Australia’s world-class trailer manufacturing industry may be struggling to keep up with demand, but key players reveal plans to showcase some innovative new products at the upcoming 2023 Brisbane Truck Show
Strike up a conversation with anyone from the trailer world at the upcoming Brisbane Truck Show and you’ll hear a similar story: “Our order books are full, but there is a lack of trades people and we can’t build enough, quick enough”.
This unique predicament is primarily due to supply chain issues that have hamstrung the trailer industry for more than two years. The pandemic is to blame and the ripple effects it has produced are taking their toll.
However, despite this the latest data shows new trailer registrations are through the roof, up a record 24.8 per cent over the past 12 months and forecast to keep growing at a rapid clip.
ARTSA-i Data Executive Director Rob Perkins says new trailer registrations in the past year have hit nearly 15,000.
“That’s 15,000 new heavy trailers put on the road since June 2021, that’s nearly a 14 per cent increase from the year before,” he says.
“It’s good for the manufacturers, their order books are full. People will snap up anything, but for the customer who wants to use the equipment it can be very daunting because they can’t walk into a dealership and buy a truck or trailer and get it delivered for a job by the following week.”
It’s a truly unique position around the world – a pandemic that continues to cause considerable disruption to supply chains and manufacturing and which has created a long waiting list for everyone. Yet demand is at record highs.
For Perkins, the bigger question is what’s driving the continued growth; and, just as importantly, whether it will continue.
“Why are we growing so quickly? I honestly can’t fully answer that. In the past, growth has often been driven by a change in technical standards, but we’re not facing that at the moment,” he says.
“However, the economy is retooling, things are on the move and there is no question that the transport sector is a good indicator of where the economy is going – moving stuff by truck means things are happening.
“Demand exceeds supply. And if people could buy it today, they would. But the problem is, the manufacturers of trucks, trailers and all the related componentry are really struggling to keep up with demand.
“This is being fuelled in the post-pandemic era by labour and materials shortages, stretching out delivery timeframes.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom, according to Perkins.
“I think we’re on the dawn of a huge opportunity. Our trailer manufacturers have never been busier, we just need to crack that labour and supply nut,” he concludes.
This sentiment is shared by Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) CEO Todd Hacking, who is excited for what he thinks will be the biggest Brisbane Truck Show ever in 2023.
“Just like during COVID, when we saw the instability and uncertainty thrust upon us from outside sources, now is the time to stay calm and together. The immediate period coming is going to test our resolve but HVIA will be doing what it can to ease the pain,” he says.
“Australia has some of the finest, most innovative trailer manufacturers and designers in the world. We are admired globally, and I’m extremely excited to see what examples of our industry are presented come Truck Show 2023.
“COVID supply chain issues and labour shortages are a present challenge but we know how resilient this sector is, just look at the latest numbers, and we know Truck Show will be where new models, innovations and launches will happen. It will be big!” Hacking adds.
Read on for a sneak peak of what Australia’s major trailer manufacturers are planning to showcase at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.
Truck Trailers On Show: MaxiTRANS
Australia’s largest supplier of locally manufactured trailers, MaxiTRANS, will celebrate another key milestone at the upcoming 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.
Maxi-CUBE, the company’s refrigerated trailer brand, marks its half century in 2022, a huge achievement, and follows sibling-brand, Freighter, which celebrated its 75th anniversary at the previous event.
MaxiTRANS always puts on an impressive display at the Truck Show, and the upcoming 2023 edition shouldn’t be any different.
On display will be the latest products from key brands including Freighter, Maxi-CUBE, Lusty EMS, Hamelex White, Trout River and AZMEB, covering all freight types, from general to temperature-controlled and bulk.
“We are excited to once again be a part of this great industry event and showcase our products at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.
“We are committed to supporting the great work of the HVIA and throw our support behind the event that continues to bring our industry together,” MaxiTRANS Marketing and Communications Manager Rick Challons says.
“As we saw with the 2021 show, the event is invaluable as it offers the opportunity to meet as many customers as possible in one location.”
Truck Trailers On Show: Drake Group
The Drake Group will celebrate 65 years of operation next year, so expect a great showing from the trailer juggernaut at the 2023 Truck Show.
But it’s the prospect of getting back to normal for the upcoming show that excites the company most.
“Although the last Truck Show was a huge success, there were still a lot of customers
and suppliers missing. It will be great to get back to normal and catch up again,” Drake Group Marketing and Events Coordinator Peta Albion says.
The Drake Group, which comprises Drake Trailers, O’Phee Trailers, Drake Collectibles, and Dalzell and Bagley Engineering, will have a bigger stand than in previous years, which the company says will make room for a wider selection of its brands and products.
“We’re going to have around seven trailers on display so we’re hoping to put on a good show
for everyone,” Drake Trailers Sales Manager Byron Foss adds.
“Now we have a bit more space, we will have a good mix of Drake and O’Phee equipment on display, so we’re very excited about the upcoming Truck Show.”
Led by John Drake, this proud family operation has built a rock-solid reputation as one of the best in the business.
According to Foss, work has never been busier. “I’ve been at Drake for 10 years and I’ve never seen it this busy,” he says.
“Obviously, it’s currently busy, but will be busy into the future as orders are still coming in, so that’s really exciting for the business and our employees.
“We love getting those phone calls from new customers who come to us without speaking to anyone else because of our reputation and we strive to keep that reputation that we’ve worked hard for.”
Drake has been based out of its purpose-built manufacturing facility in Wacol, Queensland since 1992.
Truck Trailers On Show: Holmwood Highgate
Leading bulk liquid tanker manufacturer Holmwood Highgate is confident of a big 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.
The Brisbane-based manufacturer, which builds premium liquid tankers out of its Brisbane and Melbourne facilities, says the event is a key marketing platform for its products, which now include a dry bulk tanker option unveiled recently.
“We are looking for record attendance levels and the opportunity to showcase our product to a greater audience than ever before,” Holmwood Highgate Marketing Manager Tom McKellar says.
“The event is always key for us to display our capability on a very broad and open platform.”
Despite the industry facing supply chain issues and labour force shortages, Holmwood Highgate believes things could be worse.
“(We are) busy and booming,” McKellar says. “Logistics and freight has never been in such high demand in Australia.
“We relish the opportunity and the challenge it presents to keep up with demand and will continue to do all we can to meet it.”
All suppliers are in the same boat, he adds.
“The issue is definitely on a global scale as demand has skyrocketed whilst labour forces and materials are becoming more and more scarce.
“Key personal is becoming more and more critical as time goes on. Though we are feeling the pinch, we are doing everything we can to stay ahead and do what we can to maintain a skilled workforce and meet critical dates,” he says.
The family-owned business employs more than 200 staff across its Queensland and Victorian locations, with its bread-and-butter fuel tankers, as well as bitumen, tallows, waste and oils, aviation and military refuelling applications.
Truck Trailers On Show: CIMC / Marshall Lethlean
When CIMC Vehicles purchased the renowned Marshall Lethlean brand in 2008, it knew it was buying a market leader.
Marshall Lethlean, which was founded in 1973, is a name synonymous with road tankers in Australia, supplying many major Australian companies.
The CIMC Vehicle Group — one of the largest semi-trailer manufacturers in the world — has strived to keep this reputation.
Taking advantage of its global network, the group believes it has achieved a good balance between value-for-money and a quality product with excellent local support and backed by a national service network.
“CIMC has moved from the traditional labour-intensive manufacturing model to a technology-intensive manufacturing model,” CIMC Vehicle Australia Managing Director Sven Liao says.
“CIMC trailers first landed in Australia in 2005. Since then, we have made a number of significant investments in local manufacturing, most recently in 2018, with a brand-new, purpose-built 51,000-square-metre facility being opened in Melbourne.”
It’s at this facility where all accessories are fitted and ADR quality control checks are performed by the CIMC team.
Liao is tight-lipped about what will be on show at CIMC’s 2023 Truck Show stand but expects a new tanker and curtain-sider design could be on display.
“We feel like this (Brisbane Truck Show) is one of the most important marketing events in Australia,” he says.
“It’s a very unique opportunity to have every trailer and truck manufacturer in the same place. We get to see old friends, customers and suppliers from all over Australia. It’s a great platform, and we really enjoy the opportunity.”
Truck Trailers On Show: Robuk Engineering
Brisbane-based Robuk Engineering opened its doors in June 2020, after owner James Yerbury decided to go out on his own.
The newcomer quickly outgrew its shed in rural Queensland and shifted HQ to its current facility at the Port of Brisbane where it specialises in light-weight aluminium grain tippers.
Thanks to a few incredible farming seasons, demand for grain tippers has kept Robuk, like many manufacturers, incredibly busy.
“We started with just three staff and a small shed in rural Queensland and we now have approximately 50 employees,” National Sales Manager Darren Riedel says.
After using the 2021 Truck Show as its “unofficial launch party”, Robuk will hit the 2023 event with style, with plans to unveil a special purpose-built combination.
“The Brisbane Truck Show allows us to tell the Robuk story face to face, and nothing beats that,” Riedel says.
“We are looking forward to our staff showing off the quality trailers that they’ve built. It’s amazing to see our team bring their extended friends and families through our stand with pride and joy.”
Robuk is always evolving, introducing new products, procedures and designs, Riedel adds.
“While we haven’t built any new designs lately as we have been inundated with grain tippers due to the brilliant seasons, we do have a few new designs we will launch next year,” he reveals.
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