Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Tom Cullum
Refrigerated vehicle body and trailer manufacturer, Icecold Bodies has reacted to South Africa’s recent economic slowdown by overhauling its market strategy to better serve South Africa’s transport industry, becoming one of the major trend-setters within a highly competitive industry.
After recognising the need to compliment its manufacturing capabilities with value-add services, such as repair facilities and extended product warranties, Icecold Bodies increased its facility capacity by more than 50 percent in 2013; forming an integral part of a five-year expansion plan to future-proof the Company.
“The decision to transform the Company into a more respectable, reliable organisation that builds on personal relationships became evident when we listened to the voice of the customer. Customer interaction is essential for our brand and product development as this allows us to set new trends based on customer needs and demands,” said Icecold Bodies in a press release.
Two years later and this plan has been successful in creating new business partnerships, while reinforcing longstanding ones. The Company has come a long way in the industry since establishing in 1993, becoming a well-respected, proudly South African body and trailer manufacturer, with a renewed flexible and responsive business model and comprehensive product rang; comprising trailers, insulated bodies and rigid truck bodies that are all adaptable to customer needs.
Serving a growing demographic of customers in South Africa and Namibia, Icecold Bodies strives to be a one-stop shop provider of innovative products and value-add services including trailer and truck production, repair and finishing.
“Setting new trends in production and supply chain will allow us to become leaders in the field. However respect between likeminded manufacturers will benefit everyone; the pie is big enough and all can share in this multi-billion rand industry,” affirms Ettiene Tukker, GM of Icecold Bodies.
Optimum performance levels
As the number of middle-class South African’s continues to prosper, so does the demand for commodities and the need for convenient and efficient delivery systems for these goods, which is something that Icecold is keen to capitalise on.
Tukker highlighted: “The transport industry will continue to grow as living standards and demands increase. However, with the current government involvement and initiatives such as implementing refrigeration standards - and with full industry support - this will become an ever-changing process to deliver better manufacturing efficiencies.”
He added: “Thus, it became essential for us to ensure that our customers can remain competitive. Therefore, we are constantly adapting our designs and operations to suit new demands from the industry in order to ensure our customers run at optimum performance levels.”
Driven by its continuous improvement strategy to bolster its manufacturing capabilities in line with industry trends, the Company owns and operates two substantial facilities - a 13,000 square metre business and repair centre in Linbro Park, and a 60,000m2 facility in Heidelberg – both of which have plenty of room to expand at a moment’s notice.
“Manufacturers and operators are desperate for a modern, concise, clear and firm set of guidelines...so they can accurately plan their equipment designs and purchases.
“Our system approach allows us to implement ‘kaizen,’, lean and MRP initiatives throughout our operations, allowing for just-in- time, cost-effective and quality production and continuous in-line development through line balancing and product optimisation,” Tukker commented.
Attention to detail
Thanks to the increasing power of computerised technology, easier, faster and more efficient methologies to design and build trailers are arising. Along with many other South African operators, Icecold Bodies is integrating its local specialist employee skills with new technologies at various stages in the manufacturing process, in order to create a final product that has been thoroughly and strictly controlled according to SAVS specifications prior to it being delivered to the client as a ready to use product.
“The manufacturing process for all our products starts in the drawing office where the product is duly planned on paper by our team. The final drawing complete with the job card is then submitted to the factory so that the raw material can be ordered and subsequently start the manufacturing process,” the Company details.
Similarly, the use of the latest materials and components to construct the trailer also requires continuous market research to find out what materials are popular in vehicle refrigeration around the world, with attributes such as weight and durability considered.
Tukker concluded: “We are entering an exciting period where a handful of trailer manufacturers are likely to set new boundaries in design and innovation, in response to the recent tide of European imports.
“All that is needed then is strong guidance and support from South Africa’s transport and road authorities so that we can align with both the regulations required, and ensure we continue to grow our market share by listening to the ‘voice of the customer’ and incorporate a value-add after-sales service into our business offering.”