LES ATELIERS BEAU-ROC Inc, has bid adieu to Quebec, opening a 55,000-sq-ft manufacturing plant in Ontario and unveiling a new unibody design that drastically reduces installation time.
The new facility, located just outside Ottawa, still keeps Beau-Roc close to Quebec, yet it moves production more to the center of where management anticipates its sales growth will occur. The company began more than a decade ago as a manufacturer that built dump bodies for eastern Canada and for the northeastern United States. In recent years, that scope has expanded significantly.
"We now are reaching as far west as Minnesota," says Pierre Paul Labreche, sales and dealer development.
Beau-Roc moved west last summer, taking over a building in Vars, Ontario, which had housed a steel warehouse. The company spent some $150,000 in improvements to get the facility ready to manufacture dump bodies. Among the items Beau-Roc installed were a monorail system for moving bodies through the plant, a new paint booth, and a special sandblast booth. The booth, an improved version of what Beau-Roc used at its previous facility, enables the operator to sandblast steel dump bodies without having to put on special respiratory equipment or protective clothing. That is because he operates a remote blast nozzle from an enclosed area outside the work zone.
Beau-Roc opened the plant last summer with one assembly line. In mid-December, however, the company set up a second line for bodies with more unusual specifications. When operating only the first assembly line, the plant could produce between 9 and 11 bodies per day. With the addition of the second line, management believes capacity will increase to 20 bodies per day. "The second line will take the pressure off our main line," LabrEche says. "With a custom line in production, our main assembly line will be able to flow smoothly. We don't want the main line to have to stop. There is a certain rhythm to building dump bodies. If you stop, you lose it."
Quick-Mount Body Beau-Roc has developed an optional package designed to allow its dump bodies to be installed as much as 10 hours faster.
Available on all Beau-Roc dump bodies, the option reduces mounting times by making the body a simple bolt-on installation. With this option, the body comes already mounted to a steel subframe. The subframe drops on top of the chassis frame in much the same way as a frame reinforcement. The subframe lines up with the web of the chassis frame. The entire assembly can be secured by bolting the subframe at the corners.
With the installation option, the hoist and hydraulic reservoir come preinstalled as well. A downward operating Mailhot telescopic hoist is standard.
One of the more innovative ideas of the design is the specially shaped hydraulic reservoir that fits between the V-shaped long sills of the dump body. Trapezoidal in cross section, the tank is mounted flat on the subframe, claiming space that otherwise would go unused.
Completing the installation package is a universal cab shield that can be cut to fit as required to accommodate the cab height of the chassis on which the body is to be installed.
Using Exotic Steels Beau-Roc produces its entire dump body line using Hardox high-strength steels. With a Brinell hardness of up to 400, Hardox is far more impact-resistant than standard mild steel. This means a dump body made of Hardox can weigh between 1,500 and 1,800 pounds less than a comparable model made of more traditional steel. One major disadvantage, however, is cost.
"It's going to be twice the price," Labreche says. "But customers are catching on. They recognize that they can recover the extra cost quickly because of additional payload and the fact that the dump body is more durable than one made of conventional steel."
Manufacturing dump bodies with such high-strength steels does present some fabrication challenges, but the company's design yields itself to steels with high yield strengths.
"We build the entire body out of Hardox-anything from 1/8" to 1/2"," Labreche says. "About the only time we have to make even a small change in our design is when we use half-inch material, such as the piece welded at a 45 degree angle where the floor and sides come together. We make that bend with a press brake when we used anything less than half-inch Hardox. We would need a 600-ton press brake to do that with half-inch material. But even the thinner material springs back a lot. We have to bend it to 60 degrees to get it to stay at 45 degrees."
Beau-Roc recently introduced a dump body that splits the difference between standard and exotic steels. The JM-250 dump uses the moderate Hardox that has a Brinnell hardness rating of 250. With a yield strength of 100,000 psi, the steel will be used to make dump bodies targeted for light- and medium-duty service. Labreche sees these steels becoming increasingly popular.
"We just started using the 250-Brinnell steel," Labreche says. "It's ideal for customers who want the advantages of the higher-strength steels but who don't need 400 Brinnell. It is making sense for a lot of people because it is light and sturdy and a good price. "Meanwhile, the company is gearing up its new plant to meet demand. "Delivery time is down to four weeks," Labreche says. "The new plant is working well, and we believe we are achieving our goal of providing a top-of-the-line body in a reasonable time at a reasonable price using the best materials.