ARTSA chairman Dr Peter Hart has officially opened the 2012 International Truck, Trailer and Equipment Conference (ITTEC). Held at the Life Saving Victoria Conference Centre in Port Melbourne, the Conference’s main focus is discussing the future of the global heavy vehicle industry by evaluating market conditions, regulatory changes, customer expectations, road safety improvements, new technologies and productivity opportunities, manpower needs, as well as chain of responsibility issues.
On the opening day, Jack Gisinger, President of SAF-Holland USA, did not only give an overview on the current status of the European, Chinese, and Brazilian market, but also revealed the main trends that will influence the global trailer scene in 2012.
According to Gisinger, flexibility will be the key to success in the coming season, as the customisation of transport equipment will remain a major trend. In addition, new technology to improve weight reduction, overall performance, sustainability and corrosion protection will be at the centre of attention.
Especially China and Brazil are likely to adapt high technology in the near future, although the cost of innovation and a lacking infrastructure will slow down the shift, according to Gisinger. “You have to take into account that developing markets such as Brazil are not yet used to life cycle cost analyses, which will be a roadblock in the transition process.
“But even in the US, the change to high technology will be slow,” he added. “For instance, disc brakes are still considered heavy and expensive at the moment, and people are comfortable using drum brakes.”
BPW’s Alfred Unger, meanwhile, presented a detailed analysis of the European transport market, where production volume has almost reached the same level as 2005. And, as the road transport task is estimated to grow by 44 per cent until 2030, the market is likely to bounce back to 330,000 trailers by 2016, according to Unger.
Unger also outlined the concept of oversized trailers, which are currently being tested across Europe, and presented BPW’s solution to retain a legal turning circle for high productivity vehicles – including a dolly with two command-steered single tyre axles.
On day two, Gianpietro Mascialino, CEO of Italian tow coupling specialist, V.Orlandi, revealed how he has steered the company into not only holding its own in the tough European market, but also into becoming a global force in the trailing equipment market since he took the reins in his mid-20s.
“Australia is our most important market outside Europe,” he said. “We appreciate the support we receive here and love the country’s openness to try something new. In fact, our local clientele has actively helped us develop a product that is perfectly suited for the country’s harsh road network.”
According to Mascialino, the key to succeed in today’s tough business environment is flexibility. “As a family company with a solid financial background, we can react to changing market needs in an instant, and our R&D department is well prepared for a spontaneous change of plans as well. In addition, our machines work 24 hours a day and produce on a just-in-time basis, which makes us even more flexible than the competition,” he said.
“Since the last crisis, our production has shifted to produce a larger variety of products at lower quantities to make up for the decline in large-scale orders,” he added. “But we have understood that you can only achieve your goals by constantly investing in R&D and employing the latest technology, and that’s what we keep doing despite economical turmoil.”