saalasti Oy of Finland had been manufacturing their Mepa tankers for scores of operators in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland) and also Russia.
Then by 1993 Saalasti Oy’s Mepa designs were being made under licence in Australia and South Africa.
Saalasti Oy was principally a rail equipment and wood industry equipment manufacturer, but also designed and manufactured road tankers that could transport ‘return loads.’
Mepa tankers to transport return loads were the only road products manufactured by Saalasti Oy.
Saalasti Oy stayed out of the standard road tanker market altogether – preferring to supply their niche trailers only.
Saalasti Oy by the 1990’s had produced several hundred Mepa products, many of which were designed to transport resins for the wood industry and then transport finished wood and paper products as the return loads.
Shortcomings of Designs in Operation by 2009
At the time ReturnHauler was conceived in May 2009 there were a number of design difficulties associated with tankers that could do return loads.
The decks of these kinds of road tankers tended to be high at around 2 200 mm.
This compared to standard flatbed trailers with deck heights of 1 500 mm.
This made the vehicles difficult for forklift operators to access in order to load and offload dry freight.
The deck height – being higher than an average height man - made these vehicles difficult to tarp up.
Return loads proved to be more difficult to check and adjust on route.