Curtain On Wheels


In recent times, Pakistan has been greatly suffering from the economic crisis. Multitudes of reasons being listed, one of the major is nation’s in capability to produce and export. When we talk of production shortfalls, there are numerous factors, that we will not bring into debate for now.

Besides, we will talk about the accessibility and exposure to outside world, in the light of exporting goods. As a consumer when we look at the “Made in” tag on any product, we are delighted and satisfied by the image and good will of that region. It is theregion`s ability to produce and transport goods with quality assurance at its desired destination. Hence, for reinforcing one’s image as an exporter, production and logistics, both are equally important. Movement of freight does include Air/Sea freight but the “Development of road networks and Road freight” is the talk of the town nowadays.
Logistics Industry in Pakistan has been ignored and neglected for the past few decades. Most of the trucks running on roads remain non-compliant to general safety standards. Accidentstatistics showed immense contribution of overloading, non-compliant trucks, trailers, components used on trucks/trailers etc. Improper sealing / locking mechanisms has been one of the pain pointsin Heavy commercial vehicles operations. This kept us from availing the abundance of opportunities that the land economy affords – shipping goods by road.
AUTOCOM’s mission has been advocating road freight compliance. Axle load regime which became law in the year 2000, has again been implemented w.e.f. Nov 15, 2023. It has beena result of tireless and persistent efforts ofthe NHA, NH&MP and the Fleet Operators Association of Pakistan.
Enhancing the framework of regional connectivity provides substantial benefits to Pakistani road logistics operators. A positive impact on trade with Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asian Republic improves Pakistan’s economy and boosts exports.One barrier to overcome is the need to have more vehicles with international standards and compliance.
In order to properly avail the benefits from transit trade the facilities under TIR convention must be understood by the stakeholders. So let us have a look at what “TIR” is and the set of trade principles that it establishes.
TIR stands for “Transports Internationaux Routiers” or “International Road Transports”.
Hence the Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) is a multilateral treaty that was concluded at Geneva on 14 November 1975 to simplify and harmonize the administrative formalities of international road transport.
The TIR Convention establishes an international customs transit system with maximum facility to move goods:

  • in sealed vehicles or containers;
  • from a customs office of departure in one country to a customs office of destination in another country;
  • without requiring extensive and time-consuming border checks at intermediate borders;
  • while, at the same time, providing customs authorities with the required security and guarantees.
    The TIR system not only covers customs transit by road but a combination is possible with other modes of transport (e.g., rail, inland waterway, and even maritime transport), as long as at least one part of the total transport is made by road.We as AUTOCOM have recently launched a “Curtain Trailer” prototype , and are heading up towards producing another batch of trailers that have compliance to ECE/TRANS/WP.30/2006/16, ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPE (UNECE).
    The compliance to TIR is challenging and it requires research and study of the document in detail. In order for road vehicles to gain approval, there are some serious sealing requirements.
    For example:
    An extract from the handbook states:
    “Concerning the requirement of security, the TIR Convention stipulates that goods shall be carried in containers or road vehicles the load compartments of which are so constructed that there shall be no access to the interior when secured by Customs seal and that any tampering will be clearly visible”.
    In order to explain the product, we have taken an extract from TIR document as shown in the picture.
    The prototype was launched in Nov 2023 by building a sheeted trailer.
    This product is going to be unique in terms of aesthetics, loading unloading time, loading capacity and overall trailer cost.
    If we talk about the side retractable type curtain sider, the loading unloading time comes down to almost half. Because in conventional trailers the container is only opened up from the back side however in the case on curtains, it could be loaded unloaded from sides.
    Once the curtains are pulled back, the trailer can be accessed from both sides as well as the rear door by multiple forklifts simultaneously.

The PVC fabric replaces the entire container and make the product more durable for movement in humid and extreme weathers. Also the payload capacity of vehicle is enhanced by 4-5 tons. These trailers are low height and make it feasible to travel in the region where overall height is strictly regulated at 4000mm.
The PVC fabric used on the trailers is a functionally tested tensile membrane with 10-15 years of warranty. This is a special fabric tested to fatigue and other crack and wear resistance tests.
Also for the sealing there must be one continuous rope passed through the eyelets locking the cargo at a central point.
To ensure quality and acceptance, the fabric used must be properly sealed and must past a pressure shower test. The profiles, sections of rails onto which the curtain is secured must be compliant to the UN TIR Standard.
The more frequently used products worldwide are the curtain trucks in addition to the trailers.
Once building a body on to the truck, it doesn’t require much investment of both time and money.

The product’s benefits outweigh any risks and this is the reason that the landscape in the regional countries has shifted from heavy steel trailers to light weight curtain type trailers.
As Pakistani operators realize the benefits, the advent of “Curtain on Wheels” will soon start appearing in our road freight Industry.

By Sumaiyah Murtaza, this article has been published in Automark Magazine’s February-2024 printed/digital edition.