A swap body is a load-carrying container that can be separated from the truck similarly to an ISO container. The most widely used system in Europe is the BDF system (which originates from the German federal long-distance haulage association – the BDF (Bundesverband des Deutschen Güterfernverkehrs)).
Swap bodies can have various forms of construction. Depending on requirements, customers can choose between platforms, steel box bodies, refrigerated or dry freight box bodies. Bodies are equipped with four container corner castings, in accordance with the BDF standard, and are connected to the chassis via twist locks or container locking mechanisms. They are compatible with road or rail transport. To be used in intermodal transport, the body must be fitted with equipment that allows transloading onto the railway (International Union of Railways regulation UIC 592-4). Grab-handling grooves are located on the underside of the swap body to facilitate this.
A BDF vehicle apparatus is built onto the chassis of the vehicle that will hold the swap body. With its pneumatic suspension, the vehicle can be raised and lowered to specific heights. When it is in the raised position, four supporting legs are folded down at the sides of the swap body. The vehicle is then lowered and can pull out from underneath the parked body.
The process works in reverse when picking up the swap body. The entire procedure takes 5 minutes and does not require a crane or any other auxiliary device.
The economic benefit for carriers is that that just one vehicle can use multiple different swap bodies. While loading is taking place at the ramp, the truck can be transporting other swap bodies. Therefore, the truck can park an empty swap body at the ramp, and straight away pick up a loaded body and begin a new trip. This minimises idle and waiting times for the vehicles.
Another advantage of swap bodies is that they can be used as mobile storage, so you can have production directly “into the swap body”. When the swap body is fully loaded, the truck can pick it up and transport it straight away. This saves loading from the warehouse into the waiting vehicle.
The standard body lengths are 7,450 mm and 7,820 mm. In the capacity area, swap bodies can have an interior height of 3,000 mm or more.