Toowoomba-based Rytrans Manufacturing adds its own innovations to the design of livestock transport
If you are looking for a better way to do something, very often it’s a simple matter of asking questions. For Ashley Davis, managing director of Rytrans Manufacturing, the basis of his company’s success is knowing how to ask the right questions of his customers in order to incorporate their experience into the company’s designs of livestock trailers.
If you know what faults customers experience in their equipment you can determine how these faults develop and how they impact on the final design. Finding the solution removes the fault and improves not only durability, but also the reliability and usability of the trailer and its components.
After 22 years working for a major trailer manufacturer and building livestock trailers, Ashley and his wife Lee-Ann started Rytrans Manufacturing with the intention of focusing on trailer and equipment repairs and providing help to operators needing to keep their equipment in top shape.
“Repairs have always been our bread and butter,” said Ashley. “That’s how we started. I just opened up a little welding shop, and at the time I thought I was stepping away from livestock, the mining boom was on and I thought I would be getting in to the mining area to develop new equipment.
“A customer came to me that didn’t have a preferred repairer for a livestock trailer, then he gave me a second trailer to repair and word of mouth started getting around. We also have our earthmoving side of the business where we build dozer canopies, modify stick rakes, and build tow couplings for dozers,” he added.
Having branched out on their own just four years ago, Rytrans Manufacturing is expanding its business and its reputation rapidly. Having already outgrown its existing manufacturing facility, November 1st sees the company moving to a new larger facility at 163 Hursley Road, Glen Vale, Toowoomba. With access for B-doubles and road trains, the move enables the company to consolidate its new trailer manufacturing and repairs workshops into one site, significantly improving efficiency.
With 22 staff on board, Ashley recognises that qualified employees are hard to find, but, while he is confident that his team comprises the best skills available, he actively encourages his people to reach further to extend their own capabilities and gain higher qualifications.
“It’s the attitude we have for customers and pride in what we do that’s our difference. I now have the best crew since we started. I can’t fault any of my staff; they all have the right work ethic and levels of responsibility and quality. We keep in very close with them; we talk to them on a one-on-one basis and worry about them as part of the family.
“Boilermaking skills are a big thing on our agenda, but when we hire people it’s not a necessity. We train our employees and every person that does not have a Certificate 3 qualification in boilermaking is actually going through a course with RPL and TAFE. We also have a qualified diesel mechanic as part of the team who is also doing a Cert 3 in boilermaking.
“Our very first apprentice has just been signed off as a Cert 3 and we are talking with him and another employee about doing Cert 4 to advance their skills. The more they want to go with their learning, the more of an asset they are to me, and the greater they benefit financially. It’s a way to grow our people,” said Ashley.
“The faults that we see on the trailers brought to us for repair and rectification are very often the result of poor manufacturing, or damage, or both. As the larger companies increase their production levels they tend to reduce their quality assurance standards. When they start doing high volumes of production, there’s a “got to go” attitude for delivery of the finished product, and they worry about it after it’s out on the road and in the hands of the operator.
“Livestock trailers are really all we build, along with dollies. Although we do have a model of a skel’ and flat top, we haven’t taken that further because of the groundwork we have to do to get a product off the floor. We are not that big a company to be a multi-trailer design manufacturer. Eventually we will, but with the influx of orders we have for new trailers we stay with what we do well.
“Our engineering side is continually optimising the new designs we are developing through listening to our customers about the faults they find and creating solutions that we can incorporate in our own designs. We look at where other trailers are fatiguing and why, and we cater for that in our design.
“I am a great believer in stainless steel and we use it for every floor in every livestock trailer we build. With stainless steel as a floor material I can guarantee 10-15 years of operation without a fault.
“We refurbish a lot of them for operators, and in so doing we put a lot of our design features into their older trailers. Replacing an old steel floor with a new stainless steel floor can add a further 8-10 years of life for a trailer.
“There are a lot of factors in stainless steel that are structural, and as a material there is very little weight difference, but the gain for the operator will be in the reduced corrosion. When repairing trailers from other manufacturers, we have replaced steel floors that are just three or four years old”.
One of the more recent growth areas in livestock transport has been for the movement of pigs, and Rytrans has developed new designs for three-deck pig trailers.
Rytrans will shortly be commencing a build for a new pig trailer where the complete rear two decks lift up and down. Rather than have loading ramps at the back, they load through the back door and the ramps lift to the next deck level. The operator then drops the deck back down, loads again and lifts them up to the next deck.
The deck is the size of a standard pig pen, and when using this system the operator can lift and load the pen through to the front deck, repeat the performance for the second deck, and then the third on the mezzanine level. There’s no climbing up three decks or moving on swinging decks.
“It’s a design my customer came up with and we have incorporated these ideas. We use a hydraulic ram driven pulley system to raise the decks on the pig trailer. The only problem you might get is a flat battery, but it’s easy to put a set of jumper leads on it. The alternative is to incorporate a motorised powerpack mounted on the trailer,” said Ashley.
“Pigs are very susceptible to heat stress, and all pig trailers we build have a retractable shade cloth rollover tarp, plus a fully plumbed overhead water system throughout with sprinklers. If you don’t wet them they become boisterous and restless. When they have a proper sprinkler system they are more comfortable and go to sleep. It’s also vital to have proper air gaps to push ventilation through the decks to keep the pigs cool. This is far better than snorkel systems used in some designs,” he added.
With a new livestock trailer in the yard awaiting collection by its owner, Ashley took the time to walk through the trailer explaining the design features.
“We use galvanized zinc in our construction, and where we can’t get galvanised metal in our main rails we do a thermal zinc coating that is a metal spray applied after the trailer has been sandblasted. We metal spray all the areas that are not galvanised and that provides a zinc coating protection prior to applying two-pack paint finish.
“As well as the floors being stainless steel, all the internal gates are also stainless steel. The longitudinal draining floor angles are set at 45 degrees everywhere that effluent could pool and be trapped. It makes it easy to clean out the drains in the skid plates, as there are no places for the effluent to stick. Effluent tank capacity on our larger trailers is 460 litres.
“Other features we include on our trailers are heavy-duty latches and we fit heavy-duty nylon bearings on all our roller doors. There is no discernible wear and the door operation does not create a groove that can ultimately make the door stick. We also fit anti-wear block plates on the outside edges of the side doors to protect them against damage and marking, plus we have fold-down ladders installed on the sides of the trailers, making it safer and easier to use.
“This attention to detail also extends to the inside of toolboxes, which are flush with the door opening to facilitate washing out. The toolbox mounting system we use enables a universal approach with pre-drilled holes for mounting toolboxes of different capacities along with water tanks,” Ashley added.
The longitudinal ramp design has a 14 ft length, compared with the 12 ft length ramps of some other designs. The additional length reduces the loading angle, making it easier for the stock to access and easier to wash out.
When the stock is on the ramp, the operator can “long pen” the trailer with 22 and 11 in each pen. They raise the ramp up by operating a control at the back of the catwalk. When walking the cattle to stay forwards, the operator doesn’t need to get in and chase cattle.
“All the little things we have seen and dealt with over the years we can incorporate into one design. We don’t fit slam locks, we have a physical drop pin to put in each flap so you know it’s physically locked up and is not going to connect with the next trailers.
“We love fixing things for people and building things for people, and we love the challenges that people bring to us and that we get over. My biggest advertisers are my customers, guys talking to each other guys in truck stops, and when they look over each other’s trailers at sale yards.
“We are also very proud that our livestock trailers will now be available through the Brown and Hurley network as the national distributors of Rytrans Manufacturing. To have Brown and Hurley recognise our ability and provide their support as a reputable company behind me is a great thing,” added Ashley.