Adopting Global Products to Regional NeedsTue, 09/15/2015 - 16:00
Q: Since most trailer companies specialize in certain types of trailers, what gives Fruehauf the ability to be successful when managing a wider product portfolio?
A: Fruehauf has always operated this way, since it has allowed us to enter niche markets where particular trailers are needed. We may produce one product line at a slow pace because this is the way the industry works, but we are able to move our personnel from one product line to another if there is a huge surge in demand for a certain product. This is an advantage we have always offered the market.
Q: What have been your flagship accomplishments during Fruehauf’s 48 years in Mexico, and how important is the market for your global operations?
A: We introduced the 40-foot dry van, when it became popular in the US as a replacement for the 48-foot dry van. Furthermore, we introduced the 53-foot dry van and a lighter scissor dump trailer in Mexico. Perhaps our flagship vehicles for the trucking industry are dry vans for general cargo, as well as platforms and dump trailers that are usually for the construction and mining industries. We also have all kinds of tanks for hauling petroleum products, refined products, acids, and also food products such as vegetable oils and molasses. Our manufacturing practices make our trailers durable and sturdy, adapted to Mexican conditions, including overloading, as well as poor road conditions on some routes. Our trailers are made for longevity and overloading even on the poorest road conditions. The border area is particularly full of used US trailers. However, closer to the center of Mexico they do not work to the same standards, since US-spec trailers are not adapted to our terrain and loading conditions. The US used trailer market affects us, but we are holding our own, and our competitors are doing well too, thanks to the need for different specifications for the Mexican market. The automotive industry is very important for Fruehauf in Mexico, and it always has been. We have several trailer designs that are used specifically for the transportation of automotive parts and components, as well as platforms that are used to haul steel and aluminum rolls, and curtain side trailers for car components racks. The latter are drop-deck designs that offer a lot more capacity to be able to haul more racks.
Q: Who are your major automotive clients in Mexico and how do you manage exports?
A: Our customers are trucking companies that supply or haul for automobile plants or their suppliers. The Bajio region is now full of new OEMs, and trucking companies are supplying the freight for them. We designed a drop- deck trailer for Nissan with certain height dimensions and cubic capacity, which was the one occasion we worked directly with that company. Usually, trucking companies come to us with requests for a specific design to meet the needs of their automotive industry clients. We have the engineering and manufacturing capability to meet any of these requirements.
Fruehauf is not manufacturing anywhere else in the world. In 2012, we exported about 200 specialized units to South America and are now exploring the US market, specifically the petroleum drilling industry, to expand our export sales. To this end, Fruehauf has strategies and campaigns to encourage fleet renewal and safety awareness, as well as encouraging owner-operators to look beyond price.
Q: To what extent is Fruehauf investigating innovations to design and manufacture?
A: We are eager to innovate and are now working on a new design of dump trucks for the mining industry, since it is increasingly conscious of weight limits. To meet their design, we are developing a much lighter dump trailer that does not sacrifice strength or durability. We have introduced a dry van with increased interior width, since some US companies specifically request this type of trailer. In terms of packaging companies’ needs, cubic capacity is paramount, as well as strength, durability, and light weight. This creates a particularly challenging engineering task to make lighter vehicles with more capacity and the same strength. We have a very good engineering department and we have made a lot of advances in Mexico that have not yet been applied in the US or Europe. To reach the US market we have a trailer that is ideal for the oil drilling industry, and we would like to use this as a springboard into that market. However, our strategy is to keep doing what we do well, which has kept us here for the last 48 years.