Trailer Magazine

Serious about steel

  • From the August 2018 issue.
Serious about steel

As a manufacturer of durable heavy haulage and general transport trailers that are designed to withstand and outlast, The Drake Group knows that only the strongest steels will do. To help ensure the longevity of its equipment, the trailer builder has developed a solid partnership with steel manufacturer, SSAB.

When it comes to sourcing its steel, the Drake Group doesn’t leave it to chance. The company is very serious when it comes to the quality of steel used to manufacture its trailer range, so much so that it has a developed a formal policy on it. “All of our steel has to come from a verified source. That costs us more but makes for a better end product,” reveals Khali Lake, Drake Group General Manager. “SSAB is one of our biggest suppliers, so the company is a key part of what we do.”

The Drake Group is comprised of Drake Trailers, O’Phee Trailers and Drake Collectibles. Established 60 years ago, Drake Trailers is an innovator in the field of heavy haulage and low loaders; manufacturing a broad range of widening and fixed width trailers, mine site trailers, steerable modular trailers, telescopic trailers and more.

Drake Trailers prides itself on manufacturing strong and robust trailers that are built to tackle the toughest of Australian conditions. As Khali confirms, the business now relies on SSAB for the vast majority of its steel needs.
Since he joined the business six years ago, Khali says there has been a steady increase in the amount of SSAB steels used within the Drake Trailers and O’Phee Trailers brands. The two key product brands used by the trailer OEM are Strenx performance steel and Hardox wear plate.

Strenx performance steel has been rebranded from the previous SSAB brands – Domex, Optim and Weldox; the latter of which has been used by Drake Trailers for several years.

Strenx is designed for applications that rely on structural strength and weight savings. For the transport industry, that equates to lower tare weights and higher payloads without comprising on structural integrity.

Drake Trailers now uses around 120 tonnes of steel each month to produce its range of trailers, most of which is Strenx, which is used extensively in the construction of the company’s low loaders and specialty transport equipment. It features predominantly in the construction of the trailers’ frames, cross members and decks.

When it comes to wear plate, Hardox is the only brand that enters the Drake Trailers production facility, with the 8mm and 10mm options being the most commonly used. “It’s the only wear plate we use. Hardox as a wear plate has become a bit like a Drake – people request it by name. Hardox is often used in tipper bodies, so customers request it on the deck and ramps of their trailers if they are running volatile equipment on the trailer’s decks,” says Khali.

“Customers carrying earthmoving equipment with steel tracks, demolition equipment like compactors or anything with a metal track that needs to go up and down the ramps often request Hardox, as these kinds of equipment can be quite damaging to the trailer.”

Hardox is also used extensively under the O’Phee Trailers brand as well, where it sometimes features on the ramps and decks of its  trailers due to its high-wearing properties.

When compared to other varieties of steel, Khali says Hardox has a better surface hardness and is well known for its strength. “The feedback is always good. Most customers know the product well and know it’s good, especially our earthmoving customers who typically have tippers that are built with Hardox,” says Khali.  

As well as the quality of product, Khali says the company also values the high levels of support offered by SSAB. “Since switching to SSAB years ago, the levels of technical support have been the best we’ve seen. It is probably the best technical department for a steel manufacturer we’ve ever come across. The amount of support SSAB has for its customers in Australia is substantial. SSAB is an excellent company to deal with, and that comes down to its people. The technical department is very good, and so is the sales department.”

Given the high quantities of steel used by Drake Trailers, Khali adds that the business now views the relationship with SSAB as a partnership and he says he rates the company very highly. “SSAB is really committed to the Australian market and has invested in a lot of resources here. It is a good supplier with a great product, and the product is always exactly to specification – the size, the thickness and the flatness is always spot on.”

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