Driver safety and comfort coupled with cost-efficient operating costs, transparency in the purchasing and body-building process and excellent back-up service has made FAW the number one truck choice for medical goods manufacturer and distributor, New Horizons Metal


New Horizons Metal is a tight-knit operation focussed on cost-efficiency and on-time delivery of its products to the medical community.

The medium-sized enterprise, based in Briardene, KwaZulu-Natal, specialises in manufacturing hospital furniture such as medical trollies, carts, gurneys or other wheeled stretchers and almost all types of metal medical equipment required for a clinically sterile environment.

“We work mainly with stainless steel or aluminium, and easy-to-clean padded top equipment, such as examination tables for clinics and doctors’ rooms. Our items are highly specified in respect of dimensions, materials used and quality standards. We have over 400 line items which we manufacture ourselves with our staff of 30 people,” explains Sagren Naidoo, a partner in the family-owned business.

“As a wholesaler to clinics and hospitals and a retailer to doctors and specialists, we also have to manage the logistics from our production plant to the end-user or consignee. Of course, one of our challenges is the input price of buying materials such as stainless steel, so it remains imperative for us to control our costs throughout the whole supply chain – from material procurement, manufacturing, packing and distribution.”

New Horizons Metals does most of its own distribution, contracting out to third-party courier or break-bulk services only when logistics or costs warrant it. “We use a FAW 15.180FL for deliveries to points in far-flung, rural areas and which are either out of reach of normal courier services or where costs indicate a saving in using our own vehicle,” says Naidoo.

“One advantage of using the FAW 15.180FL is certainly driver comfort – our vehicle features a semi-sleeper cab; a well-sprung, air-suspended seat; an adjustable steering column and air-conditioning. A comfortable driver is a better driver. We’re seeing cost-effective driving with low fuel consumption, low wear and tear and good vehicle condition all round.”

Further adding to driver safety, the FAW 15.180FL is equipped with standard features such as ABS brakes with automatic adjustment for slackness.

According to FAW Vehicle Manufacturers SA, the 15.180FL is aggregated to a gross combination mass of 24 tons. With a GVM of 15 tons, the vehicle provides a healthy eight-ton payload, depending on body configuration.

“What is naturally important is the back-up and aftersales support we enjoy from the team at FAW’s regional centre in KZN, which provides us with excellent standards of service and a guaranteed supply of original parts,” says Naidoo.

The truck used by New Horizons Metals features a modified fuel tank, enlarged for a longer delivery range and to cut down refuelling stops. “We also needed to secure the load, the driver’s safety and the safety of the vehicle. For these reasons we installed a small number of extras, some of which include an anti-tampering fuel cap and a special security cover for the battery.”

Another accessory which New Horizons says has proved a boon for drivers is a lockable toolbox which is used by the driving team as a safe personal storage space during rest stops or when overnighting between legs on country-wide routes.

“One of the more important issues for us was the transparency which FAW showed in dealing with us and the truck body-builder, RAM Bodies, which produced an exceptional 2,6m x 2,6m x 7,5m (extra-length) 0,8mm mild steel closed box body. Their dealings were honest and open and we appreciated this very much,” says Naidoo.

“Our plan is to run the FAW15.180 on a five-year, 400 000km work cycle and then assess replacement cost. We are also looking into the possibility of acquiring a FAW8.140 for our one-day trips on shorter routes.”