In the mid-1960s, four-wheel drive (4×4) vehicles, caravans and trailers weren’t as common as they are today. In fact, you probably would have had trouble finding an experienced mechanic to work on your vehicle, caravan or trailer. Today it is a different story. Every OEM automotive manufacturer has a number of 4×4 vehicles to choose from, caravans are aplenty, with some even having a double rear axle configuration to assist with the load and tow-ability. Modern day trailers are manufactured in many configurations according to purpose.
Burquip’s vision is to be a one-stop shop for all your trailer building requirements. The company currently supplies the market with a wide-range offering of trailer components, accessories and spares
Burquip’s Johannesburg Office Manager Gerard Barnard and Branch Manager Gerhard Lombard
Trailers are manufactured for the transport of goods, animals – game and domestic – such as horses, livestock, boats, luggage, off-road and many more special purpose configurations. These trailers are manufactured in various styles such as flat-bed, drawbar, dropside, tipper and box type to name but a few. If you can imagine it, you could probably have one manufactured.
Over and above these ‘small’ trailers I have mentioned there is a whole host of heavy-duty trailers that are a little bit more complicated to manufacture because of the heavy-duty conditions that they work under.
Burquip manufacture 1 000s of axles in a year
The company has five Goodway CNC lathes, supplied by Skok Machine Tools, in the machining department
Critical to all trailers are the axles. Remember it all rides on the trailer axles. When building your own utility trailer there are many elements that need to be taken into account. Elements such as suspension type, load capacity, mounting position, hub face distance and track width. These are just a few of the more practical elements. Others include whether you need to include brakes because the load is over 750kg and other regulatory rules.
The GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of the trailer starts with the axle rating. By law all axles must have a tag specifying the maximum load it can carry. You can upgrade the axle to a heavier load carrying capacity – within the capability of the trailer – and if you go more than 750kg you will have to fit an axle that has brakes. This would also require a new overrun hitch, or coupler as it is more commonly known, to operate the trailer brakes. Once this has been done you will need to re-roadworthy the trailer, specifying an upgrade in GVM and register the trailer at your local authority. Generally speaking, it is good practice to look for trailer axles with more capacity than you need.
If you drill down even more you can look at the type of suspension to accompany your trailers axle – are you going to go with leaf springs, coil springs, torsion, rubber compression, axle-less, trailing arm or walking beam. There are many different types of suspension systems, but just a few that are really common. The leaf spring and torsion types are the most common.
Spindles manufactured on the CNC machines
Roughing, final machining, threading and drilling are some of the operations done on the trailer axles
South Africans love to go on leisure excursions (camping and caravanning) at unusual locations and settings. Generally, these excursions will involve off-road travelling. Their 4×4 vehicle has been adapted and of course their trailer or caravan has to be as well. One of the main elements to upgrade is the axle.
Taking you on a smooth, comfortable and safe ride with your trailer or caravan is Burquip, a Cape Town-headquartered company that has its manufacturing plant in Jet Park, Gauteng. It’s not a heavy hauling, heavy fabricating manufacturing plant – the maximum load capacity axle that the company manufactures is a six ton low-speed version that is usually used on a trailer carrying livestock or game.
Burquip has been a leading manufacturer, importer and distributor of trailer axles and related components throughout the Sub-Saharan Africa market for over 35 years. They cater for every need from high-speed trailers to heavy-duty agricultural trailers and everything in between.
Burquip makes use of a robotic welding system in the sub-assembly department
The assembly department
Going all the way back to 1985, manufacturing was originally located in Cape Town but moved to the Johannesburg area in 2003. It was located in Sebenza, Gauteng initially but demand and growth forced the company to move to its current 2 400m² factory over 10 years ago. At first the factory housed manufacturing, assembly, storage and sales but space restrictions soon mandated the company to add a further 4 500m² under-roof store as well as an adjoining sales branch.
Speaking to the Office Manager, Gerard Barnard, he had the following to say: “I am responsible for the manufacturing side of the business and need to balance and control the ongoing pressure that manufacturing and assembly is constantly under. This is one reason why we are continually looking at how we can improve our efficiencies. Currently we are going through one of those periods. For example, the hub assembly area is doubling in size and all the equipment we use in this department is being refurbished and upgraded.”
“In addition to running a full manufacturing facility, we also import a number of components to supplement our manufacturing line. All of our Goodway CNC lathes and an Argo CNC mill are working full time, day and night. The Goodway machines have been supplied by Skok Machine Tools and we are using Mastercam as our machining programme.”
Completed trailer axles
Bearings and grease coming together in the hub assembly department
“Over and above our standard range of axles, we are also able to design and manufacture any special or custom-made requests. This all forms part of our value offering to our customers. The CNC machines are therefore machining a number of different components at any one time.”
“These include spindles and stubs for our rubbaride axles. There are several ways you can use rubber for suspension yet still achieve load sharing. One of the desires for using a rubber suspension is that it allows the axles to share the load when the road is not flat and level while offering vibration damping.”
A new press brake with a bending force of 100 tons and a bending width of 3 000mm will work alongside a new Bodor fiber laser that Burquip has recently purchased
Burquip have recently invested in a new Bodor fiber laser system that has been installed at its Jet Park factory. The fiber laser that Burquip purchased, supplied by WD Hearn, has a bed size of 4 000mm by 2 000mm. The company plans to manufacture a whole host of accessories for trailers in future
“All of our hubs and drums that we use on our axles, as well as the braking systems, are German engineered and are of the best quality you will find anywhere in the world. With the scale of our operation and the amount of product that we are turning over we cannot afford to damage our reputation. It is never ideal to import but if we can’t find the right local supplier then we do not have much of a choice. This is not to say that we have given up looking locally.”
“The steel bar is sourced locally from Macsteel. We then do all the necessary machining before they go to the assembly department. There is a considerable amount of technology and safety critical criteria that we have to take into account during our manufacturing and assembly operations. This includes all the sub-components and sub-assembly. You are probably looking at a minimum of 20 components that make up an axle.”
“A big plus in our sub-assembly department was the introduction of a robotic welding system that is now an integral part of our workforce and has provided many safety and productivity benefits to our manufacturing facility. When you rely heavily on the accuracy and reliability of your machinery for your finished product, you want to be 100% confident in the system solution implemented. Not only can the product quality have a significant boost but the increased productivity allows for additional output.”
The Goodway lathes in the CNC machining department
Burquip can also manufacture specials and custom-made axles
“We have three bandsaws that are dedicated to cutting non-standard lengths to accommodate the number of special requests we get. We have a design department in Cape Town that uses SolidWorks to design these customised axles. The variations include capacity of the axle and various customised features that are specified by customers. We can produce axles that are customised to fit into almost any application. On the machining side we use Mastercam.”
New equipment – new products
Burquip have recently invested in a new Bodor fiber laser system and a new press brake that have both been installed at its Jet Park factory.
“The fiber laser that we purchased, supplied by WD Hearn, has a bed size of 4 000mm by 2 000mm. The press brake will work alongside the laser. It has a bending force of 100 tons and a bending width of 3 000mm.”
“To accommodate our material handling in this new department we have also had to rearrange our crane system. It will not help if you have a forklift crashing into the bed of the laser.”
“We have never had these types of metal processing machines before. They might not be directly involved with the manufacture of components for trailer axles but there are a whole host of accessories for trailers that we will be manufacturing and selling in future. It is early days but the plans are now well advanced.”
“We are looking at mudguards, light boxes, toggle latches, drop side hinges, chevron plates, licence disk holders, strikers, spring bolts, brackets, plates and number of other trailer accessories. All of these require sheet metal to be cut and bent. Of course, we will look at other accessories as well.”
All of the hubs and drums that Burquip use on their axles, as well as the braking systems, are German engineered
Burquip also manufacture customised axles. The variations include capacity of the axle and various customised features that are specified by customers. They can produce axles that are customised to fit into almost any application
“We have been in the process of designing an extensive range of rolling chassis that have been specifically designed and engineered to withstand harsh South African conditions. The range comprises of a wide variety of standard designs available to suit almost any industrial trailer requirement.”
Burquip believe the rolling chassis will provide numerous advantages to trailer builders and manufacturers such as:
• Limiting the need for additional manufacturing machinery required reducing labour costs
• A decrease in offcut and wasted material further reducing costs
• Quick reaction time to satisfy their customer requirements
• The Chassis easily bolts together reducing turnaround time
“For those trailer builders and OEMs seeking a custom solution, Burquip can easily and quickly supply designs to suit customer requirements.”
“Part of Burquip’s vision is to be a one-stop shop for all your trailer building requirements. We currently supply the market with a wide-range of trailer components, accessories and spares.”
“Products from leading European manufacturers who are represented on an agency basis supplement our wide range of manufactured products.”
Currently Burquip employs over 100 staff in total, which includes the head office in Cape Town and sales offices in Cape Town, Pinetown, Pretoria and Johannesburg. The company also has distributors across Southern Africa.
For further details contact Burquip on TEL: 021 907 1900 or visit www.burquip.co.za