A NEW company with a new 175-million euro ($158-million) production plant is creating a big splash in the European truck trailer market. Even before the fully automated plant east of Rome, Italy, was completed, MerkerYshima SpA has been showing prototypes at transport shows in Verona and Parma, Italy; Lyon, France, and Kortrijk, Belgium. Production officially started 24 Sept 2001 in a 46,000-sq-meter (495,000-sq-ft) factory on a 27-hectare (42-acre) site.
An unusual aspect of the Merker trailer is use of Renault VI components in its axle assemblies and braking systems, such as disks, calipers, pads, bearings, hubs, air bags, shock absorbers, and ABS/EBS units. Following braking compatibility tests supervised by Renault VI with various tractor-semitrailer combinations, Renault VI and MerkerYshima “guarantee their customers optimum compatibility between the tractor and semitrailer.”
Merker's policy of external growth has resulted in the acquisition of Capperi, and Italian heavy trailer manufacturer, now MerkerCapperi, and OMT, which dominates the Italian tanker market. In France, Merker acquired Carrosserie Industrielle Roannaise (CIR) and will expand that operation with a 12-million euro ($11-million) investment.
Merker's highly automated plant in Italy has the capacity to make it one of the largest trailer manufacturers in Europe. The frame welding operation is performed by robots that can travel more than 13 meters (43 feet) and can weld all types of chassis frames in steel and aluminum. Surface treatment is provided by two automated shot-blasting lines.
Pretreatment is by immersion in several stages of degreasing and zinc phosphate treatment of steel frames and chromalisation of aluminum alloy chassis. This is followed by electrophoresis anticorrosion treatment and robotized painting with water-soluble enamels. The assembly area has four parallel production lines where axles are fitted and curtainsides or other bodies are added.
The Merker product range includes bodies for trucks, trailers and semitrailers, such as platforms, stake bodies, curtainsiders, cable reel carriers, container chassis, dump bodies, drop-floor platforms, and expandable bodies.
Other trailer manufacturers in Europe are worried about the huge capacity of the new company and its published policy of “optimisation of the price/quality ratio”. MerkerYshima SpA, Via Tiburtina Valeria km 193.06, I-65028 Tocca da Casauria, Italy.