Trail(er) blazing

Trail(er) blazing

The world would be a different place if it weren’t for transportation … Without it goods wouldn’t make it to market, or their final destination, and economies couldn’t progress. But the road transport industry would have looked a lot different if it weren’t for trailers.

The road freight industry is filled with wonderful transport-enabling equipment that allows commodities to go from point A to Z, everywhere in-between, and back again. But a truck tractor on its own wouldn’t make much sense … And specialisation is the name of the game when it comes to the towing world.

Enter Martin Trailers – a local manufacturer of specialised trailers and related equipment servicing the heavy-haulage industry, both nationally and abroad. “The transporting of machinery and materials can be a logistical nightmare,” says the company’s director, Kieron Gore. “The considerable expense and difficulty of transporting items, without having the correct equipment, can lead to project failure,” he adds.

It is, therefore, vital, for effective business operations, that companies acquire customised transporting solutions … Especially if you consider the increase in drilling, exploration and construction in sub-Saharan Africa – which, according to communication from Martin Trailers, has seen many companies turning to heavy-duty, flatbed extendable trailers.

Gore points out that the biggest advantage of this trailer is that it doesn’t need an additional permit in its closed position. “Folded up”, it is a legal flatbed trailer that runs within the permissible length. It then, however, has the ability to unlock and extend, allowing for transportation of much longer loads, making it a versatile and cost-effective logistics solution.

Because of the high customer demand, Martin Trailers has a dedicated production line for extendable trailers. However, Gore believes that a few elements differentiate the company in the marketplace. “We have introduced fundamentals that make our trailers easier to operate,” he points out. “These include pneumatic locks instead of manual locking pins and increased durability, due to the use of high-quality certified steel, while always applying the renowned build and welding procedures that have seen us operating for over 30 years.”

Martin Trailers hasn’t stopped there, however, as the company released a seven-axle prototype with 100-tonne capacity in April. “We are very excited about the new design. We are constantly looking at ways to innovate the trailer industry across Africa and the rest of the world.”

But the company has taken things one specialised step (or make that three steps) further, specifically designing and producing a trio of new trailers for opencast mines. These can be used to move tracked machines, haul trucks, drill rigs, shovels, excavators and dozers.

The challenge of reducing operational costs, while still being environmentally conscious, remains high on Serco’s agenda. The first new edition to the Martin Trailers family is a 250-tonne capacity, rear-loading trailer, which can lower to the ground hydraulically, for easier loading. Next up is a 300-tonne, front-loading, hydraulic, removable gooseneck, lowbed trailer. Gore says that this is the largest off-highway mining trailer supplied into Africa.

The third new member of this trailer family is a lowbed with a 200-tonne capacity, which incorporates a haul-truck towing mechanism in the gooseneck for towing disabled vehicles. It also sports a 50-tonne hydraulic winch for loading broken machines.

“Transport solutions for the mining industry can be costly and complicated,” emphasises Gore. “Each mine has unique requirements and considerations as a result of location, accessibility, budget, timing and the nature of the operation.”

And, due to the varying needs of this industry, Martin Trailers has also developed an entry-level unit, in addition to its flagship range of mining trailers. This caters specifically for smaller machines. It has an updated undercarriage and frame, which allows for an on-road capacity of 100 tonnes and 120 tonnes on the mine site.

However, the specialised-loads sector isn’t the only area in the world of trailers that has been experiencing growth and development …

Clinton Holcroft, managing director of truck and trailer body manufacturer Serco, explains: “We have a strong network of customers and suppliers with whom we collaborate, in order to continuously improve our product offering and thus provide our clients with a lower cost of ownership.”

Proof of this is the company’s aerodynamic, Eco package trailer kit, which includes durable side-mounted skirtings and a roof diffuser – boasting the potential to reduce fuel consumption for long-haul operators.

The company states that road tests conducted recently, in cooperation with the retail group Spar South Africa and Mix Telematics, between Durban and Richards Bay, proved the Eco package does indeed improve fuel consumption significantly.

Aerodynamics is, however, only part of the towing solution … Holcroft notes that, by using unique designs and materials, Serco is able to offer increased payload and improved durability in high-wear areas of trailers and refrigerated units. He adds: “With our expertise in multi-temperature solutions, different products can be transported in a single vehicle, at different temperatures, by using movable partitions to separate the zones.”

But, just as the transport industry can’t function without trailers, the towing world can’t exist without truck tractors … and, to help to address this, Paramount Trailers has officially opened its truck centre division.

“We announced our intention to launch this division towards the end of last year and we are proud to begin 2014 with the official opening,” says Warren Marques, MD of Paramount Trailers.

Paramount Truck Centre diversifies Paramount Trailers’ offering and, as Marques points out, provides a service that is required in today’s economic climate – investing in pre-owned commercial trucks and trailers.

The company states that its new division will purchase and sell pre-owned trucks and trailers that meet stringent standards. Customers wishing to purchase a new trailer are also able to trade-in their old unit, making for a smooth, less complicated process.

Marques adds: “Paramount Trailers has appointed Ettiene de Klerk, who has more than 10 years industry experience, as dealer principal to manage the daily operations. The new division will be located at Paramount’s new facilities off the R59, in Midvaal.”

“We will be purchasing single vehicles and fleets and will also be able to help customers source the correct truck or trailer to meet their requirements if we don’t have stock on the floor,” says De Klerk.

“This is just one of the many ventures that we anticipate launching over the next couple of years, as the company grows and we expand our offering,” Marques emphasises.

So, the trailer industry is teeming with new developments and possibilities that will enable more freight to make it to market and final destinations, as well as facilitating the transport of other equipment driving the economy. 


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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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