Hot on the trail(er) of success
This might be the first Truck Test event for trailer manufacturing company GRW, but it has been an industry player for nearly two decades. We talk to the company’s CEO, Gerhard van der Merwe, to find out why GRW got involved, and showcase some new developments at its primary manufacturing plant in Worcester, in the Western Cape.
Since its establishment in 1996, GRW has grown into a multi-tiered company that designs and manufactures a wide range of transport equipment in various configurations. These are designed and built to meet the customer’s exact requirements.
The company’s product range serves a variety of market sectors including: petroleum and chemical; construction and mining; fast-moving consumer goods; palletised and break-bulk general cargo. It also provides maintenance and repair services as well as financial services to fleet operators.
GRW’s world-class products are sold across southern Africa, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and Australia – a perfect partner for Truck Test 2015.
Why did you decide to get involved?
It was the first time that we participated in a Truck Test event. The event offers good exposure and a great marketing opportunity for us. There are several units from different companies that participated in Truck Test 2015, making it a good benchmarking exercise.
What trailer units were used in the test and why were these selected?
We provided seven identical 15,5 m, tri-axle, refrigerated semi-trailers.
The organisers wanted to use interlink and semi-trailers, so we opted to
supply the latter for this year’s event. The tri-axle trailers were for vehicles with smaller engines or less horsepower, and the interlinks were for those units with more power. This ensured continuity in the test performance, as all the units were identical.
How important is the Truck Test 2015 vehicle segment to GRW?
It’s very important. All our work comes from the extra-heavy industry.
What benefits do the Truck Test events deliver to the industry?
The tests provide a level playing field to compare different truck brands and their performance while towing the same trailers.
What did you look forward to the most in Truck Test 2015?
To see a good representation of our units on the road and the feedback from participants on our trailers. I also enjoyed seeing the latest technology that’s available for the trucks and other trailers. Everyone certainly entered their latest equipment.
Is there anything else that you would like to add with regard to Truck Test 2015?
It would have been great if the event could have run over more days – three, four or even five … it was a short test in terms of distance. Additional time would mean a longer route, which would provide more accurate figures under different topographies. It could then include flat roads, mountainous terrain, and so forth.
Perhaps future Truck Test events could become a one-week affair … GRW would also be able to add to the trailer selection, as it has enhanced its product offering, adding curtainsiders, flat decks and side-tipper units to its production mix.
GRW on the expansion trail
“Traditionally, we only built tankers. Then we added refrigerated trailers and bodies,” Van der Merwe explains. “We’ve now expanded our product range to what we call general freight, with the main objective of building world-class products. We realised that the market is hungry for a real quality product and our aim was to raise the bar. Time will tell if we have succeeded in our goals.”
GRW began its research and development work three years ago, ensuring a firm manufacturing foundation. “The construction work started a year ago,” Van der Merwe points out. The company added
13 000 m2 under-roof space to its Worcester manufacturing plant, now totalling 40 000 m², to handle these new developments.
“The expansion cost around R110 million. Part of this was for the purchase of new robotic equipment, an automated paint plant, laser cutters and new bending breaks,” Van der Merwe tells FOCUS. The factory isn’t the only thing that grew, however, as GRW added around 60 employees in the new wing.
The first unit rolled out in March and was delivered to Leon Van Vuuren Bulk Carriers, based in the North West town of Potchefstroom. “This was a high-spec curtainsider with additional add-ons,” says Van der Merwe, noting that the company was very fortunate to have received an order from such a prominent tautliner operator early in its production start-up.
“It tested our ability to meet high expectations and I am proud that we passed the test with flying colours. We are blessed to have customers like Leon Van Vuuren Bulk Carriers and thankful for the opportunity. We are extremely proud to now be associated with the company.”
Van der Merwe continues: “This is the first of many. We have a wonderful, full order book for new products and look forward to delivering these units to our customers.”