Clinton Holcroft, managing director of truck and trailer body building company Serco, says staying in touch with global trends and innovations is an important factor in providing local customers with a competitive edge.

As part of its strategy, Serco regularly visits international trade shows such as the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Germany – regarded as the one of the world’s leading trade fairs for transportation and innovation.

According to Holcroft, last year’s show – which was themed Driven by Ideas – focused on forward thinking topics such connectivity, automated driving, alternative power trains and digitisation.

Holcroft said he had been impressed by mobile apps used to interface with trailers using telematics to enable views of axle loads, brake performance or maintenance requirements, as well as the increasing use of cameras to monitor driver behaviour. Where possible, he said Serco would introduce these kinds of innovative systems to the vehicles it built.

According to Holcroft, a high profile new initiative for Serco was a supply partnership the company had entered into with Netherlands-based Loadlok, whose products include a wide range of load securing accessories and multi-temp dividers.

He said Serco’s focus this year would be on extracting improvements in efficiencies in the wake of the company expanding its trailer facility in Durban to accommodate machinery for injection panel manufacturing – a first for locally manufactured refrigerated trailers in South Africa.

“Serco has also been able to use its design innovation to manufacture a number of demountable truck bodies which have already helped a leading transporter to streamline its operations. Transporters are looking to maximise use of their fleets and we have been able to provide practical solutions,” he said.

On the subject of extending the life of used trailers, Holcroft said Serco had introduced rebuilding and refurbishment programmes which made full use of its national manufacturing and repair facilities.

Asked about company performance and challenges, Holcroft said 2016 had been an eventful year, with the highlight being the introduction of the injected polyurethane (PUR) foam panel manufacturing technology.

“With this new technology, we have achieved noticeable improvements in thermal performance and panel strength, which reflect our ongoing quest for innovation and our commitment to industry-leading standards of product quality.

“The new Serco Frost Liner trailer is a proudly South African-made product manufactured according to international standards. It is a robust trailer capable of coping with demanding operating conditions.

“Specially coated steel skin is applied to the inner and outer facings of the insulated panels. The outer skin has a durable smooth finish and UV protection, while the interior skin incorporates a food-safe PVC coating.”

Holcroft said Serco had achieved impressive year-on-year growth in 2016 despite tough trading conditions. “The local economy continues to experience low growth which is creating a headwind for transporters,” said Holcroft. “There are, however, pockets of positive growth in specialised segments.

“What is clear is that technology is accelerating at an exponential rate and the logistics of the future will be carried out in a highly digital and environmentally conscious way.”