Offering tonnes of choice

February 1, 2018
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As BPW in Germany heads to its 120th anniversary, its tagline “We Think Transport” is more pertinent than it has ever been. GAVIN MYERS chats to Andre Cilliers, MD of BPW Axles South Africa, about some of the company’s current initiatives that make it a leading parts supplier in the South African transport industry.

BPW Axles South Africa can trace its roots back to 1945 and, despite some name and ownership changes here and there, has always remained true to the ideals of supplying a range of quality, technologically advanced products, and being a long-term partner to its customers by offering the aftersales service to match.

As the company wraps up 2017 and heads into 2018, it has much to celebrate…

According to Cilliers, BPW in South Africa follows the typical European style of running gear, but adapted for local conditions.

“For example, on the Airlight 2 clamped suspension system, all the axle beams have been ‘reinforced’ with a higher wall thickness than is used in Europe (120×15 vs. 120×10). This allows for the axle seats to be welded on – rather than being clamped on as they are in Europe – which has the benefit that the running gear is more forgiving in the case of maintenance oversights,” he suggests.

These axles have a ten-tonne per axle carrying capacity. However, in September the Airlight 2 suspension was introduced as a clamp-on system for nine-tonne single-wheel applications. This saves up to 40 kg per axle on triaxle semitrailers equipped with single wheels.

“Local testing proved that this layout will be successful, and, since it is limited to single-wheel applications, the axle load will be limited to the legislated eight-tonnes per axle,” Cilliers notes.

In 2018, buyers can look forward to an upgraded
Airlight 2 system, as BPW Axles seeks to further rationalise its product range. The revisions will include a revised thickness and trailing-arm manufacturing process, which enables a carrying capacity of up to 12-t per axle, as opposed to the current capacity of ten tonnes.

“This means that the Airlight 2 suspension can be fitted with confidence to local heavy-duty applications, such as side tippers! This new version will be introduced to the local market early in 2018,” says Cilliers.

This will mean that BPW can offer one suspension model for all local applications, reserving the existing heavy-duty SL suspension range for “African” heavy-duty applications, where more than 12-t per axle is required.

As the company knows, however, good suspension can only support its load as well as it is supported by the aftersales service. While BPW original spare parts are available through an extensive network of distributors, the company is taking steps to ensure the second life of the vehicle for owners of second-hand or out-of-warranty units.

“In the past we would lose out to lower-priced alternative parts. This is why, two years ago, BPW in Europe acquired one of the largest alternate-parts manufacturers for commercial vehicles in Europe – the well-known PE Automotive GmbH.

“BPW Axles therefore now offers a decent range of alternative trailer parts (branded PE), offering a high-quality alternative to the original equipment (OE) parts, for those wishing to follow this route,” Cilliers reveals.

However, BPW Axles South Africa may not stop at trailer components. The company is investigating the possibility of importing and supplying PE-branded truck and bus parts (which make up more than 50 percent of the PE Automotive parts basket offering).

It seems as though the company could now be destined for a new era as a leader in parts supply.

My life has always revolved around anything with wheels and an engine. It doesn’t matter if its an old banger, the latest hot-hatch or a fancy 4×4 – any excuse is a good excuse to take it for a cruise, spank it at the track or go bundu-bashing (the mud-and-rocks-side-of-a-mountain type, not the exploring-Joburg’s-pavements type). Otherwise, chances are you’ll find me lying underneath one of my beloved toys or with my head buried in its engine bay, tinkering away.

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