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13 July 2020

How to reduce CO2 via lighter engineering in 7 steps!

Van Huët, a member of the Emons Group, is a Dutch glass transport specialist, moving jumbo sized glass packs safely and damage free. To reduce CO2 and save fuel, there is a desire to transport more glass packs per truck movement. There is, however, a legal limit to the combined weight of truck, trailer and payload of 40t in Europe. So, moving more load means either a lighter truck and/or a lighter trailer. 

The Emons Group challenged Fransiscó with the task to reduce trailer weight, while at the same time improve functionality and increase robustness. In a joint development project, Fransiscó and the Emons Group developed an innovative and lightweight glass fixation system substantially reducing weight while improving overall performance. 

If you want to know more about, or want support in designing (lightweight) sustainable systems, contact gilbert at:

Step 1: Understanding the problem

We kicked of the project by analysing the existing glass trailer, also called in-loader. Information was gathered and thoroughly analysed to understand the problem and to discover missing information. Excursions to glass factories were done to understand how the trailers were picking up loaded glass stillages and how the glass was secured in the trailer.

From all the data available, the project team selected the glass fixation system as the focus of the project, since; 

  • it showed potential for substantial weight savings,
  • the existing electro-hydraulic system could be made more reliable,
  • we could increase the functionality of the fixation by redesigning it

Step 2: Defining design domain and load cases

After studying the several use cases we looked at the volume inside the trailer available to use to develop the new fixation. Rather counter intuitive, a lightweight solution often benefits from occupying more space, since it allows for a more natural load path. 

Loads on the fixation were accurately calculate for several extreme load cases, such as emergency braking and extreme cornering. Since the reaction forces depend on the position of the fixation, calculations were done for several loading conditions.

Step 3: Concept Engineering 

Switching from electro-hydraulic actuation to electro-mechanical actuators was the first weight saving contribution. Although the actuators themselves are slightly heavier, the total system weight is reduced due the eliminating the heavy hydraulic pump and manifold.

Other advantages of the electro-mechanical system are improved control with accurate current limiting and the ability to operate the actuators individually. Historic data also showed that the hydraulic system was previously the main source of system failure. 

Step 4: Design optimisation

The fixation consists out of 4 main components, the pressure plate, base plate, support and actuator. Based upon the available space inside the trailer and the calculated loads, a topology optimisation study was performed. The objective of such a topology optimisation study is to find the most optimal geometry based upon the given design space and the given loads. The objective is to remove as much material as possible while maintaining a specific stiffness and safety factor.  

Step 5: Design for manufacturing

The topology optimisation result needs to be translated into a design that can be manufactured in a cost-effective way. Several combinations between material, manufacturing method and geometry were investigated, such as Additive Manufacturing, Carbon Composites and bonded extrusions.

Based upon several selection criteria a sheet metal solution was chosen as the best solution, offering substantial weight saving at a competitive cost. 

Step 6: Analysis

The sheet metal structure has been analysed for all occurring load cases and loading conditions. Individual parts were checked on material stress, stiffness, buckling and fatigue.

Step 7: Prototyping, testing and certification

One trailer is equipped with the redesigned fixation system and has been tested under extreme conditions. During testing the load inside the trailer was inspected with several cameras for visual feedback on the behavior of the glass and to verify the overall performance of the fixation. 

The new system proved to improve the fixation of the glass in the desired location, resulting in a substantial reduction of glass breakage. The complete optimised fixation system has been awarded a TÜV certified.


Fransiscó and the Emons Group together developed an advanced glass fixation system for glass transportation. The project covered the whole process from concept idea up to prototyping and real-world testing. The project resulted in a redesigned fixation system with a system weight reduction of up to 50%. The system is more reliable, reduces damage to the glass panes, can handle a mix of glass sizes and is cost competitive. Finally, the system is TÜV certified. 

If you are looking for support in lightweight or advanced engineering, please contact me at

For more information about the other sustainable benefits, see Emons Group.

Gilbert Peters

I’m the founder and owner of Fransiscó. I have a passion for lightweight and high performance engineering. In this blogs you will find occasionally a write-up of things that keep me busy. I you want to know more about my background, please have a look here… 

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