Trailer Noise and Vibration Study

3M released a study on April 12 in response to concerns among veterinarians and horse owners about the stress their animals endure every time they are transported. The study showed that horse trailers made with VHB Tape from 3M are up to 41% quieter at highway speeds, and vibration was reduced up to 30% compared to trailers made with traditional mechanical fasteners. 

3M commissioned Skip Hartman, an independent acoustics and vibration expert from MachineryWatch.com, to do a comparison of noise and vibration--testing a horse trailer made with VHB Tape against a similar style trailer made with conventional rivets. The study was conducted in response to discussion at the International Workshop on Equine Transport that cited the number of behavioral and physiological adverse effects that long distance travel can induce in horses. The workshop concluded that additional stress is placed on a horse during shipping due in part to noise and vibration of a moving vehicle.

According to the company, 3M VHB Tape has been widely recognized in the transportation industry as a key component in producing high-quality, smooth-sided trailers for more than 20 years. It has been used for decades in the production of semi-trailers, ambulances, and recreational vehicles because of its high strength and excellent weather-sealing properties. Because 3M VHB Tape creates a continuous bond between the posts and the panels, moisture and dust are blocked out, unlike with traditional fasteners. VHB tape has been used in the production of horse trailers for several years.

3M VHB Tape is used to hold the skin to the frame. In response to questions from The Horse about the safety and durability of the tape vs. standard fasteners, the company stated that the tape has been subjected to years of testing and has been successfully used for decades in the transportation industry. "With proper application, it is more likely that the metal panels will fail under stress before the tape's bond does," noted the company.

Veterinarians such as Justin Janssen, DVM, a board member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, say any reduction in noise and vibrations in a horse trailer is a benefit to the horse and its owner. 

"Certainly we see that noise has a big impact on horses," said Janssen. "These animals are much more sensitive to noise than what we as humans appreciate. Even a 5-10% decrease in noise would be very significant to a horse. For this study to show more than a 40% reduction in noise with 3M's product, that's phenomenal."

Nancy Loving, DVM, of Boulder, Colo., echoed Janssen: "Any time you have excessive road noise or vibration in a horse trailer, I think the horse experiences some stress. That can lead to fatigue, both muscular and mental. Reduction of noise or vibrations should benefit horses in transit. Anything we can do to make our animals more comfortable while traveling is a step in the right direction."

Bob Racich, DVM, of River Falls, Wisc., said the findings make perfect sense: "The less moving parts you have, the less noise you have. With the VHB Tape, you have continuous adhesion instead of rivets, and you don't get wear like you do with rivets."

"For years, we've been hearing comments from horse trailer manufacturers about their observations and perceptions that trailers made with VHB Tape were quieter than traditionally made trailers," said Jason Van Stone, market development manager at 3M. "Now, thanks to this study, we have data that shows a quieter ride is possible.

Trailer manufacturers currently using VHB tape include:

  • Cimmaron
  • Bloomer
  • Exiss Aluminum
  • Sundowner
  • 4-Star
  • Western World
  • Trails West

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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