Beginning life as a small welding shop in 1976 focusing on aluminium ramps, SureWeld has branched out to become a leader in the manufacturing of aluminium plant trailers.
SureWeld began making aluminium trailers in 2008 as the machinery industry was demanding a lightweight trailer that could carry heavy plant equipment but withstand the challenges of lugging the often heavy machines in challenging areas.
SureWeld sales manager Gareth Hansen turned to aluminium to drop the weight of his trailers.
“We found that the machines were getting heavier, the Utes were getting lighter and the braked towing capacity was dropping, so we developed the aluminium trailer, which was about a third of the weight when compared to standard steel,” Hansen said.
“We started with one trailer model that was for 1.7 tonne machines and over the years we have continually developed it to now include 2.5 to 4.1 tonnes.”
SureWeld is distributing Australia wide from its base in Victoria. Hansen said 80 per cent of customers are through machinery resellers and a small portion of its business is direct dealings with end users. The trailers are often sold as a package with the machines themselves.
“The trailers definitely live a tough life, so that’s why we have to develop a product to handle the rigours of the environment they work in,” Hansen said.
“What sets us apart is that our products are Australian made with Australian materials thanks to sourcing our aluminium through Capral.”
SureWeld is located in the regional Victorian town of Wangaratta. The company supports Australian industry and local Victorian industry to produce and transport the trailers Australia wide.
While its trailers have become a critical component of the business, SureWeld has not forgotten how the company started.
“Our aluminium ramps are a little over 50 kilograms, whereas others can be closer to 80 kilograms,” Hansen said.
“We take a lot of pride in our trailers and ramps using a process we call our rolled drawbar.
“Effectively we take on piece of aluminium that we heat treat and roll into the shapes we need, it adds greater stability to the trailer and improves the life expectancy.”
SureWeld has cultivated a strong relationship with Capral. After previously sourcing its aluminium from other suppliers, it needed the quality and reliability of Capral during COVID.
“When the material first arrives from Capral, we rigorously test it on our hardness tester to ensure it meets the standards we set,” Hansen explained.
“Capral has excellent testing procedures but by doing the testing ourselves as well, we know we are sending the best quality product to market.
“Once it passes its testing, it then rolls onto the production line, where it goes through cutting, shutting, welding, and then finally cleaning.”
Over the previous decade, SureWeld has begun to slowly implement automation into its production line.
“We have brought in a couple of CNC water jet cutters, brake presses, guillotines and other things to improve our processes,” Hansen said.
“Bringing in this automation allows us to ensure we have consistency going out to market.”
Working with Capral
The extrusions used by SureWeld have developed at regular intervals over the journey. The desire for a high quality aluminium was what saw them return to the aluminium specialist.
“When we came back to Capral in 2020, we worked closely with the team when we wanted to add hollows in some sections and thin out and beef up others,” Hansen said.
“Capral has been really good at giving feedback on what they can extrude – our engineers will approach the team and they will give us an understanding of the feasibility.”
While the materials received from Capral have been of the highest quality for SureWeld, the relationship between the two is also important.
“Capral have been an excellent supply chain partner over the years,” Hansen explained.
“The fast lead times, ease of doing business and their prompt response to all our enquiries make them an excellent supply chain partner for us.
“They are priced really well and they are Australian made and produced, which is a major plus for us.”
Designing the trailers
SureWeld has a team of around 30 staff all striving to deliver the highest quality aluminium trailers and ramps. The quality process all begins with the design team.
“All of our design is done in house with our team of engineers,” he said.
“The designs begin at inception when they are drafted, then we move on to the prototyping stage in which we test the capabilities to mass manufacture the trailers and ramps.
“Those prototypes will then go into field testing where they can spend months and even years to test for fatigue issues and any potential shortcomings of the trailer.”
The trailers are also inspected by infrastructure Australia to ensure they meet the organisations specifications and minimum design requirements.
“Quality is one of our top priorities,” Hansen said.
“The reality is that aluminium does wear out, but the quality of our product offers the most life expectancy out of it.
“If anything goes wrong, we always ensure that we provide that backup support needed to get them back online as quickly as possible.”
The motto for SureWeld is to keep Australia moving. That can mean either the machines or the people.
“Things can go wrong, but we have backup support across the country to support them and get them up and running,” Hansen explained.
“All of our spare parts are Australian made and locally sourced to ensure we are giving the highest quality to our customers.
“Customers are regularly commending us on how easy we are to do business with from the registration through to the ordering.
“There does not need to be a lot of backwards and forwards trying to understand each other, all we need to do is uncover their needs from the get-go and deliver them a quality aluminium trailer.”