A return to UK production sees German engineering meet Mancunian manufacturing for Schmitz Cargobull, as Ian Shaw reports.

The UK trailer sector is unique. That’s the view of Europe’s leading trailer manufacturer Schmitz Cargobull and partly the reason behind its new factory in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. The site has being ramping up its production since the summer of 2021 and is now in full swing, supplying a range of trailers, particularly specified for the UK and Ireland.

“Schmitz Cargobull stands for reliability and innovation and guarantees consistently high-quality standards worldwide, from vehicle configuration to the handover of the vehicle to the customer. The opening of the plant, here on site in Manchester, is therefore an important step. The plant joins our network of highly flexible production facilities, enabling us to respond quickly to local market requirements,” said Andreas Schmitz, CEO at Schmitz Cargobull, at the Manchester factory’s official opening ceremony.

With an annual production of around 61,000 trailers and with approximately 6,900 employees, Schmitz Cargobull AG is Europe’s leading manufacturer of semi-trailers, trailers and truck bodies for temperature-controlled freight, general cargo and bulk goods. The company achieved sales of around €2.3 billion in the 2021/22 financial year

The new Schmitz Cargobull facility in the UK is the latest of a total of ten production sites with three in Germany (Altenberge, Vreden, and Gotha), Lithuania, Spain, Slovakia, Turkey, Australia and South Africa. The 7,500 sq m production area in Manchester offers a total capacity of 60 units per week in single-shift operation. The 1,000m2 spare parts warehouse ensures rapid local supply and in addition to its position of supplying the UK and Ireland marketplace, the company also sees it as the ‘missing corner’ to its three other production points in Europe; North, East and South.

“The new Manchester plant enables us to bring trailers to our customers in the UK and Ireland that fit specific market demands, while offering the most reliable and proven chassis solutions in order to help achieve best total cost of ownership. In addition, transfer costs, CO2 emissions and throughput times are minimised,” comments Boris Billich, Schmitz Cargobull’s Director of Sales.

The Wythenshawe facility employs a total of 72 people and the team is led by Paul Avery, Managing Director Operations, and Colin Maher, who has held the position of Managing Director since January 2023.

“We want to support transport companies in the UK and Ireland in the best possible way with our comprehensive range of reliable and innovative transport solutions. This includes vehicles with market-specific features, the shortest delivery times, an extensive 24/7 spare parts supply as well as our proven range of services from financing to telematics and used vehicle sales,” says Colin Maher. “The introduction of the new semi-trailers means we now have our strongest ever product portfolio in the UK.”

“Manchester has proven the perfect location for us with its strong industrial heritage,” adds Paul Avery. “We’re already seeing a significant influx.

Freepost delivery

The company also took the opening of the Manchester factory to launch its latest model in its domination of the curtainside trailer sector. Called the S.CS FREEPOST it will be the newest design that the Manchester factory will produce

The trailer, which features a fixed aluminium roof, galvanised steel outer rails and a reinforced chassis structure, does not have any side stanchions.

This pillarless design allows the driver a free side loading and unloading height of up to 3,200 mm. To facilitate unloading, the curtain can be tensioned from both the front and the rear. Additional handling comfort is provided by the optional Schmitz Cargobull Susi-Rail. This allows the light and brake connections to be moved and operated from the side. The S.CS FREEPOST is available in different heights from 4,200 mm to 4,800 mm.

Flexible load securing points with continuous lashing holes in the outer frame and optionally 16 pairs of 4 tonne lashing rings are available for optimum securing of the load. Slipping of the load can be prevented by optionally available load securing straps, which are tensioned in rails from the floor to the roof. Additional security against unauthorised access is provided by an anti-theft wire mesh integrated in the tarpaulin as standard.

Alongside the FREEPOST, the site will also assemble the FIXED ROOF curtainsider, has also developed for general cargo transport. The FIXED ROOF is equipped with steel elements and enables the load securing system, which is standard in the UK, to be attached to the centre of the roof. The aluminium end wall with steel corner supports is specially designed for the UK market.  The trailer offers a low tare weight as well as a payload of up to 32 tonnes and is easy to load and unload thanks to a loading height of up to 3.1 m. The S.CS FIXED ROOF is also equipped with a wire mesh in the side tarpaulin as standard, which significantly increases theft protection. Like the S.CS FREEPOST, the S.CS FIXED ROOF can also be supplemented with various load securing options. Securing the load becomes easier with the anti-slip floor with black plastic coating. The load stands more firmly, and no loose anti-slip mats are needed.

The third trailer in the UK-specific line-up is the dry freight semi-trailer S.BO PACE which is primarily targeted at transport companies in the parcel and dry freight segment. The body consists of innovative STRUKTOPLAST panels. Thanks to the lightweight, Polypropylene honeycomb-shaped panels, the trailer weighs around 700 kg less than comparable vehicles with a plywood body. The lower net weight of the trailer increases payload capability. Furthermore, a significant reduction in CO2 emissions is achieved over the entire service life of the trailer, enabling transport companies to reduce their fuel costs and environmental impact.

The S.BO PACE offers a wide range of options, such as load securing rails, a white-translucent roof, a tail lift and two different rear variants, either aluminium doors or roller shutter. The vehicle can be equipped with numerous load-securing components, such as package securing nets. The floor load capacity is 5.5 t as standard and can optionally be increased to 7.1 t or 8.0 t if heavier loads need to be transported or industrial trucks need to be carried.

All three trailers are characterised by Schmitz Cargobull’s well-known high standard of quality and durability. Like all Schmitz Cargobull trailers, they are equipped with the proven repair-friendly and galvanised Modulos chassis with a 10-year guarantee against rust-through.

The chassis are complemented by the Rotos axles with disc brakes, which already have a million units in service and are guaranteed for 1,000,000 km or six years – whichever comes first.

The vehicles are completed by TrailerConnect® telematics from Schmitz Cargobull, which is fitted as standard ex works. TrailerConnect® offers intelligent connectivity for better planning and controlled data exchange along the supply chain, supporting the rapid diagnosis and processing of the collected data from all components.

Before the start of production, all of the trailers were subjected to a series of stringent tests to ensure they meet the strict TÜV requirements and are DIN EN 12642 Code XL certified. Transport operators can therefore rely on high-quality vehicles with maximum safety for general freight transport.

All three trailers can be backed with a comprehensive range of services, to ensure all trailer-related needs are met throughout its entire service life.