C&L, Cranes & Lifting, Features

TRT: In for the long haul

TRT recently launched the TIDD PC28 pick and carry crane throughout Australia and New Zealand is a key development in the company’s quest for continued growth and long-term commitment to industry. Cranes and Lifting reports.

TRT is very much a family owned business. Eighty-eight year old Dave Carden, is the founder of the company and remains very much involved in the business on a day to day business. He owns the business equally with sons Bruce, Manufacturing Director, and Robert, Engineering Director.

TRT Chief Operating Officer, Lawrence Baker and Country Manager, Stephen Dance, discussed the recent history of the company, its philosophy towards manufacturing and the short and medium-term plans and objectives for the company’s continued growth.

“Our head office is in Hamilton New Zealand which is home for our design, engineering and manufacturing,” said Baker. “We’re proud to say we are a little different to other manufacturers in that we have brought almost everything in house. Approximately 98 per cent of everything we manufacture is done on site by our team of 180 people based at our Hamilton facility, giving TRT full control of both quality and output.”

The company’s core businesses include the design and manufacture of purpose-built heavy trailers, the TIDD pick and carry crane. Within this manufacturing capability, they also design and manufacture for special projects. For example, they recently designed and built a trailer for an overhead gantry for a customer in Brazil.

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The Gantry trailer was built for the Albras Aluminium Smelter near Belen on the Amazonian delta, northern Brazil. Itis designed to enable quick change over of pots on the smelt line dramatically reducing downtime. The 135t SWL Gantry is mounted onto the two TRT designed lifting pillars, which raise the gantry 6.5m. Featuring 5 steering, rows of 8 axles, this gantry trailer was one of the bigger trailers designed and built in Hamilton at the time.

In addition, they have also completed a number of Defence projects both here in NZ and Australia, including manufacture and integration of 150 tipper bodies to RMMVA units with Rheinmetall Defence, under Land 121B for the Australian Defence Force.

According to Dance, service, parts backup and support is also a key focus for TRT. The business had started through developing innovative technology for trailers and cranes and they have stayed focussed on the innovation and smarts for more than 50 years delivering what others find “difficult”.

“While we build some feats of transport engineering, we can’t offer the best without aftermarket support for customers,” said Dance.

TRT then developed a full aftermarket parts supply operation for heavy transport, and crane markets, all the while developing expertise in house skills to become one of the largest suppliers of after market parts for the crane and transport sector in New Zealand and Australia. They are now leveraging this expertise, in their crane and heavy transport parts division in Australia and are expanding rapidly. Recently, they increased their warehouse space and capacity in Murarrie to meet this demand.

“We boast a huge parts team in New Zealand, almost 50, and we have more representatives on the road than any other parts supplier. In the transport sector, we partner with OEM manufacturers including, Mercedes Benz, Freightliner, IVECO, Scania and many leading aftermarket parts brands. In Australia, we are supporting the growing numbers of the TIDD crane, and as the Manitowoc and Grove dealer in Queensland, we offer a full range of parts and service. While we carry parts for most crane makes and Japanese equipment, we also support our Australian trailer customers as well,” said Dance.

Baker speaks about the strategic approach TRT, and the Carden family, has taken to growing the business.

“In the early 2000s, Bruce and Mary Carden relocated to Australia and began promoting the business. They quickly got the brand and TRT’s products into the market and won significant levels of work, particularly with trailers and our Traction Air CTI system, which were manufactured in NZ. Once the Australian business was established, they moved back to NZ and Bruce was appointed as Manufacturing Director,” he said.

TRT facility in Murrarie, north of Brisbane

TRT is also the longest serving Grove dealer globally, having represented the brand since 1975. Two and a half years ago, on the back of this success and experience, TRT was approached to take over the Queensland distribution of the Manitowoc and Grove cranes. This also gave them the opportunity to take over the Manitowoc Grove facility in Murarrie, which just outside Brisbane according to Dance.

“To support this operation, TRT, led by Robert Carden, acquired B&N Cranes, owned at the time by Troy Hand, who has remained with the business and is now our Crane Service and PNG Manager. B&N Cranes was a crane servicing and refurbishment business, dealing with all makes and models of crane. We were able to retain all the technical experience and expertise from B&N’s team and combining with the Manitowoc team formed what is now TRT Australia,” said Dance.

“We started with a small team of 10, today we number 43. The growth has been rapid and significant, we’ve doubled our turnover in that time, and we are expecting growth of more than 20 per cent for 2019” he said.

According to Baker, the TRT board expects to capitalise on the company’s strengths.

“I was brought into the business 18 months ago and the board has given me a clear directive, to focus on growth for the next three years, and we are on track,” he said.

“It’s fair to say we realise there is only going to be so much organic growth in the business, so we have to look at new opportunities. One is the focus on the new TIDD PC28 and another, the parts and service areas of the business.”

“The South Island distribution centre came online last October, and this provides the parts business with a national footprint in New Zealand. This expansion has been rapid, moving to new larger premises in May this year. In November 2018, we became the Hiab distributor in New Zealand for all of their equipment brands and more recently, the HIAB installation and service agent in Australia. Other areas of growth include our Traction Air central tyre inflation (CTI), which we are launching in Sweden for the European market,” he said.

Growth is also expected from traditional as well as these new areas of the TRT business.

“Our new state-of-the-art ESS trailer was launched at the Brisbane Truck Show in May and the response was very positive. We’ve recently expanded our seats range successfully into the marine and office/control room sectors, and plenty more of diversification is planned to meet customers’ expectations,” said Baker.

“When I started, we had a staff of 182, which has grown to more than 240 across both countries. We expect this to be 290 within the next 12 months. Much of this growth is based around the launch of the TIDD PC28 pick and carry crane and increased numbers of trailers in Australia, as we expand our manufacturing capabilities.

“We estimate the market for pick and carry cranes to be between 15 and 17 units per month and this new crane challenges the function and more importantly the safety of the existing options. We sell directly and through our dealer networks.  The demand on our supply chain is six months in advance, so we are full swing into production. Given the current demand, we are forecasting a dramatic increase in numbers by 2020,” said Baker.

TRT launched the TIDD PC28 at an industry function in mid-May and Dance explains how the event was received.

“There were two strategies with the launch, we needed our customers to see this new innovation in the new PC28, but were also focussed on general risk governance, and organisations that work with or advise tier-one companies about safety and duty of care,” he said.

“The evidence for pick and carry rollovers is quite alarming and we have spent a lot of time and investment in research and development around the safety of the PC28. At the May launch with TRT and June launches with distributors, WATM and Crane Connection, we had a number of safety representatives from industry, including Worksafe ACT, and those that work with Tier One companies, linked to reviewing and rewriting compliance and expectation standards in industry.

“Feedback has been very encouraging. From a governance perspective, we were told we had met and even exceeded the market’s expectations, but that the PC28 had met the requirements to have this class of articulating crane accepted onto tier one sites, where in some cases the pick and carry crane has been excluded due to ongoing safety concerns,” he said.

“Customer feed back has also been very positive. We launched the first TIDD pick and carry, the TIDD PC25, five years ago and we have listened to customer feedback every step of the way, incorporating this into the design of the new PC28. We believe we have it right, and given the results, so does the market. Features like the fully automated 4 section boom and Slew Safe generated extremely positive feedback during the demonstrations at the launches and we are still getting it now,” said Dance.

The special build gantry

The relationship with the Manitowoc Grove is very important to TRT.

“The relationship with Manitowoc Grove started in 1975 when the first Grove unit landed in New Zealand, where TRT manufactured the TIDD Crane Carrier. Dave Carden flew to the US, without an appointment, with a set of drawings. He rocked up to the factory and said ‘we’ve had one of your units delivered into NZ and I think I can help make them better.’ He didn’t leave until he was seen by the design team, and that was the start of a long and very successful relationship,” said Baker.

Both Baker and Dance recognise the potential the Queensland market has for the Manitowoc and Grove brands and their dealer relationship. Manitowoc Grove have reaffirmed this commitment with TRT, with both organisations recently signing a 10-year distribution agreement for Queensland.

“Manitowoc Grove have advised us that we are currently one of the higher performing of their global distributors, which was very pleasing. We plan to build on this success by continuing to develop the local market, and with our new 10 year agreement, we are here for customers for the long haul” said Dance.

“Over the last three we have seen a slow recovery in the Queensland market. Previously, we had seen a high level of used equipment being bought and this is now being fully utilised,” he said.

“As the market grows, we are seeing companies investing in new equipment and last year’s growth was as a direct result of crane sales from around the state. We have stock in the yard and on order for delivery, to make sure that our customers do not have to wait months for a delivery, and because we are confident, we know what the market needs.

“Normally a crane is ordered to customer specifications; it would be manufactured and delivered sometimes taking as long as 8 months. So instead, we have cranes ready for delivery. With various market sectors in Queensland experiencing growth, including mining, infrastructure and major construction projects, TRT are in a position to expand and grow with their operations,” said Dance.

The Queensland operation also has a strong focus on parts and support.

“Since establishing TRT Australia we have grown this parts and support operation seven fold,’ said Baker. “Parts are a key element of our customer support promise and we can only see continued growth as long as we continue to provide the expertise and meet the delivery expectations. Leveraging off our already established international supply chain from the New Zealand parts operation, which far exceeds the size of Australia – at this stage,” he said.

There is another 4000sqm backing onto TRT’s Murarrie facility so there is plenty of capacity for growth on the site. With TRT’s projected growth in Australia, plans are currently being considered for development of this area.

The TRT trailer business is headed up by Bruce Carden, Director of Manufacturing.

“Bruce often reminds the team that TRT only batch builds in two, ‘that’s because if we are not constantly improving on the last two, then we are not challenging ourselves to do better, he says.”

“I joined the company 18 months ago and within a month I watched a ‘state of the art’ trailer leave the factory. At the Brisbane Truck show, we launched the successor to that taking heavy transport trailer technology to the next level. He is already talking about the improvements that can be made to the next model. The trailer business has seen some really strong growth in Australia, and we can see further opportunities as the market remains strong,” said Baker.

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