Home / ANALYSIS / Desert trailers: the market leaders in trailer and truck body building

Desert trailers: the market leaders in trailer and truck body building

by John Bambridge on Aug 2, 2017

A classic banana-shaped cement bulker produced locally by Gorica Industries.
A classic banana-shaped cement bulker produced locally by Gorica Industries.

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The last twelve months have been a tumultuous time for the transport industry in the Gulf, as the persistent depression in oil prices came to a head in late 2016 — hitting the budgets of regional governments hard and causing a significant slowdown in the construction sector.

This situation has had severe impact on the heavy commercial vehicles segment in many countries in the region, but particularly in Saudi Arabia, where according to the estimates of several heavy truck manufacturers has declined by anywhere between 60% and 70%, since 2014, from a total population numbering around 10,000 units to just a few thousand units in 2016.

It is ultimately unclear whether this is due to fleet operators standing their fleets down, or whether they are simply refraining from new purchases and fleet renewal. However, the result for manufacturers and fabricators supplying products into the segment is the same: it makes for a challenging market.

Ivan Fornazaric, founder and MD of the Gorica Group, has now been involved in the trailer and truck body segment for 30 years.

Commenting on the challenges facing the segment, he notes: “The current general market situation is volatile and unpredictable, due to both economic and political upheavals in the region, and has been impacted by both low oil prices and cash flow problems. However, some industry sectors are still performing well, especially if you look at logistics and food transportation.

“By covering various sectors we can balance these ups and downs, despite all the challenges, by shifting focus on sectors that perform well at any one point in time.”

At the same time, Fornazaric notes that ongoing developments in truck and trailer regulations in the region are a current and ongoing stimulus for growth in the market.

He explains: “The change and enforcement of new road traffic regulations will lead the market to being filled with higher quality and more deserving products. Sooner rather than later, the governments in the region will have to stop the import of old, used trucks and especially trailers.”

As an example, he points to the market for imported refrigerated semi-trailers that have already been banned from being used in food transportation in Europe — as per the EU law — after seven years of operation.

He notes: “Unfortunately these trailers are imported into the GCC, where they operate for another seven years.  All of us here in the GCC then consume food transported in such units, which are no longer fit for purpose.”

In response, Gorica established a factory in 2015 for the production of rigid refrigerated ‘reefer’ rigid truck bodies — under the Frigo brand — using equipment purchased from German reefer specialist Krone.

Another trailer and truck body veteran is Schmitz Cargobull, which this year celebrates 125 years since its establishment in Germany. Fabian Bahlmann, GM at Schmitz Cargobull Middle East, also points to a drive towards quality product, including in food logistics, noting: “We feel a demand towards innovation, reliability and safety. And that’s what we offer: reefer trailers with a unique chassis design and ‘Ferroplast’ thermo technology; curtainsider trailers that are easier to operate and safer on the road thanks to new load securing features; and our S.HD flatbed range of multifunctional heavy-duty trailers, which have a robust chassis design that involves the cold-forming, galvanizing and bolting of core parts.

“One thing that unites all of our trailers is their advanced safety: every Schmitz Cargobull comes equipped with electronic braking systems and anti-lock braking systems.”

Completing the line-up of top suppliers of trailers and truck bodies in the region is Al Shirawi Equipment Company (ASECO), which — established 40 years ago — was the first local manufacturer of trailers and truck bodies in the region (under the Atlas brand).