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Freightliner Solves Safety Problem with
Unique Fifth Wheel Device from Fontaine

Freightliner Ltd, the UK’s most reliable rail freight operator and largest intermodal logistics provider, is using a unique fifth wheel mechanism to avoid safety issues when coupling tractor and trailer units.

Freightliner Ltd operates over 100 daily services, transporting 20 per cent of all maritime containers that enter the UK from the key deep sea ports of Felixstowe, Southampton, Tilbury, Thamesport and Seaforth to 14 destinations, nine of which are rail terminals self-owned and operated.

Freightliner Ltd’s in house road operations, Road Services (FRS), provides local road delivery from its terminals nationwide to final destinations thereby ensuring Freightliner can offer a complete port/door/port service.

Freightliner moves circa 80% of UK rail borne maritime containers, whilst Freightliner Road Services has a 25 per cent share of the container road haulage market.

According to Freightliner, the process of moving rail borne containers to road vehicles can raise challenges, especially with drop and swap operations.

"Safety is key to our operations” explains Freightliner Road Services General Manager Richard Branston. “We experienced several dropped trailer incidents with our previous fifth wheels which were attributed to the trailer king pin being too high, yet still triggering the mechanism."

Freightliner discussed their concerns with Fontaine, the European and international fifth wheel and landing leg manufacturer, whose engineers provided a simple yet effective solution.

"The unique feature of the Fontaine fifth wheel is the offset jaw. The hook of the jaw is the usual height, but the part of the jaw that the king pin hits to trigger the mechanism is a few centimetres lower, therefore, if the king pin is too high it will not trigger the mechanism to lock. This has prevented further incidents reoccurring" explains Richard Branston.

As a consequence of the coupling solution, Freightliner Road Services specifies Fontaine fifth wheels on all new equipment - the most recent being 102 DAF 105 XF's.