Q: The European trailer industry has gone through an especially eventful period since the last IAA Show, with a distinct spike in M&A activity, intense debates about regulatory changes and political volatility across the Eurozone. How has all that movement affected you as a business?
A: No business is exempt to economics and the volatility of politics, but more than most, we consider ourselves well prepared with contingency strategies and anticipatory programs for most foreseeable eventualities. For us, this is an exciting period of growth and change to our company, particularly in our prioritisation of R&D resources towards European and international projects. Our focus now incorporates our export customers’ requirements, international design characteristics and incorporating regional nuances into our current product portfolio. This has opened whole new growth opportunities, and with more than 500 trailers sold to our international customers this year alone, we are looking forward to 2019.
Q: SDC Trailers has always had one of the strongest IAA presences among UK-based OEMs. What kind of equipment will you present in 2018?
A: We will be presenting three trailers this year that reflect a sample of the broad spectrum of innovative equipment we bring to the table. The first is a four-axle Extendable Platform model with an option to fit a 500mm floating deck to support the load when open. The four axles allow for greater payload and stability, and can extend out to 21.2m. The headboard is ENXL approved and has been fitted with rear steer and dual lift axles to reduce tyre wear. We have had great success in international markets with this product in various wheelbases and axle configurations. The second unit is a customised Heavy Duty Stepframe Platform model with a tri-deck rear steering. The Stepframe Platform has been designed with a low rear deck to carry high loads and a multi-use Laxo socket system that can host various containers from 10ft to 40ft. It also has a removable drop side system fitted, which increases its flexibility. The final trailer that will be on display is our newly improved SDC GRP Boxvan model, which was recently redesigned after lengthy discussions with different stakeholders in the industry. It uses the latest bonding technology in construction to improve the aesthetics, durability and load volume. We managed to extend the longevity of this trailer by opting for a galvanised rear frame and rear floor cross member, which prevent corrosion and help maintain higher residual value. It is now suitable for 34 euro pallet operations and is ENXL approved. There are also bespoke options available for shorter versions of the GRP Boxvan with steering axles for the rapidly growing urban transport trend in mainland Europe.
Q: In line with that, which industry trends are currently affecting your business the most, and which trends do you think will set the tone for this year’s event?
A: SDC Trailers is currently increasing its market share in European markets due to an interesting industry trend, that is the standardisation of trailer design – and with it the growing rigidity of an inflexible product offering. Of course these solutions have a significant place in the market, and SDC Trailers endeavour to offer all solutions, but we consider ourselves at the forefront of customised solutions that cater to customers’ requirements rather than cost cutting manufacturing. That’s why we will continue to promote our home-grown reputation for “longer life” trailers that can outperform, outlast and deliver a far greater return on investment than many mass-produced products being offered in today’s markets. Particularly in our export markets, we think SDC Trailers will be able to “buck the trend” of short-life products as we promote our virtues of excellently engineered trailers that are innovative, durable and robust.
Q: What is your view on megatrends like electrification? Are they overrated or will they have an effect on trailer design in the near future?
A: I believe that any idea and design has merit within the marketplace if it can offer the customer something new and exciting, regardless if it’s part of a megatrend or not. At SDC Trailers we champion innovation and design, and will continue to invest in new and exciting ideas. Regarding electrification, we believe this technology is not the near future, but very relevant today as our Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) model demonstrates. We also respect our competitors’ endeavour to experiment with potentially trendsetting products, as this drives the industry forward and ultimately benefits the customers. Today’s overrated trends often turn out to be tomorrow’s future, so we respect everyone’s appetite to try something new.
Q: With SDC expanding across Europe, where do you see your competitive advantage going into the 2018 IAA?
A: SDC Trailer’s greatest strength is robust, unyielding, longer-life trailer design. We believe there is a growing gap in the marketplace for our products, particularly within Europe. Our strategy is to target key markets by partnering with established local industry specialists in a move to promote sustainable and incremental growth for the SDC Trailers product portfolio within these regions.