Trailer Research and Development at Felling

Research and Development (R&D) is a valuable tool for growing and improving any business. Felling Trailers, Inc. has been doing R&D for many years, and at the end of 2019, Felling implemented an official R&D Department consisting of two team members. This department is the hands-on extension of the Engineering Team paired with their skilled metal craftsmanship. The R&D Department is tasked with Trailer Research and Development projects such as improving the manufacturing process, weld fixture development, product improvement redesign, and proving the manufacturing process to new products.

Trailer Research and Development - Felling Trailers

Research and Development Stages

  • Concept/Ideation: Customer requirements and innovative functionality design ideas are floated and explored freely to find compelling potential solutions that answer an identified market need.
  • Feasibility Study and Design planning: The feasibility phase allows management to evaluate a project’s potential success. During this phase, the project team reviews product design concepts.
  • Design and Development: In this phase, formal engineering specifications are created. The product is then developed against the designs, with regular checks made throughout the process to assess and mitigate the risk of its failure for the end-user and the project itself.
  • Testing: Comprehensive testing of the final product takes place to evaluate the design’s robustness and its ability to meet customer and performance requirements.
  • Product Validation: Validation takes place against the customer needs that have been identified at the proper stage.
  • Manufacturing and Launch: Plans, specs, and other relevant documentation are transferred to manufacture for production. Marketing and launch plans are finalized and activated.

Designing the all-new Air Bi-Fold Ramp System

One of the first trailer research and development projects we were faced with was Fellings’ all-new Air Bi-Fold Ramp system. A key feature of Felling Trailers design and the work of the R&D department is in the operation of the flip ramp. The flip ramp locks out fully when extending, preventing scraping or marring of the ground (which is undesirable, especially if it’s a new surface of any kind). Another key feature is Fellings’ controlled flow air ramp technology, which provides for the ramp’s soft ground contact, keeping new surfaces free from being damaged. This product was a success and unveiled to the market in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the 2020 Conexpo-Con/Ag Show.

Redesigning the Utility Pole Cargo Trailer

After developing the ramps that showcased the department’s value, they were tasked to redesign Fellings’ already popular Utility Pole Cargo Trailer (UPT-C) Series. Felling has supplied both our standard and highly customized Utility Pole and Utility Pole / Cargo Trailers for over 4 decades to the Utility/Telecom Industry.

A Utility Pole Trailer is just what it sounds like, a trailer designed to transport poles of various types of material such as wood laminate, fiberglass, concrete, and wood being the most common. These poles can be 35 feet weighing 888 lbs to a length of 100 feet weighing in at 9,594 lbs. Transporting these poles with added cargo space, safely, and repeatedly is where the R&D department comes in.

Stages of the Utility Pole Cargo Trailer

  • Utility Pole Cargo Trailer - Old tailgate

    Tailgate – Old Design

    Utility Pole Cargo Trailer - Tailgate

    Tailgate – New Design

    Concept: The first step in the process came from Engineering, Sales, and Felling’s Utility Telecom Product Manager. The UPT-Cs’ functionality and performance requirements were defined. Some of the goals were to streamline production, safer lighting, improve toolbox, increase main frame rails to 10″ C-channel, bed construction, and a more user-friendly tailgate latch.

  • Feasibility Study and Design Planning: From concept, it is turned over to the Engineering Team to plan the project. During this time, the engineers work closely with the R&D Team to ensure the build process is smooth and the concept is feasible on the shop floor.
Utility Pole Cargo trailer - old toolbox

Old Toolbox Design

Utility Pole Cargo Trailer - toolbox

New Toolbox design

  • Design and Development: Development/building was the next step by Chris Hartung, the department’s hands-on division. Chris is given the drawings, parts, and the initial building process. During the building process, Chris documented the entire build and the sequence the parts were used. The build’s documentation is then given to the rest of the R&D team and engineering to look for improvements in the process.
  • Testing: Once the welding portion of the build was completed, test plumbing of the energy chain and wiring is completed. This is done to prepare for testing and evaluation of the new UPT-C. Approximately 10-15 hours of testing were done before dismantling the wiring and sending the trailer off to paint.
  • Product Validation and Launch: After paint and proper decals are applied to the new UPT-C, the sales team conducts their inspection. During this time, the R&D show all the changes and improvements, provide testing results, and answer any questions. The Sales and Marketing Teams come together and unveil it to the market in 2021.

The newly redesigned Utility Pole Cargo Trailer is available with a range of 12K capacity 20′- 30′ length with a 10′ bed up to a 20K capacity 29′-46′ length with a 14″ cargo bed.

Utility Pole Cargo Trailer Energy Chain

Utility Pole Cargo Trailer – New Energy Chain Design

Looking Ahead to More Trailer Research and Development

The Felling Trailers R & D Department has enjoyed working on the all-new Air Bi-Fold Ramp system and redesigning the Utility Pole Cargo Trailer. We will continue to design and manufacture top-quality trailers to fit our customers’ unique needs. To learn more about our trailers and features, call Felling Trailers at 1.800.245.2809 or fill out this simple form to take the next step.

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