Frequently Asked Questions

1What materials are available for ReturnHauler™ tanks?
Tanker TypeMaterials Available
FuelSteelStainless SteelAluminium 
ChemicalSteelStainless SteelAluminiumFibre-Reinforced Plastic
Food-GradeStainless SteelFibre-Reinforced Plastic
Sulphuric AcidStainless Steel 
2To operate a ReturnHauler do I need a hydraulic power pack fitted to my truck ?

Zero hydraulics required on the truck.

The ReturnHauler comes with its own stand-alone hydraulic power pack.

Any standard truck tractor will be compatible with a ReturnHauler.

3Do I need a special truck tractor to pull a ReturnHauler ?

A stock standard truck tractor will work just fine.

The hydraulic system to raise and lower the tank is installed on the trailer.

4What payload can ReturnHauler™ carry?

ReturnHaulers™ will transport the same mass in bulk liquid form (e.g. pulped orange juice) as they do in the return haul (e.g. sawn dried timber.)

This would typically be a 48 000 lb load in the US on a tandem semi; and would be a 31 metric ton load in Africa on a tridem semi.

ReturnHauler has made use of high-strength low-mass materials to reduce the mass of many of its components, to minimize the payload penalty its vehicles have when compared to standard (one-way) road tankers.

Some of these materials / components on a Food-Grade ReturnHauler™ include :

 Weight-Effeicient OptionHeavier Option
Tanks14 mm Fibre Reinforced Plastic3mm 316 L Stainless Steel with 3.6 mm ends
DeckGrade 6063 extruded aluminium deck planksDomex Steel deck
ChassisAluminium with 16 mm (0.65 in.) flangesSteel with 12 mm (1/2 in.) or 16 mm (2/3 in.) flanges
SuspensionBPW / Hendrickson AirBPW Mechanical
Rubbing Plate12.7 mm (1/2 In.) aluminium8 mm (1/3 in.) steel
Landing LegsJost aluminiumJost steel
TyresSuper Singles :  385/65R22.5 or 455/55R22.5Duals : 315/60R22.5

The actual tare mass of the ReturnHauler™ trailer will also be determined by the height of the return load to be transported.

A high-density return load (like a refined metal like copper or a steel product) may not require as much space under the tank.

In these instances lower headboards / tailboards can be fitted with shorter hydraulic cylinders. Shorter tank-support posts will also be fitted - all saving mass.

Typical payloads can be found on the tables on the ‘Products’ tab on this site.

5What are the advantages of putting load under the tanks as is done on ReturnHauler™ versus on top of the tanks?

It is safer for forklift operators to load a deck at 1 500 mm than at 2 200 mm (where the forklift becomes very unstable on rough surfaces.)

It is easier and safer to close up a load at 1 500mm than at 2 200 mm.

Driving with freight loaded on a 1 500 mm deck gives a considerably more stable vehicle than at 2 200 mm.

ReturnHauler™ decks at 1 500 mm are compatible with most loading docks that are all built at 1 500 mm.

6Is the ReturnHauler™ design not ‘top-heavy’ with the tanks raised ?

No - you need to remember the tanks will only be raised when they are empty.

And not when they are full.

With the tanks empty and raised, only 7% of the gross combination mass (in the case of the aluminium interlink / B-train) take up the space between 2.7 metres and 4.3 metres.

The centre of gravity of ReturnHauler™ loaded in this way is at 2.2 metres.

This gives ReturnHauler™ a lower centre of gravity than many other general freight loads that have heavier product uniformly stacked up to the 4.3 m mark and could have a centre of gravity as high as 2.8 metres.

So ReturnHauler™ is relatively stable.

7What deck heights are possible on ReturnHauler™?
Vehicle ConfigurationWheel Size (inch)Deck Height (mm)Deck height (inches)
Interlink / B-Train22.51 50059
Interlink / B-Train22.5 + 19.51 500 + 1 35059 + 53

Different deck heights are possible – depending on whether 19.5 or 22.5 inch wheels are fitted.

The deck height is 1 500 mm with the 22.5 inch wheels and 1 350mm with 19.5 inch wheels.

But we do not recommend 19.5 inch wheels.

In practice we have found 19.5 inch tyres wear quicker than 22.5 inch tyres.

We see the shoulders of the 19.5 inch tyres seem to go quicker.

8Can ReturnHauler™ carry both bulk liquid and dry freight loads at the same time?

Yes, but only if the vehicle is fitted with two or more tanks.

Provided the legal gross combination mass is not exceeded, it is possible to transport bulk liquid in one lowered tank, and then dry freight under another empty and raised empty tank, on the same transport leg.

Again provided the total mass does not exceed the permissible payload.

But it would not be wise to transport incompatible loads on the same vehicle e.g. granular fertilizer and diesel.

This said most operators will want to operate the vehicle on single commodities per leg. But exceptions will always arise in practice where ‘part –loads’ or ‘consolidated loads’ will need to be run – and can be run.

9How available are general freight ‘Return Loads’ ?

Bulk liquid road tanker traffic makes up only between 7 % and 10 % of all truck traffic worldwide.

These statistics are determined by regional consumption patterns in various countries. The statistics are also determined by the resources and industries in each region.

Around half of the bulk liquid road tanker traffic worldwide – that would be between 3.5 % and 5 % of all truck traffic - is concerned with haulage of petroleum products*, with the other half transporting chemicals, food-grade products and cryogenic products.

This leaves 90% of all trucks out there transporting things other than bulk liquid loads.

This suggests the bigger challenge is to secure bulk liquid contracts, with the lesser challenge being to match dry freight ‘return loads’ which are in relative abundance.

This leaves 90% of all trucks out there transporting things other than bulk liquid loads.

*a 2013 study commissioned by National Tank Truck Carriers in the USA indicated there were 163 670 trucks being utilized in bulk road tanker operations in that year, and this constituted 10,9 % of all trucks in the US.

10Can I vary the height of the empty tank to suit my ‘Return Load’ ?

Yes you can lower the height of the tank for the ‘return load’ to lower the frontal drag of the tanker in order to improve diesel consumption.

A popular tank height for copper cathodes as an example would be 500 mm (20 inches) from the deck; whereas a popular tank height for palletized drummed product would be 1 050 mm (41 inches.)

Other benefits of setting the tanks lower are : better centre of gravity / better handling; better load security in transit.

The lower tank height is achieved by fitting shorter tank-support posts.

Tank support-posts can be supplied at any height, and can be swapped with longer tank-support posts that are perhaps suitable for other ‘return loads’ in a number of minutes.

11How long does it take to raise a ReturnHauler tank ?

Raising the tank is relatively quick – taking one to two minutes depending on the length of the hydraulic cylinders fitted, and depending on what height of lift you require.

A 800 mm (31 inch) lift will take about a minute to do; and a 1 500 mm (59 inch) lift will take about two minutes to do.

Other benefits of setting the tanks lower are : better centre of gravity / better handling; better load security in transit.

You can add to this a few minutes to walk around the trailer to unlock the 4 X twist locks before raising the tank.

All-in you are looking at under five minutes to raise a tank.

12How long does it take to lower a ReturnHauler tank ?

ReturnHauler tankers are fitted with double-acting hydraulic cylinders, powered by the same hydraulic pump used to raise the tank, as to lower the tank

Tanks are powered upwards; and are similarly powered downwards.

It takes the same time to raise a tank as it takes to lower a tank : between one and two minutes depending on the length of the hydraulic cylinders fitted.

A 800 mm (31 inch) tank lower will take about a minute to do; and a 1 500 mm tank lower will take about two minutes to do.

You can add to this a few minutes to walk around the trailer to lock the 4 X twist locks once the tank is lowered.

All-in you are looking at under five minutes to lower a tank.

13Is ReturnHauler a solution for product contamination ?

ReturnHauler tanks can be dedicated to one product.

The tank can be sealed (with numbered seals / numbered bolt locks) after delivery of dedicated product.

This gives the customer the assurance that the tank is not used for other bulk products.

Some products like vegetable oil are difficult to completely remove during tank cleaning.

Vegetable oils can contaminate other food-grade loads (e.g. wine) done on the return leg, resulting in loads being written off.

14Can ReturnHauler cut tank cleaning costs ?

If tanks are being cleaned after each bulk liquid load, then using a ReturnHauler will halve tank cleaning costs when operated with dry freight return loads.

15Can ReturnHaulers be operated as standard tankers ?

Yes, certainly if two-way bulk liquid traffic is available.

And if there are no compatibility or tank cleaning issues.

If the availability of two-way bulk loads is intermittent or irregular or seasonal, dry freight return loads can be transported on ReturnHaulers to maintain revenues.

This flexibility is not available on standard (conventional) tankers.

16Do ReturnHaulers help address the driver shortage ?


Transporters can achieve higher revenues using ReturnHaulers, using the same number of drivers as they typically use on standard tankers.

Put another way : drivers get to run back-to-back loads, earning better revenues per tanker, and spend less time running empty tankers / transporting air.

17Can ReturnHaulers be loaded and offloaded at standard 1 500 mm (59 inch) Loading Docks ?


ReturnHaulers can be loaded and offloaded at Standard 1 500 mm (59 Inch) high loading docks.

ReturnHauler decks are at the same height as those of standard flatbeds.