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Think trailers and a number of companies come to mind. High up on your list will be Schmitz Cargobull, particularly if your fleet is running with side-curtain or refrigerated trailers on the back.

Having doubled its production at its main production facility in Vreden, Germany to an impressive capacity of 61,000 trailers per year, it is also arguably the continent’s leading maker of the semi-trailers, truck bodies, and trailers for temperature-controlled freight, general cargo, and bulk goods. Keen on becoming the global market leader for refrigerated semi-trailers and platform semi-trailers, as well as a reference point for tipper trailers in Europe.

The company has been supplying its trailers to the Middle East for over decades. Fleet customers from Iraq to Saudi Arabia continue to benefit from the company’s expertise in providing a huge variety of tailored trailers based on its modular systems for the running gear, chassis and body. And with the founding of Schmitz Cargobull Middle East FZE in the United Arab Emirates in 2016, the company is more focused than ever on the market.

It also thinks that fleet operators in certain segments are more and more enthusiastic about smart trailer technology that could lead to greater efficiencies and productivity. Returning from the successful Refrigerated Transport open house event at the Riyadh base of local partner Haji Husein Alireza Co. (HHA), Fabian Bahlmann, general manager, Middle East & East Africa tells T&FME that the company is learning learned where it should position itself in the market.

“With transportation markets in the region becoming increasingly saturated, we feel that there are smart fleet-owners in the market, who raise the bar in terms of smarter, safer and more efficient transport,” he says.

The event is the latest stage in a process that has seen the company look to engage a Saudi market that many would argue is price-driven and resistant to technology. Bahlmann however argues that there is a shift underway from that traditional thinking.

“Accepting that there will always be a manufacturer ‘cheaper than Schmitz’ at the moment of purchase, we feel that customers increasingly accept that professional products, processes and services may still result in both, quality and cost leadership,” he adds.

In its S.KO COOL trailer, Schmitz Cargobull created what it believes is an true improvement trailer hardware, fitting a new floor for quieter intercity travel, improving the bulkhead design so that the cooling air can circulate better and upgrading the fixating point to enable easier loading and unloading of goods. Out of the box, these features alone make it a potentially more economical and productive choice for fleets on the cold chain. Bahlmann says that the product has been adapted for the Saudi market after finding out what local fleets really need.

“Together with our Saudi Arabian partner Haji Husein Alireza (HHA), we have conducted many discussions with transport and logistics professionals in the Saudi-Arabian market. We understood that with defined product adjustments, our S.KO COOL product can add significant value to any refrigerated-transport customer. It offers the greatest capacity and payload in class, advanced safety features and was manufactured in line with highest hygiene standards.

However, there is more to the S.KO COOL than that. For many markets, the company has also worked to make reefer semi-trailers smarter, by installing its own TrailerConnect telematics system as standard. The system presents an opportunity for optimum control over an interconnected, integrated logistics chain and can help boost efficiency and reduce total cost of ownership (TCO).

The Saudi market is changing with fleets dealing with greater competition and more scrutiny under tighter transport regulation. Safer and more efficient platform and curtain-sider semi-trailers are becoming more popular as a result, and it was no surprise that dozens of business professionals, representing the central region’s leading fleets, were present throughout the course of the ‘open house’ event.

Bahlmann says it was an important chance to showcase how the company is preparing solutions that can immediately fit their businesses’ changing requirements.

“We invited customers for ‘casual but professional’ individual presentations and discussions around our dedicated models. Considering important key accounts in the central region, we aimed to showcase our capabilities as their preferred semi-trailer solution provider,” he adds. “The main part was a vehicle presentation of our latest S.KO COOL semi-trailer with smart functionalities. Apart from that vehicle specific part, we ran presentations centred on our regionally available value added services (VAS).”

The open house event has been an integral part of a market development strategy in the refrigerated transport segment.

“More activities in similar and different formats are planned and are about to follow, as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is of major importance in terms of our business operation in Middle East.”

The addition of HHA in 2017 was a significant step in shoring up its support in the Saudi market and the partner is now providing extensive training on Schmitz Cargobull technology in addition to representing the brand in the Kingdom.

“Offering our products through HHA’s network enables customers to receive the highest level of aftersales support through professional systems combined with experienced experts on the ground,” explains Bahlmann emphasising the importance of after-sales support to his company. “After-sales services are offered through service centres and mobile workshops nationwide, and is aided by unique systems and online tools. Even outside Saudi Arabia, we have a network of trained workshop partners in UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt and Iraq.”