AFRIT is one of the most respected and innovative trailer manufacturers in Africa, and is highly regarded by many customers operating in the transport industry. While the company ethos is one of ‘delivering the goods’, the people at AFRIT are not boastful and generally shy away from the limelight.
Given the company’s vast experience in the trailer manufacturing business, Trucks & Heavy Equipment asked AFRIT to provide some advice, especially for start-ups and new operators. Tjaart van der Walt, AFRIT’s Boksburg Branch Manager, obliged.
What advice would you give freight operators transporting fully loaded trailers on roads, which at times leave a lot to be desired, ensuring the operators get the best optimisations from the trailers during their lifespan?
Would this advice differ to those operating north of South Africa’s borders compared to freight owners only operating in the country?
It is important to offer the correct specification vehicle for the correct application. We recommend a certain trailer spec to a customer according to the road conditions that they will be traveling on. Should the customers operate mainly on bad tar and gravel roads, we will offer a heavy-duty chassis and suspension.
This will also be relevant for our customers operating up north, as the road conditions aren’t always of the best quality. We recommend that freight owners implement a process whereby they do a suitable amount of preventative maintenance. By doing that at more regular intervals compared to only servicing vehicles every 300 000km, will allow the operator to pick up on issues early and before breakdowns occur.
Bad road conditions can have a massive impact on the running gear of a trailer. By bringing these vehicles in regularly for a minor service or check-ups, operators can ensure that all the necessary bolts are torqued to ensure that the vehicle runs without problems.
What should operators be doing to ensure the trailer delivers the goods efficiently?
We believe that training forms an integral part of a smooth operation. The driver/operator needs to understand the equipment in order the get the best productivity. For example, coaching and informing drivers on the impact of various issues, such as under-inflated tyres, and the cost and productivity impact these can have.
Drivers should be trained to do visual inspections before a trip to pick up on issues that can be resolved before they leave. This will certainly minimise the chances of a breakdown and lost productivity.
Does this differ between trailer types or is it similar for all types of trailers?
More specialised trailers require drivers to be specially trained. Operating a trailer such as a low-bed, which requires securing heavy equipment with chains, will require the correct training to ensure that the load is properly secured before a trip commences. This, compared to the task of strapping a pallet load on a flat deck or sliding curtain trailer, is different.
What are the latest trends within the trailer market?
How have these made the trailers more efficient to operate?
More operators are investigating applying Performance Based Standards (PBS). This is where an operator gets the necessary approval from the authorities to operate an abnormal vehicle on a dedicated route, with a dedicated commodity, on a public road. This then enhances operator efficiencies in terms of the payload carried and thus the productivity per vehicle.
At AFRIT, we develop trailers for this type of application by adapting the vehicle to carry more payload and enhancing the Gross Combination Mass (GCM) of a rig without affecting the road surface. This is done by adding more axles to an interlink-trailer combination, and by not allowing these axles to be overloaded, while still complying with the regulated overall restrictions.
At AFRIT, we develop trailers for this type of application by adapting the vehicle to carry more payload and enhancing the Gross Combination Mass (GCM)
In the long run an operator will need fewer vehicles to do the required work; and so doing will help to reduce road congestion and the negative impact on road surfaces and curbs. More operators are looking into dual-purpose trailers that allow them to cater for different markets, ensuring they minimise empty return runs The dropside- interlink-type trailers are a good example of this ‘multi-purposing’ concept. The operator can carry anything from grain to pallet loads on the same trailer, thereby ensuring greater flexibility for the operator.
How often should maintenance be undertaken on a trailer? What are the best maintenance practices transport operators should implement to ensure they get optimum usage from their trailers?
If an operator can implement a process of preventative maintenance, this will add value to the operation. This process shouldn’t be time-consuming. It is merely an inspection to ensure everything is running smoothly. Depending on the specification of the trailer, we recommend that the trailer gets a minor service every 30 000km, and a major service every 200 000km, or once a year.
The type of road conditions can also influence service and maintenance intervals. If one operates on bad roads, it will be advisable to inspect trailers more often. It’s advisable to send a trailer for service in conjunction with the truck’s service interval. This ensures they are both out of operation simultaneously, and that servicing does not impact on overall fleet uptime. In most cases, this would be at 30 000km intervals.
What new products are available to the market in 2015/2016 and what makes these ideal for the African market?
AFRIT recently added AFRIT Tanker Solutions to its group of companies. ATS manufactures different types of tanker trailers for the South African and African market. AFRIT is committed to continuously improve our existing product models, adapting them to customers’ needs.