The Evolution of Trailer Flooring

OHC has been supplying the transportation industry since 1967, and is the largest North American supplier of Apitong/Keruing. Over the past 50 years OHC has been providing revolutionary products that have changed the way trailer owners look at platform/flatbed trailer flooring. Here’s a timeline showing how trailer flooring has changed throughout the years.

Domestic Hardwoods

During the 1960’s domestic hardwood lumber like Oak, Beech, Hickory and Maple was utilized extensively throughout the trailer flooring industry. In fact, these species are still acceptable for use on US Military trailers. Eventually, concerns arose from using domestic lumber from temperate forests.

Drawbacks to Domestic Hardwoods

  • Domestic lumber has knots, shake, wane other defects.
  • Higher-grade lumber sells for a premium, much of which is used in furniture and high-end products.
  • In order to obtain adequate vehicular grade flooring, domestic lumber must be defected (processed with trimming and ripping to remove unwanted defects within the lumber). This typically results in short length pieces averaging 5’-9’ in length.
  • Domestic hardwoods have limited enduring quality in exterior applications such as trailer flooring. To obtain greater durability, pressure treating lumber is necessary.
  • Domestic lumber is available in random widths 4” and wider. Unfortunately, a 6” board can range from 5-7/8”to 6-7/8” requiring each board to be pre-sized before machining process can be done.

Introduction of International Hardwoods

During the ‘60’s and ‘70’s OHC started importing Keruing (also known as Apitong) and manufacturing flooring in 8’-20’ length and various thickness. Primarily found in Malaysia and Indonesia, this hardwood is a superior choice for this application thanks to its excellent strength/weight ratio as well as its naturally occurring resin which helps the wood self heal when damaged. The longer lengths created a more enduring floor for the industry by eliminating multiple short component pieces. This was vital in the economics of installation and the reduction of interior board ends. Interior board ends are the cause for the majority of maintenance on a trailer floor since most deterioration begins at the board ends. There is also limited area on cross-member for screwing the ends of board on, causing break out and curling at board ends due to minimal holding capacity.

Benefits of Apitong/Keruing Hardwoods

  • Available in random lengths from 8’-20’.
  • Virtually free of defects.
  • Contains Damar resin. This resin assists in the enduring quality of the species.
  • Mechanical properties are such that it carries a load further than most domestic species.
  • High abrasion resistance.
  • Commercially available.

Custom Apitong/Keruing Flooring Kits

In the early 80’s OHC assisted trailer manufacturers in the design of trailer flooring. This gave way to OHC’s Cut-to-Length Custom fit floors. In a custom fit kit, the most economical utilization of raw material is machined to fit perfectly into the floor, maintaining suitable spacing of board ends to distribute and manage the weaker or inferior areas of the floor – interior board ends. This solution still centered on having to screw boards onto the 2-1/4” flange of a cross-member. The degradation and break out of board ends and curling up continued to exist.

Road Load Tested Trailer Flooring

As OHC continued to work with fleet owners to address flooring problems, they recognized almost every problem centered on interior board ends. So, in the late 80’s OHC created a revolutionary solution called Road Load Tested® trailer flooring (RLT®). RLT® Trailer Flooring eliminates board ends and board end screws altogether in a patented process that delivers full  trailer-length planks. Every single lineal foot OHC processes goes through a machine stress rating process to assure it meets and exceeds the Truck Trailer Manufacturer Association’s (TTMA) recommended load ratings. Like all of OHC’s trailer flooring, RLT® Trailer Flooring is made with 100% Aptiong/Keruing hardwood.

These full trailer-length planks eliminate over 50 interior board ends and 100 screw holes that can create damage-prone areas in conventional trailer flooring.

Benefits of Road Load Tested® Trailer Flooring

  • Full trailer-length with no interior board ends.
  • The only proof load tested (machine stress rated) flooring available on market. This tests flooring to assure it meets and exceeds Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association’s recommended load ratings.
  • Reduces the number of screws needed to secure flooring.
  • Increases personnel safety. Personnel walking on trailer must be cautious around interior boards.
  • Reduces cargo  damage caused by curled up board ends.
  • Provides a stronger trailer floor by creating a Continuous Beam Effect.
  • Provides a more durable trailer by eliminating potential for deterioration at board ends.
  • Reduces maintenance costs.
  • Reduces downtime due to floor maintenance.

OHC works with trailer manufacturers to create and design a specified floor kit for their particular needs and to fit each manufacturer’s exact specifications. Our RLT® Flooring is manufactured for Just In Time (JIT) deliveries to meet the changing demands of our customers. This reduces carrying costs for the manufacturer and potential damage due to extra handling.

OHC’s innovative Road Load Tested® Trailer Flooring brings excellence by saving money, saving time, making a stronger and more durable trailer floor system, and reducing safety and maintenance hazards. It’s no wonder the majority of trailers on the road today use RLT® flooring!