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One million reasons to smile

Since 2004 Kalgoorlie based mine haulage specialist, MLG Oz, has been using FUWA K-Hitch unitised hub disc brake axles on its trailers. Without fail the units have been exceeding a one-million kilometre lifespan in spite of the trying conditions under which they are operating.

MLG Oz provides an integrated platform of mine site support services comprising the supply of construction materials, crushing and screening services, bulk haulage – both on and off-road – and export logistics.

The company currently operates at 29 sites across regional Western Australia and the Northern Territory, servicing a diverse range of domestic and international mining companies.

According to Murray Leahy, Managing Director of MLG Oz, since switching to FUWA K-Hitch unitised hub axles the company has seen a dramatic reduction in axle-related maintenance on its trailers.

“We’ve used FUWA K-Hitch unitised hub disc brake axles exclusively across our entire on-road fleet of between 350 and 400 trailers and 200 dollies for the best part of 17 years,” Murray says. “Prior to this we were using drum brake axles and we have found the K-Hitch disc brake axle with WABCO PAN 19-1 callipers to be far superior.”

Murray says not only did the disc brake axles provide a huge improvement in braking performance, but reliability and uptime were also maintained at a high level, with a corresponding dramatic reduction in maintenance.

Murray explains that MLG Oz uses two FUWA K-Hitch products on its trailers – the K-Hitch unitised disc axles for on-road applications and the 17-tonne drum brake traditional application axle on the off-road trailers.

“Our haulage fleet is roughly 50-50 on-road and off-road and the on-road fleet spends about 35 per cent of the time on sealed roads and 65 per cent on unsealed but well-maintained haul roads,” Murray says.

“Both the unitised disc and traditional 17-tonne drum axles have been consistently reliable and given us good service across the fleet.”

Murray elaborates that the company works in fairly arduous conditions and that the unitised hub has eliminated the need to do regular bearing repacks that were necessary with the earlier axles.

“A full bearing repack on a quad roadtrain is a several-day job and finding quality tradespeople to do this work is getting harder these days,” he says. “When you extrapolate that out across the whole fleet it amounts to a huge saving in labour costs.”

Murray stresses that from the time the company started using the unitised hub axles there was an immediate increase in operational time due to the corresponding drop in trailing equipment maintenance.

He adds that there was a need to train workshop staff in new preventative maintenance procedures necessary to ensure longevity of the disc brakes in the dusty environments in which the trailers operate.

“Regular rim tap-outs to remove the accumulated layers of dust at regular intervals is imperative,” Murray explains. “and if a brake starts chattering or shuddering then it’s necessary to check the calliper slides for issues such as inadequate lubrication.

“Once you have your workshop staff understanding these principles its really easy to keep everything operating smoothly, and the regular maintenance is simple too,” Murray says – adding that the K-Hitch products are very straightforward in design and operation, which is a great advantage.

“They are not hard processes to understand and learn, so once you lock them in it’s basically set and forget,” he says.

Murray expounds on the K-Hitch one-million kilometre warranty, saying that when the company first offered it there was scepticism in the industry about the products being able to last that long. However, he says they have delivered on their promise.

“The first sets of trailers we had with the unitised axles did 1.3 million kilometres without having the bearings touched,” he says. “These days we change the bearings at one-million kilometres and we know they’ll be good for another million. We have complete confidence in the product because we know it can do the distance – we can’t fault it.”

Similarly, with the 17-tonne drum brake FUWA axles, Murray says while the maintenance is a little higher compared with the unitised axles, the product is very robust and reliable under the harsh operating conditions.

“We’re running them hard – consistently heavily loaded to around 16.5 tonnes per axle in harsh off-road conditions. But, again, it’s simple and parts availability is spot on – the product is well supported and fits our operating model very well.

“FUWA K-Hitch has been very thorough in ensuring the utmost in quality control in the manufacturing of the axles and this has given us supreme confidence in the products for our applications,” Murray says.

“All up, they are great products that are well priced, with back up and support from the team at FUWA K-Hitch in Perth that’s second to none.

“We couldn’t ask for more.”

Fast Fact: MLG Oz runs a large fleet of on- and off-road quad roadtrain tipper combinations fitted with FUWA K-Hitch axles. Since transitioning to K-Hitch unitised hub disc brake axles with a one-million kilometre lifespan, the company has realised a dramatic drop in trailer maintenance requirements.

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Built to last

The need for robust and reliable trailer axles and components for its builds led trailer manufacturer Harris Automation Engineering to Fuwa K-Hitch. Now, 14 years on, the company remains convinced that the products and service it receives from Fuwa are unbeatable. 

Harris Automation Engineering specialises in the manufacture of a wide variety of trailers and bodies to suit the individual needs of its customers.

The company prides itself on its innovative approach to design and manufacturing techniques, focusing on continual product improvement along with safety and efficiency for operators.

The range includes extreme-duty outback models extensively tested by the company’s Research and Development team to ensure each product and associated components exceed the expectations of clients.

In fact, one of the factors that initially drew Harris Automation Engineering owner Brendon Harris to Fuwa K-Hitch was Fuwa’s inclusion of what he considers to be the best bearings in the business.

“Fuwa K-Hitch uses Pro-Par bearings in its trailer axles which I really like,” Brendon says. “Fruehauf used to use Pro-Par bearings and when you have a trailer that’s 45 years old and still has the original axles, I believe that says it all.” Brendon says he also believes the Weweler suspension supplied by Fuwa K-Hitch is an extremely good product.

“The suspension I like to use from Fuwa K-Hitch is the Weweler 11-tonne airbag which I think is bullet-proof,” Brendon says. “We’ve been testing it on our trailers in outback Northern Territory and it’s proven to be more than up to the task.

“We also use a number of other K-Hitch components including landing legs, kingpins, fifth wheels and air tanks.”

He mentions that keeping in touch with clients is an important aspect of the company’s operations, ensuring continual product improvement.

“I talk to all my clients to see how things are going – it’s not like we build a trailer and never talk to them again,” Brendon says.

“You should be able to buy a trailer and run it for 10 years, then bring it back for an overhaul and have it looking brand new again.”

Brendon emphasises that his company is not a volume producer; rather working with its customers to build trailers and bodies exactly to their individual requirements.

The range of trailers the company builds is extensive, including pig and dog trailers, semi-tippers, flat-tops, drop decks, skels and retractable skels. The company also specialises in bespoke bodies for applications such as horse transportation.

Other facets of the business include refurbs and suspension conversions with all work done in-house. As such, there are blasting and paint bays, a steel press and a plasma cutter – the latter two enabling the formation of trailer chassis, crossmembers and other components from flat steel plate.

According to Fuwa K-Hitch Regional Sales Manager, Diaa Bishara, the company has, for more than 10 years, been supplying Harris Automation Engineering with a wide range of components including mechanical suspension and VDL and KI air suspension systems with 8-stud and 10-stud drum brake axles. These are fitted with ABS pole wheels and auto slack adjusters as well as an axle lift function if required.

“The VDL is a U-bolt style of suspension that allows flexibility for Harris Trailers when fitting our full range of axle sizes including 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 at our facility in Derrimut (Vic), and we also pre-install additions such as Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) pole wheels, brake boosters, sensors and automatic slack adjusters.

“In this way the customer receives a modular axle and suspension system that’s ready to install easily to their chassis – which eliminates the hassle and time factor of customers having to undertake critical welding and torquing requirements themselves.”

Diaa explains that Fuwa K-Hitch also supplies Harris Trailers with other necessary components including landing legs, spring brake chambers, fifth wheels, ballrace assemblies, drawbar kits and tow eyes. This, he says, makes life as easy as possible from a supply perspective.

“We do all this whilst offering extremely competitive pricing and what we believe are industry-leading stock availability and the shortest production turnaround times in the business,” Diaa says.

“In fact, generally we can have the product to the customer within five to seven working days after ordering, giving them greater flexibility in planning their own production requirements.

“For anything outside of this we are just a phone call away and ready to assist wherever possible.”

Brendon Harris confirms that the team at Fuwa K-Hitch has always been helpful and prompt in supplying him the products and advice he’s required.

“Diaa and Chris Barrett (National Sales Manager) are good blokes, and the store people are pretty cool,” he says. “They’ve always been willing to help any time I’ve needed them.”

Fast Fact: For the last 14 years bespoke trailer builder Harris Automation Engineering has standardised on Fuwa K-Hitch products including Weweler 11-tonne air suspension, landing legs and kingpins.

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Going above and beyond

Intercontinental Spares at Shepparton is an agent for leading truck and trailer component manufacturer Fuwa K-Hitch. The company also builds trailers under the banner of ICS Trailers, using the tried and tested Fuwa K-Hitch products including axles, suspension, fifth wheels and landing legs.

Intercontinental Spares (ICS) has been in operation for the past 20 years and has been associated with Fuwa K-Hitch for the previous 15 years.

The company builds a wide range of trailers including single and B-double flat-tops and drop-decks, the latter either with or without beaver-tails and ramps. Other variants include machinery-carrying drop-deck wideners with either one-piece or bi-fold ramps as well as pig, tag and dog trailers.

The business was started by Jack Nind and is now managed by his son Scott who says that the company previously used another brand of trailer axles and suspension in its trailer builds but switched to Fuwa K-hitch on the strength of the brand’s product support, quality, availability and value for money.

“Our specialty is drop-deck trailers including drop-deck wideners and standard drop decks for machinery,” Scott says.

The company employs 15 people including five who build the trailers, all of whom take pride in their workmanship and in building trailers of the highest quality and style for valued clientele.

According to Scott, the popularity of ICS trailers can be gauged by the fact that the company has an order book that stretches four months ahead, which ensures the fabricators are always kept busy.

“These days we go to great lengths to produce tailor-made trailers for our customers, many of whom appreciate the extra attention to detail that we put into them and the fact that we regularly correspond with them to ensure they are getting exactly what they want,” Scott says.

“We really like to get the customer fully involved with the build rather than just pushing trailers out the door as quickly as possible. That way we are able to finish off the trailer exactly how the customer wants it and they have a lot of input into what gets welded on where and things
like that.”

One such customer is Adrian Tyndall who owns an excavation business based at Waaia, about 40km north of Shepparton.

This is the first trailer Adrian has had built by ICS Trailers, and he says he is highly impressed by the quality and the fact that nothing was too much trouble to incorporate into the build. Adrian adds that good old-fashioned word-of-mouth from a friend set him on the path to ICS Trailers’ door.

“A friend of mine who had a tag trailer built by the company put me onto them,” he says. “I really liked the look of it and wanted my new trailer to have a similar high-end appearance, which is why I asked ICS Trailers to build it.

With his new trailer Adrian wanted a number of bespoke features and he says Scott has shown a willingness to provide the exact product to meet Adrian’s needs.

“It’s the interaction and constant talking to and fro that ensures everything has been done exactly the way I want it,” Adrian says.

“This is a really special trailer for me and I wanted it to look really good,” he adds. “I’m 60 now and I’ve had a good year so it was time to make that happen.”

The trailer is a 47’ drop-deck with ramps and outriggers that slide out from each side for carting wide machinery.

Adrian says he recently refurbished a 14-year-old Kenworth T404 SAR which will be a fitting complement for the new trailer.

Asked about the Fuwa K-Hitch axles and suspension fitted to his new trailer, Adrian said he was pleased to use the running gear that Scott supplies and overall he couldn’t be happier with the finished product.

Scott says in addition to using the robust and reliable Fuwa K-Hitch components, he employs a talented team of trailer builders, including his head builder who has been with him for over 20 years and who prior to starting with ICS learnt his skills with another prominent trailer builder.

ICS is a diverse business that entails considerably more than its core specialties of trailer component supply and trailer building. The company also carries out refurbishments and repairs to trailers including fridge vans, and also supplies and fits Carrier and Thermo King refrigeration plants.

Other strings to its bow include the modification and sale of shipping containers for various uses including portable buildings, offices and shower blocks. The company also builds and installs V-drive gearboxes for boats.

“We pretty much do everything connected with trailers which makes you head in a lot of different directions,” Scott says. “Shepparton is a good place to have a trailer business as there is no shortage of truck operators.”

As a supplier of Fuwa K-Hitch components and a trailer builder that uses and recommends the products, ICS will continue to build high-quality trailers specifically tailored to individual operators’ needs.

Fast Fact: Formed 15 years ago, Intercontinental Spares is an agent for Fuwa K-Hitch components and also a trailer builder that uses Fuwa K-Hitch axles, suspension, fifth wheels and landing legs in the trailers it builds.

 

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