When you are in the business of manufacturing and selling products that require accuracy you need design, process planning, component manufacturing and supplied materials to all come together in assembly and work. There is no better measurement of the success of a manufacturing operation than the assembly of the various components that go together to make a product. Whether the product is an automobile or a pocketknife, how the components fit determines product performance.
This could be said about most manufacturing companies but when your product lines are vehicle speed measurement and related equipment, as well as rifle and barrel manufacturing, the word accurate is synonymous with the products.
The product mix at Truvelo Manufacturers could not be more diverse, but both have high tolerance and precision as a common denominator.
One of the many rifles that Truvelo Manufacturers’ Armoury Division manufactures. This one is part of the Truvelo ‘Counter Measure Sniper’ (CMS) series that was developed for urban type warfare at a shorter range
Truvelo Manufacturers (Pty) Ltd was founded in 1966 by FJ (Franz Josef) Gebert when he established the need for accurate vehicle speed measurements in the traffic law enforcement field. He patented the use of piezo sensor cables to accurately detect the passage of a vehicle’s wheels. This result was the first accurate and reliable vehicle speed measurement. Hence the company name “Truvelo”, or true-velocity.
Truvelo Manufacturers’ Armoury Division was established in 1994 when it entered into the field of rifle and barrel manufacturing. The company’s unique manufacturing process resulted in the development of a combination of a Truvelo barrel range with sophisticated precision sniper rifle technology. The proud result of this combination is Truvelo’s range of highly accurate, long-range rifles with calibres ranging from 7,62 x 51 to 20 x 110 Hispano.
There are clearly opportunities for growth in these markets. Indeed when I visited Truvelo Manufacturing in Midrand, Gauteng it looked like the whole of the Limpopo traffic law enforcement department was there. Thankfully they were not interested in me but it did put you on edge.
Once inside the company it was all abuzz with excitement and last minute planning for the company’s participation at HuntEx2016, an annual exhibition held at Gallagher Convention Centre showcasing the latest in hunting, sports, tactical and defensive firearms, ammunition, gear and related accessories and equipment.
Truvelo’s CEO Ralf Gebert
Truvelo Manufacturers’ Armoury Division was established in 1994 when it entered into the field of rifle and barrel manufacturing
There was much anticipation as Truvelo Armoury Division were due to launch a new addition to the company’s CMS Rifle Range, the Truvelo CMS 6.5 x 47. Truvelo says the new lightweight and compact rifle weighs six kilograms (including telescope and magazine), with an overall length of 1180mm, and will achieve sub MOA (minute of angle) results, at distances up to 500 metres. The effective range is 1200 metres, depending on ammunition.
So when I say this company has accuracy in its blood I am not wrong.
Alexa Gerrard, Marketing Manager at Truvelo, says that the rifle has been built primarily for the civilian sport shooting market, but it can be used in a military context as well as it has been developed and manufactured according to military standards.
Truvelo’s CEO is Ralf Gebert. He is also the son of the founder of the company and holds an Electronic Engineering degree from the University of Pretoria. He took over the family business from his father who sadly passed away a few years ago.
“My parents arrived in South Africa in 1958 with very little. Their long hours of hard work were an example for all of us siblings. They started working from home and using the garage for extra space. I especially benefitted from the hardship and perseverance and being satisfied with very little. From early on in my childhood I was always at the company and grew up with it. Nobody can replace this experience and its associated learning curve,” said Gebert.
“The company started operating from our home in Lyttelton just outside Pretoria. In 1979, we acquired this site in Midrand and the business moved to it. It was a functional building for what the company needed, but as the company expanded so too did the demand for operating and manufacturing space grow.”
Components that will be machined to specification
Most of the components that Truvelo manufacturers are put through the vibrating surface finishing machine that uses ceramic media to deburr components
“We occupy a 11500m² site so there was plenty of room for expansion. We have just recently completed our renovations and expansions and now have 3600m² under roof available to us. The building now includes a modern factory, laboratory, training and testing facilities, assembly areas for the respective divisions and, what could be unique in South Africa, a 70 metre underground shooting range.”
Lights, camera, action
“As we have said, Truvelo Manufacturers’ main function is to design, develop, manufacture, install, service and market our range of traffic related equipment for traffic law enforcement and vehicle data gathering. Our products are manufactured mainly for police/traffic departments, local and state/governments’ law enforcement agencies, civil engineers and road construction agencies,” said Gebert.
“The company’s products were built on the characteristics of speed, accuracy and precision. The traffic related products have evolved over the years and today incorporate aspects of the modern technology that is available to us. You will be surprised to see the tools that are now available to authorities to monitor and collect information. If used correctly, without any sway or persuasion, we would have much safer roads to travel on.”
“They are not well liked products in terms of motorists who would rather dodge fines when committing a road travel related offence, but are very necessary to keep law and order.”
The new Victor Vturn-X200 five-axis multitasking turning centre allows the company to perform under pressure, running bolt carrier components one day, and chamber components the next. The machine comes with a sub spindle instead of a tailstock and the upper turret is equipped with BT40 tooling, 26kW motor and live tooling for added milling operations as well as a bigger bore. The chuck size was increased to 10 inches and the XZ travels are 600 x 1100mm
Various rifle components
“We are constantly challenged and measured against international standards and competitiveness with these products. We have conquered this by developing our own designs and by employing highly skilled engineers that have qualifications in mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as mechatronics. The products do not infringe on other patents. In fact we have over 50 of our own patents.”
“We are also proud to say that you will find our products being used by authorities worldwide. However, we see great potential in Africa in the future and even established the company Truvelo Africa in 2014. It is 51% black-owned and concentrates on the South African and African markets.”
Equipment manufactured in this division is available for hand-held, mobile and fixed site applications. The range covers digital speed and red-light cameras, digital mobile/portable speed cameras, and hand-held devices.
Truvelo Manufacturers’ Armoury Division
“The armoury division was formed as a result of my father’s passion for firearms which was also his hobby. This division has now become an integral part of the company accounting for about 50% of turnover with 90% of product being exported.”
“Our weaponry is utilised by military agencies, law enforcement departments, gunsmiths, hunters and shooters and enthusiasts of all types.”
“Although the company has a total staff compliment of 60, this division currently employs a small select team of engineers and machinists, including four gunsmiths.”
The new Victor Vturn-X200 five-axis multitasking turning centre allows the company to perform more operations in one setup, thus eliminating the possibility of the component going out of spec
Truvelo Manufacturers’ Armoury Division also manufactures its own rifle magazines
“We operate in an area of the market where people who buy our products like guns and rifles, like to know how they’re made, where they’re made and of what they’re made. They want to know exactly where the parts for any given product are manufactured and assembled. Also, customers in this industry want a product that will fire 100 000 rounds and at the same time for it to look like a highly polished, precision piece of jewellery.”
“Further, we understand that to manufacture for the firearms industry, you have to have special permits and abide by international laws. This task virtually creates a whole admin division on its own.”
“Generally speaking, a manufacturer in this area is an OEM. All components for the product, and this can be over 50 per product, are manufactured in-house except for components such as springs. The coating of the products is also outsourced, as are the materials that we use. All of our materials are imported as they are not made locally.”
“We use various steels, depending on the component, and the frames are made of aluminium. The most important features of these precision weapons are that they have to be lightweight, adjustable and accurate.”
“The trend in the industry has moved towards where you have component manufacturers, assemblers, distributors and customers. In the past, gun manufacturers were much more vertically integrated, in that they would manufacture, assemble and distribute all under one name and all in one place.”
“We are part of this old school thinking and don’t intend to change it in the near future.”
The success of Truvelo Manufacturers’ Armoury Division has been the manufacturing of highly accurate barrels, which led to the development of a combination of their own barrel range and sophisticated precision sniper rifle technology
More rifle components that have been machined
“What we have moved away from though is customisation. With us developing our own products, most of which have their own patents for design and components used, we are now able to focus on batch manufacturing. The benefit of this is that it reduces the variances in component manufacture.”
New Victor Vturn-X200 five-axis multitasking turning centre
“The Victor Vturn-X200 allows us to perform under pressure, running bolt carrier components one day, and chamber components the next. The machine is extremely versatile because we have got Victor Taichung to manufacture it to our specifications so as to make it the perfect machine for our requirements. The reason is that we wanted to have full multitasking capabilities at our disposal, while also having the basic capabilities when using the lower turret, we needed lots of power on the upper turret and the rigidity to hold tight tolerances.”
“The machine comes with a sub spindle instead of a tailstock and the upper turret is equipped with BT40 tooling, 26kW motor and live tooling for added milling operations as well as a bigger bore. The chuck size was increased to 10 inches and the XZ travels are 600 x 1100mm.”
“So, not only do we use the left spindle, but we also pass the component off to the right spindle to get the component in a single hold, and use the upper and lower turrets to do simultaneous multitasking machining to get our cycle time as low as possible when we manufacture components.”
“With the high tolerances that are required of us when machining, this machine now allows us to carry out more operations in one setup, thus eliminating the possibility of the component going out of spec.”
Rifles in the assembly department
Truvelo’s weaponry is utilised by military agencies, law enforcement departments, gunsmiths, hunters and shooters and enthusiasts of all types
“A lot of companies are running components with relational tolerances from the milling operations to the turning operations. Being able to do that in a single platform by passing the component from the left spindle to the right spindle and having the capability to mill in either turret via the B axis, we’re able to maintain our tolerances and are capable of doing more challenging components than we were able to do in the past.”
Assembly and testing
“As we have said, how the components fit when manufacturing rifles, determines the product performance. This aspect is enhanced in our products and therefore assembly is a critical operation in the process. Most components have to go through crack testing before assembly and once assembled, the final product is taken to our underground shooting range where the final test of accuracy is carried out.”
“However, the success of this division has been the manufacturing of highly accurate barrels, which led to the development of a combination of our own barrel range and sophisticated precision sniper rifle technology.”
The Truvelo ‘Counter Measure Sniper’ (CMS) series was developed for urban type warfare at a shorter range. The rifles are compact and allow for easy maneuverability. The stock is foldable and the rifle lighter, which makes it easier to carry in confined areas.
Truvelo currently fields AMR (anti-material rifles) in four calibres, namely the 12,7x99mm, the 14,5x114mm, the 20x82mm and the 20×110 Hispano. In addition to this, the Truvelo APR (anti-personnel rifle) series is available in 7,62×51 Nato and .338 Lapua.
For further details contact Truvelo Manufacturing on TEL: 011 314 1406 or visit www.truvelo.co.za