Market report - Trailers and keeping them safe

Manufacturers are developing new ways to protect equipment against theft, Sally Drury reports.

Adventure Trailers (Europe) offers bespoke builds to meet individual specifications - image: Adventure Trailers (Europe)
Adventure Trailers (Europe) offers bespoke builds to meet individual specifications - image: Adventure Trailers (Europe)

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A few months ago, I parked in a busy midlands car park. When I returned later, the new tyres fitted a couple of days earlier had been replaced by worn, balding and highly-illegal tyres. How? When you see a chap in a fluorescent jacket climb out of a white van and start "maintenance work" on a car - even a van or a trailer - what do you think? I would think he was doing roadside repairs. I now have locking nuts on my wheels.

Then there is the sad story of a contractor who, on the way to a job, called in at a motorway service station. He had a quick bite to eat and returned to his vehicle to find the transit was still there but the trailer, fully loaded with scarifier, aerator, sprayer, ride-on mower and hand tools, was gone.

Only the other day, a company representative arrived at a HW machinery test site in Oxfordshire with a sorry tale of how he had two expensive shredders lifted from his trailer in the previous week. It makes you wonder just how safe is anything these days. But what can be done to limit the theft of trailers and/or the machinery being transported?

Recently, an owner found her horsebox being advertised for sale on the internet. Interestingly, she had engraved her postcode into the drawbar. Now that is a good idea, though it potentially only helps in the return of stolen items. Customisation of the trailer, with logo and other graphics, is perhaps more of a deterrent, while also aiding with identification and providing an advertisement for your business. Trailer manufacturers have more suggestions.

Taking security seriously

At Ifor Williams Trailers (IWT), based in Denbighshire in Wales, trailer security is taken very seriously. Each trailer produced is fitted with an ID plate bearing a unique serial number. The drawbar has a different, and again unique, number cut through it - making it virtually impossible to alter without noticeably affecting the appearance of the numbers and the galvanised finish.

When a trailer is purchased from IWT or one of its dealers, it is automatically registered with TER - the National Plant & Equipment Register - an organisation aiming to combat plant theft and fraud. By registering ownership, both technical and marking details can be made available to international police forces through TER. Trailers can also be marked with the Datatag system.

Datatag, a system of tiny electronic transponders or tags, originally developed to combat motorcycle theft, is now widely used on vehicles, trailers and all manner of horticultural, agricultural and forestry machinery. Transponders are miniature transmitters and can be hidden deep within the trailer or machinery. They transmit a unique code that can be read with special scanning guns. On recovery of a stolen trailer, the owner's identity can be verified.

The IWT Coupling Head Lock is a new visual deterrent. It is designed to fit 50mm ball couplings fitted with the Avonride head and will suit most braked trailers in the IWT range, excluding the CT115, CT136 and Eurolight models. The lock is easy to fit - it takes less than a minute - and many customers find it easier and more comfortable than fitting a wheel clamp.

The lock encases the operating handle and lock sections of the coupling head to prevent unauthorised operation or tampering of the components. It is plated and in addition the upper section is powder-coated. Internal elements are made of non-rusting materials and a waterproof cover gives extra protection. As a final benefit, a spare barrel lock is supplied.

Tested and approved to the coveted Gold Standard by Sold Secure, the lock offers a top level of resistance against the dedicated thief and may reduce your trailer insurance premium. It is supplied with two keys, dummy ball and waterproof cover. Other visual deterrents available from IWT include a lock chain with hardened square links protected by a nylon cover, plus a range of padlocks.

Tracking devices

Indespension also recognises the need for security and as part of its service the company offers new trailers with a choice of tracking devices - either Datatag or Indespension Tracker Device (ITD).

The device can track and record the whereabouts of a trailer and, if it has been removed, ITD utilises mobile phone technology and the GSM network with a radio beacon for exact positioning to less than a metre. Connected to an alarm centre with back-up and recovery teams on call, the ITD is completely wireless and waterproof. It weighs under 250g, has a battery life of four years and does not require an outside power source.

Other theft prevention kit supplied by Indespension includes the TripleLock - a range of coupling heads with an integral locking device that operates automatically whenever the coupling handle is released and renders the trailer unhitchable until the locking mechanism is operated - Ball Socket Locks, Shrouded Locks to give added security, wheel clamps, audible alarms and padlocks.

Sometimes a thief is after the trailer, sometimes the load, sometimes both. Securing your load is essential for safe transport but can also help to prevent it from being removed quickly. Another solution possible for some items is to keep them hidden within a box trailer or van or under a cover.

A new type of box trailer, suitable to carrying chainsaws and other expensive kit, is available from Adventure Trailers (Europe). The company offers the horticulture industry a tough, off-road, high-mobility trailer, which also has the advantage of being the first to hold full European Whole Vehicle Type approval - something that now applies to all trailers sold in the UK and Europe.

Designed, built and assembled in Yorkshire, the Built-For-Off-Road trailers feature a galvanised chassis and bodywork, LEDs, sealed wiring, stainless steel fittings and fully-independent suspension boasting Fox Racing Shox and Eibach springs to provide what Adventure Trailer says is an "unsurpassed" ride onand off-road while also reducing fatigue on the trailer, the vehicle and, of course, the occupants. Various hitch options, together with an adjustable hitch-height feature, optimise the trailer with the towing vehicle.

The chassis is built by Bradley Trailer Technology in Bingley, West Yorkshire - owner of Dixon Bate, specialist manufacturer of trailers and trailer components for more than 60 years. Dixon Bate also makes the standard military hitch as used by NATO forces.

A gap in the market

Adventure Trailers says its trailers fill a gap in the market for a tough, general purpose, go-anywhere, load-carrying trailer platform. It offers bespoke builds to meet individual specifications and can also supply the bare galvanised chassis for anyone wishing to carry out their own builds.

There are two off-the-shelf bodies - the Chaser and Horizon models - delivered in the colour of the operator's choice to match the towing vehicle.

Both units have overall dimensions of 3.66x1.68m and gross weight of 1,300kg. It is the cargo box that differentiates the two models. The Chaser has a box measuring 1.82x1.27x0.66m with a capacity of 1,275 litres, while the Horizon measures 1.83x1.73x0.77m and an has a higher capacity of 1,391 litres.

For gardens, for nurseries and for fun

SCH (Supplies) of Suffolk offers to design and construct trailers to suit needs. This can range from a two-tier nursery trailer, where the top shelf is height adjustable and can be twoor four-wheel steer, to a large 2.4x1.8m container moving trailer. The company has also built "Fun Trains" used by garden centres to provide rides for customers and children alike.

New trailers

- Earlier this year, Indespension introduced its multi-plant trailer. With a fully hot dipped galvanised and welded body, the trailer has been designed to the new maximum European width of 2.55m wide. It has a 350mm low bed height and comes on 185/70R13 tyres. Other features include a bolt-on replaceable A-frame and an LED option.

- The CarGo Shifter trailer from Brian James can now be fitted with a double-height, fully removable side system to provide a high cubic capacity. Each section is individually removable in seconds and features an aluminium tri-compartment construction to increase strength and reduce weight.

- Believed to be the largest tipper of its kind in the UK, the newest CarGo Tipper Trailer from Brian James Trailers is 3.9m long. It features a large, twin hydraulic ram set.

- With a bed size of 48x48in and with stepped 24in-deep sides giving an upper body width of 64in, the new 750 GPW is a compact, high-volume, heavy-duty general purpose trailer from Hazlewood Trailers of Worcestershire. Features include fully welded and hot dipped galvanised chassis/body, substantial A-frame and integral commercial-grade jockey wheel and six-ply commercial 10in tyres for a low bed height. All road lights are recessed into steel channels and there are four internal lashing eyes and external rope hooks. The trailer - 750kg gross weight and with a 550kg payload - can be stored on end in most garages.

- Designed for a range of tasks from spreading to placing sand in bunkers, filling trenchers or filling other machines, the AFT Multi-Use Trailer is suitable for tractors from 25hp. It features hydraulic functions electronically operated from the cab, three-way release options for topping up paths or beds, optional removable and adjustable spreader and optional front trench filling system. Capacity is 2cu m, extendable to 3cu m.

- With a light footprint for materials handling, the Dakota 525 Turf Trailer will carry up to 2,500kg and features an automatic opening tailgate, jack stands and A-frame construction with wide Ultra Trac flotation tyres on independent walking beam axles. All functions are controlled from the cab.

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