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Connecting to the Midland

Dedicated to engineering Australian made trailers Midland Pty Ltd maintains an exclusive partnership with axle and suspension specialist Fuwa K-Hitch.

Fast becoming recognised as a key player in the trailer scene, Midland, operating out of Parkes in Central NSW, has been building its brand as a producer of high-end trailers for transporting plant and equipment machinery. The family run business services the road infrastructure industries.

Midland produces between 70-100 trailers a year. Plant and Equipment trailers comprise 91 per cent of Midland’s business model according to Managing Director, Martin Larsen, who runs the company with his brother Ben.

“That would be the bulk of our business,” he says. “We cater for heavy equipment transportation such as earth movers and asphalt companies and government bodies.”

As industry demands have necessitated larger trailers, Midland has diversified their range from tag trailers, dog trailers, drop decks and machinery float trailers. Over the journey, midland has constantly released many models, one being Hydraulic Deck Wideners, trailers designed for carrying larger excavators, rollers, road profilers and asphalt paving machines.

“It’s become very popular in the marketplace for us,” Larsen says. “The customer response has been very pleasing.”

Long-time partner Fuwa K-Hitch supplies Midland with a majority of its axles. The 19.5 inch axle coupled to the heavy duty Weweler suspension is a commonly used kit by Midland, especially for its low loaders.

“We’ve gone to that suspension purely because we’ve had an excellent run with it,” Larsen says. “It’s rugged and excellent in the harsh environments that these trailers are often going into it. We have tried other suspensions in the past and they haven’t been as successful as the Weweler.”

Larsen estimates that 90 per cent of the axles of his Australian owned business originate with Fuwa K-Hitch. The increased attendance of imported products in the transport marketplace has not curtailed the demand among his customers for Australian manufacturing.

“We’ve continued to use Fuwa K-Hitch because of their product support and the background help and should there be an issue they are there to assist,” he says. “They’re always willing to talk to our customers directly and help them out.”

He adds, “Their flexibility as an axle supplier has helped our flexibility and allowed us to pass that flexibility onto our customers in regard to making a variety of axle sizes and suspension kits available.”

Since expanding the Deck Widener range in the market, Midland has received numerous requests from its clients to offer customised trailers within the specific range. It’s been a significant factor driving growth.

“We feel the Deck Widener has become well accepted in the market,” he says. “Listening to our customers has been a game changer for us enlarging our presence in the growing trailer market.”

With its home base located in close proximity to Parkes National Logistics Hub, a multi-modal transport facility that Larsen’s company uses for dispatching its trailers, Midland supplies trailers nationwide. A Midland trailer has been delivered to every state and territory.

It currently allocates its products between a customer base comprised of individual contractors and major players like the three major national asphalt-spray seal companies. The drive to provide trailer models to fulfil the growing demand for extra carrying capacity has contributed to their expansion according to Larsen.

“Although Midland first entered the market to design and build Tag and Dog trailers we always had the vision of getting into larger float trailers,” he says. “Making larger trailers for the plant equipment transportation was a key part of our evolution. Everyone needs to have their equipment moved as soon as possible to avoid the pitfalls of down time and the machines are getting bigger. It’s the underlying reason why more private operators are buying their own transport equipment now instead of using contractors.”

Chris Barrett, National Sales Manager, Fuwa K-Hitch, adds that Midland is an important continuing partnership.

“From my perspective,” he says, “Midland build a quality product with quality people and we are proud to align with them.”


Fast Fact: Fuwa K-Hitch commenced its relationship with Midland in 2009. Aside from air suspension and axle packages, Fuwa K-Hitch has also supplied landing kegs, king pins and mechanical suspensions.

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Running with quality

For versatile and effective trailer builds, Austruck Truck Bodies aligns its business with component specialist, Fuwa K-Hitch.

The Australian Bureau of Statics released a report on road freight movements* that showed articulated and rigid-bodied trucks in Australia have moved over two billion tonnes of freight over a distance of 17 billion kilometres in the 12 months to October 2014, with just under three quarters (71.2 per cent) of the total tonnes originating in either New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland.

Also, over 95 per cent of the total tonnes carried by road were carried within the same state of origin and destination. A spokesperson from the ABS said that “sand, stone and gravel was the most common commodity moved across all states and territories, making up about 23 per cent of the total tonnes moved across Australia”.

Following positive trends with freight activities across Melbourne, original equipment manufacturer, Austruck Truck Bodies has supported local business with a variety of trailing equipment and rigid-bodied designs including curtain-siders, dog trailers, insulated vans, tippers and beaver tail trays since 1988.

There is an increasing demand for locally sourced axles and suspension systems, according to Austruck Truck Bodies Director, Frank Sellars. “Fleets are looking for the best return on their investment, and that also means specifying trailers that are optimised for versatility and longevity,” he says – adding that it is his long-term partnership with Fuwa K-Hitch that has helped him maintain a successful and enduring enterprise. “Part of my responsibility as an equipment manufacturer is to educate businesses on how to get the most out of their trailers. Whether a company needs to cart concrete pipes, consumable goods or even caravans, containers or larger, industrial gear, they need running gear that is spec’d for the task.”

Frank says that he supports local industry by investing in Fuwa K-Hitch axles and suspension systems, sourcing what the client needs. “The other advantage of specifying Fuwa K-Hitch is having access to reliable technical support. The team there understand precisely what I need, especially when I am looking for advice on how to get the most out of a particular trailer build.

Fuwa K-Hitch Regional Sales Manager, Diaa Bishara, says that Fuwa has been supplying the trailer builder with VDL Weweler air suspension systems with 8-stud drum brake axles that are fitted with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and auto slack adjusters for almost three years. “The ultra lite model supplied is a U-bolt type of suspension that allows flexibility for Frank when fitting the full Fuwa K-Hitch range of axle sizes such as 17.5”, 19.5” and 22.5” drum brake and disc brake models,” Diaa says. “Fuwa K-Hitch welds and assembles the suspensions to the axles at nominated chassis rail centres in Derrimut, Victoria, as well as pre-installing additions such as ABS pole wheels, fit brake boosters, sensors and automatic slack adjusters,” he says – adding that this method allows Frank to receive a modular suspension that is ready-to-install, alleviating costly labour and the need to perform critical welding while adhering to torque requirements.

Following positive trends in manufacturing and general freight, Frank says that investing in Fuwa K-Hitch running gear important for fleets to remain competitive and serviceable. “Downtime is never ideal, especially when a business relies on trailers and rigid-bodied equipment to get the job done,” he says. “I have aligned the Austruck Truck Bodies with suppliers like Fuwa K-Hitch because they are excellent, and everyone in the industry knows them by their solid reputation for quality. In terms of stock availability, Fuwa-Hitch turn stock around quickly, which is essential for forward-planning production and supplying fleets with.”

*Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Road Freight Movements, Australia, 2014

Fast Fact: According to Fuwa K-Hitch Regional Sales Manager, Diaa Bishara, in addition to providing axle, brake and suspension systems, the component specialist also provides a full range of products including pneumatic kits for airbags, hubodometers, spring brakes, manual raise/lower accessories, dump valves and landing legs, which he says makes life as easy as possible for original equipment manufacturers from a supply perspective.

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A quintessential combination

To manufacture productive and versatile road train trailers for Jamieson Transport in Western Australia, Bailey’s Body Builders specifies axles and suspension from Fuwa K-Hitch.

Iron ore was Western Australia’s highest value commodity during 2015-16, accounting for more than $48 billion (71 per cent) of total mineral sales*. The state’s figures cemented its position as the world’s largest exporter of iron ore, with sales volumes reaching 756 million tonnes, up from 719 million tonnes in 2014-15.

To meet the transport demand from the mining industry, David Bailey – owner of Bailey’s Body Builders – has been supplying the commercial road transport industry with road train trailers and heavy haulage equipment since 1989.

Semi-retired – and coordinating operations with his son, General Manager – John Bailey, from their facility in Armadale, he has seen many changes in trailer design since the advent of the Performance-Based Standards (PBS) high productivity scheme.

“In 1992, we thought a standard quad combination hauling 92 tonnes was big,” David says. “Now, we are manufacturing impressive road train combinations that can move 139 tonnes, utilising clever design coupled with reliable running gear. Even though the industry has seen many changes over the years, one constant is the requirement for high-productivity equipment that is built to last.”

One of David’s regular customers is bulk haulage business, Jamieson Transport, which has one of the largest fleets in the Pilbara region, with a significant selection of transport equipment built by Bailey’s Body Builders.

Jamieson Transport Workshop Manager, Willie Brennssell, says that he has recently taken delivery of a quin road train combination from Bailey’s, which has PBS approval to run 720km round trips between Port Hedland and authorised mines in Western Australia, hauling iron ore, manganese and copper concentrate. The quin has a Gross Combination Mass (GCM) of 200 tonnes and a payload capacity of 139 tonnes.

“This is our third quin to join the Jamieson fleet,” Willie says. “With one lead A-trailer and two connected B-doubles, we need suspension systems that will last the trailers’ lifetime and meet PBS requirements.”

To satisfy PBS requirements for lightweight tare, David confirms about 80 per cent of his customers specify Fuwa K-Hitch axles and suspension systems, which are also cost-effective and serviceable.

Willie explains that iron ore payloads in a standard trailer will typically transfer weight from the front to the rear axles in transit, which affects long-term suspension durability. “The quin combination is designed to transfer payloads more evenly via its multi-bin system, allowing for up to 23 tonnes per axle group. This balances out payload weight across the entire trailer combination.”

David also says that the multi-bin system ensures better stability and payload weight accuracy. “Separate bins can load within a close margin of accuracy – as opposed to one large bin. Also, by separating the payload into multiple storage points across the trailers, the stored materials are easier to manage, which is ideal in terms of safety, promoting significant efficiency gains, too.”

While the quin is limited to its PBS routes, Jamieson can unhitch the A-trailer, allowing the trailer combination to function as a quad, expanding its road network access capabilities – highlighting its diverse practical applications.

David says the quin is built for productivity with lightweight tare because a fleet simply cannot compete in the market without optimised heavy haulage equipment. ”Bailey’s Body Builders has worked with Fuwa K-Hitch for over 15 years, and its aftersales support has always been impeccable.”

Fuwa K-Hitch State Manager for Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Ryan Ussher, says that his team provides running gear that is suitable for the region’s harsh conditions, and has maintained a great long-term partnership with the team at Bailey’s.

“The quin trailers use our Pan 19 disc brakes with parallel bearings, 10×285 PCD axles in tri-axle groups and three-leaf suspension while all fixed trailer connections use Fuwa K-Hitch 90mm heavy duty ballraces,” he says. “Fuwa running gear is built to withstand Western Australia’s harsh conditions, and we understand the importance of minimising downtime that’s why we offer quality components and effective speed-to-market for replacement parts to support preventative maintenance tasks. Our team has access to the largest stock holding of trailer parts and components in Western Australia and can support all of our products in the field.”

The Jamieson Transport workshop engages in regular preventative maintenance because it is important to minimise downtime.

“In our experience, Fuwa K-Hitch components from running gear components to wheel bearings are readily available, which allows us to run a more serviceable and efficient fleet,” he says.

With the ebb and flow of mining activity, and the need to shift bulk payloads efficiently, David and John Bailey continue to invest in Fuwa K-Hitch running gear to provide fleets like Jamieson Transport with optimised road train combinations, promoting efficiency and versatility.

*Source: Government of Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum, Statistics Digest 2015-16.


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The next generation

Streamlining trailer production lead times and preparing for the future, Next Gen Engineering uses Fuwa K-Hitch axle and suspension systems as a standard across its business.

Optimising its trailer builds with Fuwa K-Hitch suspension and axle systems, trailer building business, Next Gen Engineering, has grown exponentially since its inception three years ago.

Operating from its new facility in Campbellfield, Melbourne, Next Gen Engineering Director and owner, John Abela, says that by the end of 2017, his company will have manufactured over 130 trailers in the year. “The new facility now has its own ‘spray and bake’ set-up as well as workshops with bending machines – all the machinery needed to do what we do best. This year, we continue to set new benchmarks for trailer productivity.”

John explains that he has worked hard to perfect his in-house operations to achieve efficiency gains, positioning the OEM for further growth while providing clients with prompt service and quality equipment. “Getting faster at building transport equipment means looking at the big picture while also considering every detail, no matter how small,” he says. “The team realised, within three months of opening shop in 2014 that it was possible to boost trailer manufacturing times by simply choosing axle and suspension gear that was much easier to work with.”

Fuwa K-Hitch Regional Sales Manager, Diaa Bishara, says that Fuwa has been supplying the trailer builder with KT250 air suspension systems with 10-stud disc brake axles that are fitted with WABCO Pan 19 brakes for about three years.

“The KT250 is a U Bolt version suspension that allows flexibility for John when fitting our full range of axle sizes such as 19.5” and 22.5” drum brake and disc brake models,” Diaa says. “Fuwa K-Hitch welds and assembles the suspensions to the axles at nominated chassis rail centres here in Derrimut as well as pre-installing additions such as Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) pole wheels, sensors and automatic slack adjusters.”

Diaa explains that Fuwa K-Hitch also supplies John with KI250 integrated air suspension that is suited for 22.5” wheels as well as a full range of products to suit John’s dog trailer applications including ball race assemblies, towing eyes and drawbar hardware which he says makes life as easy as possible from a supply perspective.”

“Fuwa K-Hitch gear seems to fit in almost seamlessly with our production builds,” John says. “The performance advantage is something like three-to-four days per trailer, which is phenomenal considering it now takes the company about seven working days to finish a new tipper or dog trailer, as opposed to 10-12 days.

“This boost to productivity is a boon to not only the end-user but also to the industry. The latest custom design to be delivered is a three-axle trailer tipping dog, which would have seen a longer production cycle if it wasn’t for the Fuwa K-Hitch axle and suspension fitting.”

John also explains that having access to a reliable supplier like Fuwa K-Hitch is essential for efficient forward planning. “Fuwa K-Hitch is a great supplier and has always maintained excellent communication, providing as much as three-weeks notice to advise ETAs for new axle and suspension deliveries.”

With Fuwa K-Hitch providing effective after-sales support, Next Gen Engineering can coordinate better trailer builds. John says that if a trailer build was to enter the axle and suspension stage without having access to the specified parts, it can waste an entire day – protracting the manufacturing lead-time, which makes Next Gen Engineering’s professional relationship with the manufacturer important for maintaining exceptional customer service.

Embracing the benefits of trailer building productivity – to benefit commercial transport operators looking for reliable tippers and transport equipment – Next Gen Engineering is working hard to push its capabilities even further.

“Next year, Next Gen Engineering will be out to play with the ‘big boys’,” John says. “I intend to ‘grab the bull by the horns’ to create a legacy as a reliable and efficient trailer builder, using quality axle and suspension gear to complement our goals of achieving greater operational efficiencies and shorter production cycles.”

Fast Fact: Since 2014, John Abela, Director and owner of Melbourne-based business, Next Gen Engineering, has narrowed the company’s focus on manufacturing general bodies and tipper equipment. “I decided to specialise because there are a lot of fleets out there looking for tippers at the moment, so much so that we’re actually trying to keep up with the demand for our gear. It’s a good problem to have,” he says – adding that the high demand doesn’t affect his delivery promise.

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Leaning locally

Rhino Trailers is well prepared for the major growth spurt in its Toowoomba home, thanks to the support of suppliers like component specialist, Fuwa K-Hitch.

The city of Toowoomba, Queensland – also known as ‘The Garden City’ – is blossoming. Heavy investments in the region from government and private entities alike will pump upwards of $1 billion into infrastructure and roads, much of which will directly benefit the heavy vehicle road transport industry.

One such project is the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub (TEH), which claims to be one of the most significant transport, logistics and business hubs in Australia, encompassing an internationally capable airport and a major freight facility with more than 2,000 hectares of industrial land. On top of that, access for heavy vehicles is being improved thanks to the $1.137 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC) project, which is making progress with Stage 2 of the Gore Highway works at Athol and the Warrego West interchange projects now underway.

Local trailer builder, Rhino Trailers, is already riding the wave of the region’s growth with an order book brimming with requests for its trailing equipment. Scott Arnold, General Manager of Rhino Trailers, says requests for its tippers and low loaders have been particularly strong over the last two years – also thanks in large part to the trailer builder’s close proximity to the Darling Downs and its significant grain production.

“Rhino Trailers has a strong focus on manufacturing tippers and road transport equipment with low tare weights and short lead times. Demand has certainly grown recently, we have 80 units on order and it’s absolutely crazy here,” Scott says. “The market is doing well, and thanks to our diverse trailer offering, we were prepared for this shift and are ready for any future fluctuations in demand.”

Scott says that when Rhino Trailers is in the thick of it, it turns to its suppliers for their support and on-time deliveries.

“When we’re dealing with such hectic times in the business, we need suppliers we can rely on to provide the right equipment at the right time that will perform – no questions asked,” Scott says – adding that a significant quantity of his fifth wheels, landing legs and axle and suspension units come from Fuwa K-Hitch.

“Fuwa K-Hitch makes a good, durable product that is known country-wide. As well as building quality components, it has a nation-wide after sales service that is always really good at giving us the help we need,” Scott explains. “Although we mostly deal with the Brisbane guys, every now and then it will fly someone up from the Melbourne head office to lend a hand if we need, it’s just fantastic.”

Fuwa equipment is Rhino’s standard fitment, Scott says, adding that other brands can be fitted on customer request. “It’s important to offer our customers a choice to ensure they receive a trailer that suits their needs. It’s part of our tailored manufacturing promise.”

That custom promise is echoed throughout the Fuwa K-Hitch offerings, explains Jayson Federico, Sales Manager Queensland and Indonesia. “Fuwa K-Hitch has every axle dimension covered, from general-purpose on-highway gear in the standard nine to 13 tonne range to extreme off-road equipment in the 20-tonne and beyond category,” he says. “On top of that, we will always go that extra mile to tailor a package that will suit the individual client, which is incredibly important in a time like today if you want to be able to add value.”

Jayson says Fuwa K-Hitch is very much a locally focussed business, aiming to deliver trailer builders like Rhino Trailers high-quality yet cost-effective equipment with no time to waste. “We place huge value on holding stock locally to ensure the quickest possible turnaround times from order to supply, which means we react quickly to our customers’ requirements while reducing their own inventory costs and reliance,” he says. “We have also forged close relationships with many trailer manufacturers locally to offer them the best possible pricing and service.”

Mirroring Fuwa K-Hitch’s customer focus, Rhino Trailers has recently expanded its service to encompass all its client needs, from small repairs right through to full refurbishments at its 11-acre facility in Toowoomba. “We’re really starting to push full refurbish and major crash repairs to ensure we can offer as much to the end user as possible,” says Scott.

He adds that Rhino’s location is a real drawcard for the transport operators working on the massive local infrastructure projects, with the most common alternative a two-hour drive away in Brisbane.

“We’re right on the doorstep of the construction, which is handy for people who don’t want to travel for repairs. Plus, our facility can handle combinations up to AB-triples right to the gate, otherwise to get to Brisbane they’d have to split the trailers,” Scott says. “Toowoomba is growing, and we’re growing right alongside it.”

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