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Drake tackles turnaround times in factory restructure

Across its multiple platforms and extensive trailer offerings, The Drake Group has always aligned itself with high-quality transport solutions.

However, although The Drake Group has over 300 employees working at its Queensland premises, due to high demand for customised trailers, owners and operators can be quoted an average lead time of 18 months to three years.

In order to resolve this issue, The Drake Group’s head office in Queensland recently underwent a factory restructure. Following this restructure, a ‘stock’ spec program for Drake quad full wideners and Drake quad deck wideners was introduced and the company has achieved significant improvements in turnaround times and in the manufacturing process.

“We decided to introduce two dedicated jigs for stock trailers into our production program,” says The Drake Group Sales Manager, Byron Foss. “It’s something that we’ve come up with to benefit the client, and for those people who are wanting something quickly.

“We know what sells, so we came up with a really good ‘stock’ spec for our full wideners and deck wideners as well. Now, sometimes you might not be able to get exactly what you want because we do limit the options available on these stock trailers, but it just means that you can get a trailer and have it earning money significantly quicker, rather than having to wait for a custom build.”

With the new equipment and stock program in place, The Drake Group can now deliver its customers a trailer more than 60 per cent faster than before.

“It’s been really good for our customers,” Byron says. “For some people, if they’re going to win a contract and have a start date, a three-year wait for a custom-built trailer is obviously too long. But now, they can get in line for a ‘stock’ spec and get it within 12 to 14 months, subject to prior sales. We still have seven other Drake jigs making custom-built trailers too, so we can do anything the client wants.”

As part of the new arrangement, all parts for a stock trailer are pre-cut and left with The Drake Group’s fabricators – ready to go for when they are needed to build a new trailer.

“Every trailer has got its own unique parts to it, but because this is a part of a stock build program, all the parts are pre-cut and sitting beside the boilermakers and welders,” Byron says. “What this does is it enhances productivity. Because the workers aren’t building something different every time, it creates efficiencies by having the parts readily available on-hand. They’re not waiting for them to come in.”

Image: The Drake Group.

While the new method of operations has led to some significant savings for the business, more importantly, it is advantageous to the end user.

“The people that are going to benefit most out of it are our customers, because they’re not having to wait,” Byron says. “There are some savings to the business when you improve efficiencies, but it’s more about the customer benefitting by being able to get a well-spec’d trailer in quick time.”

This process also plays a role in The Drake Group’s aim to grow all business units, including Drake Trailers, O’Phee Trailers, its Parts and Service Division, and its engineering arm, Dalzell & Bagley.

According to Byron, it has given everyone a different mentality.

“When everyone knows their task, it just automatically creates harmony and competency during the manufacturing process because the boilermakers and fit-out teams know the exact spec and are therefore able to get through their workload quicker,” he says. “It benefits everyone involved.”

Coinciding with the factory upgrade for Drake Trailers, The Drake Group is also feeding its efforts into the O’Phee Trailers business. The company has also introduced a stock program for the O’Phee sideloader range – housing the Swinglift and BoXLoader products – to deliver a container sideloader trailer in under six months.

Byron says Sam Drake, who was appointed to Director of the business last year, plays a key role in The Drake Group’s stock trailer programs.

“Sam has changed roles to a Director, but he’s also what we’re calling the Business Unit Manager for new trailers,” he says. “Sam has been instrumental in trying to create these efficiencies in the stock trailer programs, and he’s done very well in finding those areas that can be improved.

“Because of his head for business, and obviously having a strong sales background, he has a great understanding of our customers’ requirements. So, being able to take that outlook and then apply it in the factory to streamline this stock program, he has a really good understanding of what the customers want and what they need, and quite often it’s trailers quicker than our standard three-year lead times for a custom build.”

Over the past year, Byron says The Drake Group has performed very positively in the market. Order intake has reportedly been fantastic, and due to that, it’s given the team a lot of confidence that the next couple of years will be strong for the business. As The Drake Group advances with its new stock trailer programs, it will continue to offer the market a durable product – now with an even better customer experience.

“Our customers are enjoying our quality lately, they’re enjoying our workmanship and that has put us in a really good position,” Byron says. “Our reputation seems to be improving in the marketplace, and going forward, we’re excited to keep bringing our customers the best service we can possible provide.”

The post Drake tackles turnaround times in factory restructure appeared first on Trailer Magazine.

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