Truck body specialist Serco’s new factory in Phoenix Industrial Park, Durban, is complete, adding an extra 6000m2 of undercover space to its existing premises.
According to the company’s spokesmen, there’s just a few final touches left for it to tend to before the company is all set to kick its operations into overdrive early in 2016.
“When the new line is fully commissioned with the new machinery in place we’ll be able to double our capacity, giving us a lot of scope for growth over the next few years,” said Serco’s Managing Director, Clinton Holcroft.
“It looks impressive and we are excited about the potential of the new facility which is going to change the way we manufacture. A production line principle will bring improved efficiencies and increased output,” he added.
Serco’s new plant’s ‘Green’ elements include clear sheeting along the sides of the building to provide natural lighting and a system to store rain water for use in the wash bays. Also in place is a sophisticated fire sprinkler system.
Another feature is a dock leveller for easy and efficient handling of materials.
Holcroft explained that an injection panel manufacturing process made possible by its new press would be a first in southern Africa in the area of refrigerated vehicle building.
“It will set a new benchmark for us in terms of panel strength and thermal efficiency,” he added.
Dynamic transport solutions
Serco recently delivered more than 50 new trailers and replacement bodies to Shoprite all featuring a new Solar-powered system designed to eliminate truck idling.
Previously it was necessary to keep the truck idling in order provide sufficient power to the rear mounted tail lift used for offloading cargo at Shoprite stores.
“With the solar panels in place engine-idling is no longer required, eliminating approximately 2 to 4 hours per day of idling for each trailer, thereby saving approximately 1600 litres of fuel per annum,” Holcroft explained.
He said that further benefits include eliminating the electrical cable connecting the truck and trailer, to power the tail lift, as well as reducing the workload on the truck alternator and starter motor which no longer have to work excessively to cope with the required power draw.
“The solar-power system is available through Serco and falls in line with our objective to reduce carbon emissions for transporters and provide winning solutions for our customers,” he added.
Serco also recently introduced the Robinson Shutter, an aluminium side roll-up door for dry freight transporters.
Unlike traditional barn doors that require an unobstructed swing clearance to open and close, the roll-up door can be easily accessed from the side, which offers improved access for loading of trucks.
The shutters bail up above the door aperture eliminating the need for internal roof mounted rails required by traditional roll-up doors, which are sometimes used by bodybuilders.
“The slim aluminium extruded profile makes the Robinson Shutter a lightweight, rattle-free option, which is simple to use and available with a variety of durable locking options,” said Holcroft.
Bakers Transport is the first South African transporter to opt for the side mounted roll up doors on seven of its new vehicle bodies manufactured by Serco.
Serco recently received an order from Simulus Logistix in Zimbabwe for specially designed trailers to accommodate maximum volumetric capacity.
The truck body specialist has built four new ‘step-decked’ trailers with double axles and a carrying capacity of 123m3 of volume and 13 tons payload versus the standard of 106m3, as well as two interlink trailers designed with well-decks and a carrying capacity of 138m3 and 32 tons compared to the standard of 124m3.
Graeme Good, Regional Transport Manager at Simulus Logistix in Harare, said the trucks are doing its job with ease and efficiency.
Serco will deliver a further nine specialist trailers to Simulus Logistix later this year.
“We designed them specifically for what Simulus Logistix wanted and we’re pleased that the trucks are working well. Its fibreglass construction provides good waterproofing and the double doors on both sides makes for easy access,” Holcroft said.
He explained that Serco’s engineers made use of low profile tyres and ‘underslung’ suspension in designing the trucks to reduce the chassis height and maximize loading volume.
Looking to the future
Serco’s operations are set to grow in 2016 and beyond thanks to its investment in the company’s infrastructure as well as its investment in growing its staff complement around the country.
While new truck sales may be on the downturn, Holcroft remains confident that the bodybuilding segment of the market will continue to grow well into the coming years.
“Increased retail activity will mean that more transporters will need trucks to move commodity. Our bodies are sought after not only for its quality and craftsmanship, but for our aftersales service,” concluded Holcroft.
For more information on Serco visit www.serco.co.za