In its drive to become a “one-stop truck and trailer shop”, local commercial trailer manu- facturer Paramount Trailers has invested more than R40-million in two new divisions – Paramount Trucks, and a service, repair and refurbishment factory – at its 75 000 m2 Midvaal manufacturing facility in the past year.
With these two new divisions, the size Paramount Trailers’ property is now close to 100 000 m2, with each additional stand in excess of 10 000 m2.
Paramount Trailers MD Warren Marques explains that the Paramount Trucks division, which operated for a few months before officially opening in September at the company’s premises in Kliprivier Business Park, manages the retail of commercial trucks.
“This division currently sells the Powerstar Truck range, which the company has been authorised to sell since September. These developments ran parallel with the company showcasing the Powerstar Truck range, along with a full range of rigid body bins, at the truck conference and expo TruckX Exhibition, held in Sandton, Gauteng, in July,” he says.
Paramount Trucks is currently in discussion with two other original-equipment manufacturers regarding the supply of new truck ranges, Marques adds.
Paramount Trailers’ service, repair and refurbishment factory was opened in July. “This division is solely focused on returning trailers to customers as quickly as possible to reduce downtime,” Marques says, explaining that the aim is to continue the servicing and refurbishment of trailers without creating unnecessary congestion at the company’s main manufacturing facility.
Paramount Trailers FD Paulo Ribeiro agrees, adding that the supply of commercial trucks in essence closes the supply chain loop, as any customer, whether opting to buy a trailer or truck, is offered a total service. This is supported by a focused services and repairs environment to proficiently deliver trailers in a ‘just like new’ condition to their owners, he says.
He further highlights that, based on the current economic situation in South Africa and cross-border, the company has noted an increase in trailers being repaired and refurbished, as opposed to investment in new capital equipment.
While commodity prices for manganese, platinum and iron-ore are down, impacting heavily on local mines’ production output, a key transport contender is the local railway network, which has been “pushing hard” to regain a share of its historic market, Marques adds.
Although trailers have played a key role in transporting goods and supplies, either to or from the mining industry, the sales of trailers is negatively impacted on by the current lack of demand in the industry, he laments.
Marques nevertheless notes an increase in the sale of multifunctional trailers, as well as in its “bread and butter” flatdecks and triaxle and superlink trailers. He attributes this increase to the possible shortening of transporting contracts and the increasingly varying nature of the cargo to be transported.
“Customers also consider investing in superlink tautliners, closed-van bodies and refrigerator-van bodies to increase the safety and security of their merchandise in transport,” he says. Additionally, there is the shift from using standard trailers to using multi- functional trailers where extra accessories, such as container locks, pole pockets and chain pockets, are all now required.
This is in contrast to the sales of the Paramount Link Side Tipper, which have decreased significantly as a result of challenges in the mining industry and falling commodity prices.
Therefore, Paramount Trailers has designed and manufactured a new trailer, which is being tested. Details of the new trailer will be released within the next two months, Marques says.
“We believe that stability and economic growth in South Africa and the Southern Africa region are key to the long-term plan. Protecting and helping local businesses form a significant part of this plan, and ensuring supply of materials and components at affordable prices will allow for a long-term future. Partnering with labour and government for a long-term approach will also keep the industry sustainable,” Marques suggests.
While aluminium forms a small percentage of Paramount Trailers’ manufacturing materials and steel the bulk, Ribeiro notes, steel pricing is currently relatively advantageous, despite the current challenges that suppliers face in the steel sector.
“The company is benefiting from a pricing perspective, owing to the increased competition from steel suppliers,” Ribeiro says, but acknowledges the quality concerns regarding steel imports.
He advises that manufacturers need to be aware of the product features used in manufacturing, ensuring that the quality is consistent, and warns that disruption in supply of materials or the weakening of local currency to major currencies will put more pressure on the industry.