Local manufacturer of stain- less steel trailers Desert Wolf, also a member of the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda), is currently manufacturing R1-million worth of trailers for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
The trailers will carry stand- alone satellite communication systems for the 2010 soccer World Cup.
Desert Wolf MD Hennie Kieser explains that the SANDF identified the need for the standalone system, as the existing telecommunication networks can become overloaded at large events. This, he says, makes the networks unreliable, particularly for emergency and military personnel.
A full satellite system will be installed on a small trailer that will be easy to move around, and also create a separate network.
The specialised trailers are currently in the prototype phase, which means that the new trailers have been designed, but there is still the ability to explore design alternatives, test theories and confirm performance before starting production. The SANDF has installed large satellite dishes on their main control site and Desert Wolf is currently manufacturing the prototypes for the first two mobile units.
Kieser says that the latest technology in satellites will be used. This is proving to be a challenge for the Desert Wolf team, as the equipment for the technology is not readily available. He adds that the exact dimensions required for the trailers are not yet known, as it is a new project and the equipment, which needs to be measured, is still arriving.
When the company receives the equipment, it will install this on a trailer, which will then be sent to another company for the installation of the electronic system and internal wiring. Thereafter, the prototypes will be delivered to the SANDF to be tested at its Boekenhoutskloof base, in Gauteng.
Once the tests are completed, production of a further ten units will be under way. Kieser says that it hopes to have all ten units completed before the start of the 2010 soccer World Cup.
Desert Wolf is also undertaking a second project for the 2010 soccer World Cup.
Desert Wolf was contracted by the Western Cape Department of Health to design trailers to provide the department with mobility, and allow it to carry large amounts of equipment.
Kieser explains that these are medical trailers with stretchers, body bags, generators and lights. The trailers are primarily aimed at forensic activity, which includes investigating the cause of any accidents.
The pilot phase of the project will see the delivery of five units to the Western Cape. This phase will be complete by the end of May, this year. Kieser is confident that on completion of the first phase, there will be orders from the other provinces.
Redesigns of the trailers were not required as the company had manufactured similar trailers for Airports Company South Africa and for the British Defence Force.
Desert Wolf caters for the niche top end of the South African trailer market, particularly in the camping trailer market, and has not felt the effects of the current economic crisis.
He reports that company sales have not dropped. Desert Wolf receives between R1-million and R3-million worth of private business each month.
Currently, the company is looking to produce horsebox trailers as a result of enquiries from horse owners for different types of trailers. Kieser hopes the first prototype will be completed in the next few months.
The company is also manufacturing stainless steel camping canopies for a vehicle rental company, Ivory 4 × 4, to rent out with their 4 × 4 vehicles.
The company subcontracts a large quantity of work, such as laser cutting and computer numerically controlled bending, and it is also looking into robotic welding.
Desert Wolf has agents in Sweden, the UK and the Nether-lands, but most of its business remains in South Africa, owing to high shipping costs as a container holds only one trailer.
The company is also focused on expanding its footprint by establishing a factory in Van-couver, in Canada.