Trailer Magazine

Colour, speed and consistency on a tray

Colour, speed and consistency on a tray

By working closely with vehicle OEMs and suppliers, including PPG, Triple M Truck Bodies has become the market leader for tray bodies featuring looks as well as functionality.

Taking a look at the VFACTS national vehicle sales figures shows that Australians have a love affair with the ute. Toyota’s HiLux and Ford’s Ranger are currently fighting it out for overall vehicle sales supremacy, while other ute nameplates can often be found among the top sellers. Interestingly, the first thing many ute purchasers do is fit a sturdy and practice tray body and this is where Triple M Truck Bodies has carved out a healthy niche in the market.

After being established in 1967, the company first ventured into the aluminium tray body market in the early ‘70s, before adding steel tray bodies to its portfolio in the late ‘80s. Since then, Triple M Truck Bodies has racked up over half a million tray bodies sold. One of the keys to this impressive statistic is the strong relationships the company has created with vehicle OEMs, according to Design & Development Manager, Michael Fletcher.

“We currently have contracts to supply 90 per cent of the ute OEMs in Australia,” he says. “Since we started with Mazda back in the late ‘90s, every OEM that has come onboard with us we have retained, unless they have left the market. Typically, an OEM will come to us about 18 months to two years before a new model launch and we will go through a development process to create tray bodies for their customers to choose from. Today, around 85 per cent of our business is through OEMs. We believe this is a result of all the hard work that has gone into delivering excellent quality and service at the right price.”

Michael estimates that around 95 per cent of components are made in-house at its manufacturing facilities in Stapylton, in south east Queensland, including metal stamping, laser cutting, robotic welding, zinc plating and painting. Indeed, the growing ute market has seen a corresponding growth in painted steel tray bodies.

“Around 80 per cent of our steel tray bodies are painted and it’s all about appearance.” Michael says. “Nowadays, you can buy a ute with all the latest features, just like a car, and customers typically want the tray painted to exactly match the cab so they get a car like appearance. Part of our contracts with each of the OEMs is to have every colour formally approved by them. That makes our choice in paint supplier very important.”

Around two years ago, Triple M Truck Bodies put its paint supply contract out for tender. After a rigorous process, it chose PPG, which happens to be the world’s largest manufacturer of transportation coatings. Garry Bertie, PPG Business Development Manager Queensland, believes it was PPG’s ability to provide a complete package of products and services which cemented the partnership.

“PPG has strong links to virtually every vehicle OEM on the planet so we understand exactly what it takes to work with them,” Garry says.

“This includes independent testing to OEM specifications covering everything from colour and gloss to stone chipping and chemical resistance. As well as offering products that passed these stringent tests with flying colours, we were actually able to help Triple M Truck Bodies reduce production process time without compromising the excellent end result. One of the key PPG technologies Triple M takes advantage of is F4949 CT Productive Chassis Primer Binder.

“Since launching a couple of years ago, it has taken the market by storm because it’s ideally suited to modern production situations. Not only does it meet OEM specifications, it also has very good build, it can be applied in high productivity Wet-On-Wet mode and it’s fast curing – in as little as 20 minutes – for a fast turnaround on the production line.

“Not only that, it can be tinted a sympathetic colour to the topcoat which then helps achieve opacity more quickly, thus saving application time and material. And, should the topcoat be stone chipped, scratched, etc, it’s less obvious and there is underlying UV protection. It really does tick all the boxes.”

As the tender process progressed, PPG became the logical choice on so many levels according to Michael.

“As well as the ability to test to OEM standards, PPG’s pricing was competitive, as was the quality and appearance,” he says. “For me, one of the big things was that PPG manufactures in Australia. I was actually able to visit PPG’s Australian head office in Clayton, Melbourne and see where the products are made and tested. When you take into account all the vehicle OEMs we deal with, I believe we have now gone through the colour approval process for almost 250 different colours. That is a process where having PPG as a partner really pays off.”

(Main image: Triple M Design & Development Manager, Michael Fletcher, with a tray body fresh from the spray booth; second image: Triple M Truck Bodies specifies PPG for a striking blue finish.)

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