Leisure and lifestyle manufacturer Roadque upgrades with Ermaksan fiber laser

What started out in 1996 as a small distributor of automotive components has today grown into a proudly South African business and factory that manufactures trailer, caravan and 4×4 components, and much more.

South Africa is famous for its sunshine, even in winter, which has allowed South Africans to live the great outdoors. Equally, we love the outdoor life and we as South Africans take advantage of the natural beauty, an aspect that the country is renowned for and one that attracts millions of international tourists. It does help that South Africa is also one of the top adventure destinations in the world. Over and above the superb weather the country boasts a great selection of activities and vacations in a variety of geographically significant locations including the sea, deserts, forests and mountains, not to mention the diversity of animal, bird and plant life.

The rise in the outdoor leisure industry does not abate. Tents, caravans, trailers, tow vehicles and motorhomes are in high demand and need to be kitted out with equipment that will make the outdoor activity a comfortable and pleasant experience.

Roadque have recently purchased an Ermaksan Fibermak Momentum Gen-3 fiber laser. The fiber laser was supplied by F&H Machine Tools

This has also presented opportunities for a number of South African companies to manufacture and supply products that help to promote a healthier, more pleasant and enjoyable way of living. With this lifestyle beckoning at our doorstep the demand for more products, gizmos and gadgets grew, in some cases aided by wanting to keep up with the Joneses next door. Destinations and outdoor activities have also grown, fuelling more demand for outdoor related equipment.

Roadque, based in Silverton, Pretoria, is one such manufacturing company that has not missed the chance to be part of the ever-growing market. The company began life as a distributor of Al-ko (then Trailco) trailer products.

Roadque’s Managing Director Francois Coetzee was a partner in a law firm at the time and this was a sideline business. Little did Coetzee know that the business would grow into a major manufacturer of outdoor and lifestyle products and components, have a large showroom and retail outlet with a café/restaurant attached to the facility.

Components that were cut on the Ermaksan Fibermak Momentum Gen-3 fiber laser

Around the year 2000, Coetzee saw a gap in the market for new components in the trailer and caravan markets, and he started importing products from China and elsewhere around the world. Business boomed, and he soon realised that he could actually manufacture many of the products locally, instead of importing them.

“To source product I made many trips to all areas of China. Through this experience I not only got to know China very well but also gained plenty of knowledge on how the products were manufactured, having visited many of my suppliers factories.”

Buy South African
“I am a South African full stop and it is my conviction to support local wherever I can. Besides importing product from China can tie up a huge amount of money because you have to import container loads of product or components, far in excess that is needed in the short term for the local market. This in turn would result in extra storage space requirements, product on the floor for many months and very little recourse if the product was not what you ordered or the product was faulty.”

“This convinced me to manufacture locally. I believe in supporting the South African market and will buy all the components I use in my products that I don’t manufacture from the local industry. For example I will get certain of my castings from Besaans foundry in Pretoria West and others from Dycer Foundry, which is around the corner from me. They have come to the party with pricing. It may not be as cheap as buying from China but not having money tied up in stock more than compensates.”

Roadque are able to fabricate 50% more of these boxes from a sheet of metal for a client because of the new Ermaksan Fibermak Momentum Gen-3 fiber laser and Lantek Expert Cut, the CAD / CAM system specially designed to automate the programming of sheet metal cutting

“If more companies support local industry it will create the possibility that these local companies will employ more staff, thus alleviating many of the social ills that have gone wrong with our country over the last 10 years. Besides more South Africans will have disposable income to go camping and then buy my products. This will also lead to me employing more staff.”

“If everybody thought more local, South Africa would be a better place.”

Roadque’s first venture into manufacturing began in 2001 when Coetzee purchased a press brake and he started producing components for trailers and caravans. Coetzee was then able to acquire 30 Caxton presses – from 5 ton to 200 ton – that were destined to end up at a scrap dealer. Through perseverance Coetzee got most of these machines reconditioned and producing components for him. They are still all very much in working condition on the production floor.

Roadque have a Safan E-Brake press brake and a Euromac MTX Flex 6 punching machine, both purchased from CML Machine Tools, as well as an MVD press brake on the shopfloor

Through the years Roadque has added other equipment and today the company has five CNC lathes, two Wire EDM machines, a Safan and MVD press brake, a Flow waterjet cutter, a guillotine, as well as some conventional machines and welding equipment.

“My business is unique in that we have the manufacturing side that is supplying a number of our own products to the retail shop. This can be anything from braked and unbraked axles, couplers, rims, to jockey wheels and lifting legs, winches, bearings and other components such as hubs, spring bolts, dropside and long-leaf hinges.”

“But at the same time the retail shop will have many other products on sale that are related to the outdoor and leisure lifestyle market, which we do not manufacture but outsource. This could be anything from chevrons, mudguards, light brackets, license disc holders, LED lights to cooking utensils and pots to refrigerators and braais.”

“On top of this you can order a custom axle, for example, and we will make it to your specifications.”

A view of a section of the machine shop where the Haas TL-1 CNC toolroom lathe is housed

“We are also proud to say that 90% of our products that we sell in the shop are now manufactured locally by ourselves or a supplier. We have over 100 of our own products in the shop. Unfortunately there are some products we still cannot get locally and have to import.”

However, going forward Roadque aims to produce everything that is needed to build a trailer or caravan, as well as other components that are not available in the usual outdoor shops.

Ermaksan Fibermak Momentum Gen-3 fiber laser
To do this Coetzee has had to start investing in new equipment and this he has done by purchasing an Ermaksan Fibermak Momentum Gen-3 fiber laser.

“We have had a Bystronic CO2 laser on the floor for seven years. It was already second hand when we purchased it and it has served our needs now.”

“For the type of metal that we cut, not more than 6mm of mild steel, aluminium and stainless steel, the Ermaksan Fibermak is perfect for us. The laser resonator is IPG, the cutting head is Precitec and the CNC controls are Beckhoff. All of these companies are well-known German manufacturers and that satisfied our doubt over buying a machine from Turkey.”

The Ermaksan Fibermak Momentum Gen-3 fiber laser has a bed size of 3 000mm x 1 500mm and a 3kW power source and was supplied by F&H Machine Tools. The machine has been supplied with Lantek Expert Cut, the CAD / CAM system specially designed to automate the programming of sheet metal cutting.

Another recent purchase added to the machining side is a Haas TL-1 CNC toolroom lathe. Roadque manufactures most of its own dies and moulds.

Roadque has five CNC lathes in the machine shop including a Victor Vturn-26 horizontal CNC lathe

In the last year Roadque has also purchased an additional building to house a storage and display area for their products, an outdoor equipment retail store and a café/restaurant.

The storage and retail shop were previously housed in the manufacturing building. With this move up the road to a more visual building to passing trade, it has freed up more space for manufacturing and the new equipment. This area now has 2 200m under roof.

As the Roadque premises grow, so does the range of products that they manufacture. One of the latest components to hit their shelves is a trailer/caravan tough coupler, specifically designed for the rugged South African outdoors. Other new outdoor accessories include a bike rack, a chevron board kit and some mean Land Cruiser mods.

For further information contact Roadque on TEL: 012 804 1967 or visit www.roadque.co.za