Polarising the Business Landscape

polarising the business landscape

It would seem that the Covid pandemic has had the effect of polarising the business landscape in Australia of late. Depending on the type of business, it can be either boom or bust … or perhaps something in between.

Fortunately for anything transport related, the former is generally the case, and this is certainly true of Robuk Engineering, which was established in June 2020 and specialises in the manufacture of high-end bespoke tippers and dollies. 

Out of a workforce totalling 30 at present, nine of these are apprentices and James Yerbury, owner of Robuk Engineering says giving young people a chance to shine is high on his priority list. 

“Not everyone comes with a trade background – some guys who we have employed are unskilled or want to pursue a second trade which we encourage,” says James. “I knew we weren’t going to be making a huge profit right off the bat, but building the right team is the most important thing, along with growing the business so that every employee has the opportunity to build their skills and grow into new roles as they progress.”

James believes the current boom the industry is experiencing won’t last forever, so he wants to ensure the business is structured to be sustainable when it inevitably comes off the boil. For this reason, he’s setting up a repair bay in the workshop to augment the trailer and dolly construction work. This will cater to any brand of trailer.

“Parts and repairs will form a key part of the business,” says James, adding that the decision to base it in Hemmant was a strategic one due to its close proximity to the Port of Brisbane and the brace of trucking companies located nearby.  

polarising the business landscape

As for how Robuk trailers are built, James says some of the work such as blasting and painting is outsourced while he has invested in the latest technology in aluminium and steel welding machines, including Austrian-made Fronius MIG with push-pull guns for the aluminium and Lincoln MIG with water-cooled guns for the steel.

The trailers are constructed using 5.0mm front wall, tailgate and sides with the option of 6.0mm sides. Floor sheet gauges range from 6.0 to 10mm depending on the design and application of the trailer.  

Hoist are one of the most critical components in a tipper due to the stress exerted on it every time the trailer is tipped. For this reason Robuk has engineered its hoist wells to be bullet-proof. 

“Trailers carting liquid see the highest stresses on the hoist well so we have engineered the extra strength required for liquid into our grain tippers to ensure ultimate longevity and resistance to fatigue cracking,” says James, adding that the company fabricated a special display for the Brisbane Truck Show this year to enable people to see the amount of engineering work that goes into a hoist well to ensure it stands the test of time. 

“There is a lot of craftsmanship that goes into it and the welding quality has to be spot on,” says James. “We also press a lot of forming creases into our plate for extra strength and we have a CNC plasma cutter which enables us to make the exact shapes we need for optimum strength.”

One of the team is working full time on the CNC plasma cutter making profiles for the trailer bodies and fit-outs including light bars.

“Our light bars are one piece and made from plate rather than extrusions welded together,” says James. “Because they are CNC cut, they are easy to replace down the track if necessary.”

Each trailer Robuk builds has an individual VIN number and is kept on a database for ease of spare parts procurement in the future. The dimensions of every part that’s CNC cut on the trailer is stored in the database so that it can be easily accessed if a replacement item is required.  

polarising the business landscape

SUBHEAD///PBS Proliferation

Robuk was quick to incorporate Performance-Based Standards (PBS) in its builds following the success of PBS A-doubles carrying containers between Toowoomba and the Port of Brisbane. 

“It was quite a steep learning curve working with the certifiers and assessors to get combinations on the road,” says James. “Our priority now is to ensure our customers are getting the best bang for buck in terms of combinations that specifically suit their operations.”

As for the future of Robuk, James says while the focus of the business is firmly on trailer building and repairs at present, in the future he anticipates there will be opportunities to diversify into a broader range of offerings in the engineering sphere.

“I’ve got lots of ideas rolling around in my head, but ultimately we aim to continue growing the business in a sustainable manner, incorporating new elements in order to maintain stable employment for our expanding team of loyal and dedicated employees,” says James.

polarising the business landscape