This will hopefully be achieved through the satellite deployment system that the company is supplying to Armscor.
Desert Wolf conceptualised the concept of a satellite deployment system in 2005. The idea behind this system is that a communications system is set up in the back of a robust all-terrain trailer. Once this communication system is activated, the signal is bounced off a satellite to its intended recipient. Desert Wolf reports that this system is tailor-made for African conditions as there are very few countries in Africa that can provide a secure telecommunications system needed for these operations in rural areas.
The company adds that Armscor is acting on behalf of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on this project. Defence forces such as the SANDF are further contracted by the United Nations as peacekeeping forces in areas of conflict throughout Africa.
Desert Wolf is expected to hand over six satellite deployment systems to Armscor by mid-2009.
Desert Wolf MD Hennie Kieser says that Armscor approached Desert Wolf because of its successful completion of a number of projects for the SANDF.
In October, 2007, Engineering News reported that the first project for the Special Forces unit of the SANDF was awarded to the company in 2003, followed by a second phase in 2005. The last phase of the contract, for the delivery of satellite trailer systems, is scheduled for completion in 2008.
"The design of all the units required a range of systems using a generic chassis with many different loading bin configurations. The different models have to be air-deployable so that they can be dropped by plane using normal SANDF vehicle parachutes, and with hoist points for helicopter-lifting recovery purposes," says Kieser.
Also, spares for the trailers have to be inter-changeable and maintenance must be easy. Various camouflage patterns and colours are available and track width and wheel types are matched with the different tow vehicles. Kieser adds that the SANDF required a product that would last for many years, making stainless steel a good choice of material.
Desert Wolf designed and manufactured a range of trailers for the SANDF, the first of which is a general-purpose trailer used for carrying ammunition, tents and other items. The medical rescue trailer units were designed to carry all the medical equipment needed for first-line medical treatment and emergency operations.
"The company designed a foldaway operation table with drawers for the medical equipment, oxygen and anaesthetic gases. A power supply unit and a medical operation tent were also developed," says Kieser.
Further, it manufactured command and control trailer units, which are equipped with radio communication equipment, and can be dropped out of a plane with a parachute. The unit allows for easy setup of full ground-to-ground, ground-to-air, and ground-to-sea communication capabilities within a short period.
Kieser reports that there are no immediate expansion plans to introduce the military trailers into the rest of Africa as most military forces prefer to purchase similar trailers from Chinese suppliers. However, he reports that the company is planning to establish a production and distribution centre in Vancouver, Canada.
"The company is sending a representative over to Vancouver in July to finalise the company's registration and to sign the contract for the premises. Initially, the Canadian office will serve as a service centre for trailers that are imported into Canada from South Africa. The company is targeting June 2009 as the date when the Canadian office will move into full production of Desert Wolf trailers in Canada," says Kieser. He adds that there are no immediate plans to move into the US market. However, Kieser is not ignoring the fact that there is great potential for growth in that region.
He reports that the two foremost challenges in the industry are the rising price of steel and the current energy crisis.
Kieser says that Desert Wolf experienced a 40% increase in the price of steel in the past few months. This has a detrimental effect on the company as the company in turn has to increase the price of its trailers by the same amount in an effort to overcome this. "Because there is no other company in the country that produces a similar product, the company targets the top end of the market. In this sense, the customers understand that increases like this are necessary and are financially equipped to pay more for the product," says Kieser.
The company has also been hit hard by the current energy crisis. Kieser says that there is no current generator set that is strong enough to run the whole production facility. The company has purchased four smaller generator sets to run the power tools at the facility. He adds that this causes a delay in production schedules. "Fortunately the SANDF and Armscor are very understanding about the energy situation. But it is hard for the company motivate a client in Canada to be understanding about the situation when they are not experiencing a similar one," concluded Kieser.