Category: News


GRW takes South Africa to Europe

Immensely Proudly South Africa. That’s what I felt when I visited this year’s IAA Commercical Vehicle show in Hannover, Germany and saw – in among the thousands of products exhibited – a South African built builk silo tipper with GRW’s logo on the side. This is the first time in the history of the IAA show that a South African manufactured tanker has been exhibited at Europe’s prime truck show. In all honesty, it was an emotional moment for me writed Patrick O’Leary.

GRW - Featured in FleetWatch

GRW - Featured in FleetWatch

GRW - Featured in FleetWatch

Original Article: FleetWatch (, page 18, 19 & 20)



In for the long run

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Executive Board reported that South Africa has broad-based potential to boost growth significantly, aided by deep and liquid financial markets, a solid domestic investor base, a floating exchange rate, and limited susceptibility to exchange rate risk. However, significant vulnerabilities arise from fiscal risks related to weak and poorly managed state-owned enterprises and other spending pressures.

This economic assessment follows low consumer and business confidence where per-capita growth has turned negative, with a poverty rate standing at 40 per cent and income equality pegged as one of the highest globally.

To contrast these indicators, South Africa’s manufacturing production actually rose year-on-year in May 2018 by 2.3 per cent, according to Trading Economics, marking the biggest gain in industrial output in four months amid rises in motor vehicles, parts, accessories and other transport equipment (9.9 per cent compared to 1.5 per cent).

Embracing technical innovation, globally renowned OEM, GRW, has its proverbial finger on the pulse – developing state-of-the-art road transport equipment, championing automation processes, while paying close attention to industry trends including the booming market for alternative fuels and battery-operated vehicles.

Here is a progressive engineering company on the move, a dynamic innovative manufacturer that looks to the future.

Gerhard van der Merwe, GRW CEO, confirms that the manufacturer is striving to significantly reduce lead times, from order to delivery, of its tanker builds throughout Europe. “Where European manufacturers can typically take a year or more to deliver custom spec’d tankers, GRW aims to do the same, but in the space of about three months,” he says – adding that the OEM will be presenting its 60m3 Tipping Silo Tanker at IAA. “The Silo Tanker will be used for food-grade applications and is fitted with an anti-corrosion stainless steel discharge bowl, ladder and handrails as well as a spacious steel storage cabinet and BPW axles. It also has a hydraulic pump for tipping and mobile offloading.”

The tanker on show also features remote pressure relief and additional add-ons including hydraulic stabilising landing legs for optimal operator safety.
While GRW has established a presence in Sub-Sahara Africa, van der Merwe says that exhibiting at the commercial vehicle show, IAA, opens up new opportunities for fleet operators across Germany and Eastern Europe to trial and invest in durable, functional and reliable tankers and semi-trailers built with automated precision.

“GRW serves various industrial sectors including construction and mining, petroleum and chemical, and designs trailing equipment optimised for carting fast-moving consumer goods, temperature-controlled products, palletised goods and break bulk general cargo,” he says. “All these trailers service the operational requirements of operators across South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa as well as the Middle East, Australia, the UK and Europe.”

While the IMF is optimistic about South Africa’s economy, especially with the recent political transition offering renewed opportunities to advance reforms to promote jobs and growth, GRW is poised to point its country in the right direction, taking the lead with world-class trailing equipment manufacturing.

Fast Fact
GRW, based in Worcester, South Africa, partnered with German OEM, Schmitz Cargobull, in August 2017 to diversify its portfolio, developing and assembling new refrigerated semi-trailers and box bodies. “Our philosophy is to offer the best in class,” says GRW CEO, Gerhard van der Merwe. “That’s why we approached Schmitz Cargobull – because in our eyes they produce the best trailers in the world: a perfect partnership.”

Source: Global Trailer (link to original:


Tipping Silos from the tip of Africa

During August I have been in active communication with Mr (Justin Wolf of GRW GmbH regarding the possibility of cooperation in supplying us with tipping silo semi trailers. Although I was honestly very skeptical about the fact that the idea is to supply us trailers produced in South Africa, I remembered how I was initially greeted with doubt when I offered our transport services to major corporate clients. We knew that we can offer quality transport services equal or better than any of the established competitors on the market,but there was a reluctance as we were a new supplier on the market, and we came from European area that is not well known for silo transporters.

Mr Wolf has done his homework and brought in the EU (German) flavor by informing me that his company is already in cooperation with renowned Schmitz Cargobull which has in July 2017 acquired 33% of GRW shares in South Africa. My final doubtfulness was dissipated by his convinced call : “Come and see!”

I honestly do not know what was I expecting to see in 20 Abattoir Street, Worcester, South Africa, but I certainly did not expect to see a sophisticated transport equipment manufacturer based on the southernmost point of the planet. The company is set in industrial area of Worcester ,town of cca 100.000 residents situated 120km north-east of Cape Town surrounded by magnificent Stettyns and Du Toitskloof mountains and is on par with any European factory that I have seen. The hospitable and competent staff was at my disposal the whole time providing me with in debt access to their organization.

My first surprise was that everybody spoke English in addition to Afrikaans which is a Boer version of Dutch language. The second was meticulous attention to details as I have seen Kanbaan and strict safety rules introduced on the production floor.

GRW Engineering

And there were more surprises on this floor, as I have expected extensive use of manual labor. This was not the case. I was present during the process of welding of chassis beams which was performed by 2 (two!) workers, one spot welder and one crane operator. Their job was to prepare the beam for a robot which, after taking the bearings of the beam, continued the aluminum welding process in accordance to its program. The trailer was being fitted with all usual equipment already such as BPW axles, Wabco brakes, Hyva hydraulics…

GRW Engineering

During the evening I was attending a Braai and had a chance to speak with managing partners , Wentzel and Gerhard van der Merwe , Rossouw van Eden and their top managers which are all over a decade (some almost 2 decades ) in the company. During our talk over some local wine I felt determination in them that was reminiscent to our company’s meetings , especially those that happened in advance of groundbreaking events.

GRW Engineering

I have felt the need to share my expiriences regarding my visit to South Africa as I was already approached by some transporters. The trailer that I observed in production will be shown this year IAA in Hannover so it could be additional confirmation of my observations. What is definite is that the old rules are changing and that new competitors are arising, from the most unexpected places , whether it is Serbia or South Africa.

The lions are awake, hear them roar!


Srdjan Zekovic


Return of the bull

GRW Trailers launched the next generation of its tautliner trailer series, the Inkabi 2.0, at a packed-out function at its Boksburg premises last night.

Inkabi is Zulu for bull, and symbolises the strength of the curtainsider, says GRW CEO, Gerhard van der Merwe.

The Inkabi 2.0 builds on experience gained with the original version, launched in March 2015, and features many advanced design elements from GRW’s new partner, German trailer manufacturer Schmitz Cargobull (SCB).

Key among these is the use of the SCB bolted technology. Instead of welding, the assembly of the entire chassis and all other functional components is bolted. What makes the SCB bolt unique is that its splined section shears through both bolting surfaces, which means there is no need to secure the bolt head during fastening. The hole diameters have a very small tolerance ensuring accuracy and a tight fit, and the bolted assemblies offer superior fatigue life over welded assemblies.

According to Van der Merwe, this bolting technology will be applied across the GRW product range as it allows for dissimilar materials to be joined. This speaks to a key component of the Inkabi 2.0’s design, its modularity.

“Modularity allows for scale-ability – these bolted structures can be economically assembled in other locations. Modularity with bolted technology also ensures accuracy. All of the components are manufactured in high-precision jigs and welded robotically,” Van der Merwe states.

There are many other enhancements, which make the Inkabi 2.0 bigger and better. Among these are the load strap winch, which is a bolted, galvanised assembly that is easily replaceable when damaged. The wall sections of the bulkheads are made from anodised aluminium sandwich extrusions, offering superior strength and corrosion resistance, says Van der Merwe.

The GRW roof structure remains the same, except for an adjustable mounting interface with the bulkheads offering height-adjustable roofs for fixed roofs. An optional lifting roof is available.

The Birch plywood floor, a controversial design feature of the first Inkabi generation, has proved its durability and received positive responses from clients, says Van der Merwe. It therefore remains, except now as 27-mm boards instead of 18.

“The board orientation has changed from longitudinal between the chassis rails to perpendicular over the chassis rails. This allowed for the removal of a top hat section that covered the main beams and the result of this is that the deck is uninterrupted and 100-percent flat,” Van der Merwe explains.

Various models of the Inkabi 2.0 will be available: 6/12, 6/12 high volume and 7/11 configurations. Customers have a range of spec options from which to choose, these include: An overhead load-securing system for easy securing of high loads; Hazchem specification; rear doors and interleading doors for through loading; and a GRW-designed adjustable racking system.

The braking system on all models is Wabco EBS with BPW drum and disc brakes, SAF intra-drum and discs brakes or GRW Propar drum brakes.

“The best word to describe the Inkabi 2 compared to Inkabi 1 is ‘more’,” says Van der Merwe. “More payload, more options, more money in your pocket, more piece of mind, more aftersales and service offerings,” he concludes.

Article and photo credit: Focus July 2018


GRW Newsletter June 2018

Take the bull by the horns: win an Inkabi

Customers (existing and prospective) are invited to seize the opportunity to win a GRW Inkabi Tautliner Trailer. All confirmed orders that have been placed since 1 May 2018 and up to Thursday 5 July 2018 will be entered into a lucky draw: one entry per Inkabi ordered.
Read More…


Farming for new customers

After a successful venture to the Nampo Harvest Day in 2017, GRW returned this year to the exhibition, which took place from 15 to 18 May 2018 in Bothaville, Free State.
Read More…


Tipping the winner

GRW’s product basket continues to grow! The latest development to enter the market is the Side Tipper trailer combination. A prototype has been operational in a challenging environment for the last two years. Its performance has outstripped expectations.
Read More…


Meet Nathan Reeder

In his capacity of Key Account Manager, Nathan is responsible for sourcing new business for GRW, and ensuring that existing customers’ needs are met. He considers honesty and reliability as two aspects of his character that bolster his goal to exceed the company’s and customers’ expectations.
Read More…



GRW has once again shown that South Africa companies can reach the highest levels of excellence on the global stage – and this time the proof is given not via another export success story but rather via a buy-in into the company by Europe’s largest and most renowned trailer manufacturer writes Patrick O’Leary.

It is not often in the manufacturing sector that you hear of an overseas company investing into a local, home-grown South African organisation. Yet this is exactly what has happened with Schmitz Cargobull AG acquiring 33% of the shares in Worcester-based GRW Holdings (Pty) Ltd effective from August 1, 2017.

This development marks a huge milestone in the progress of GRW onto the world stage and pays high tribute to the ability of South Africans to engineer and design products that serve to attract the best in the world. In short, it stands as a huge accolade not only to GRW but also to South Africa’s manufacturing capabilities.

On this point, it was earlier this year that GRW was featured as the cover story on the internationally respected ‘Global Trailer’ magazine. The story was headed “A New Narrative’ and essentially highlighted GRW as a company which has bucked the trend of perceptions of Africa being a continent only of poverty, famine and disasters.

The article quoted from a TED speech given by Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, where she pointed out that clichés about poverty, famine and disasters dominated mainstream reporting and, as a result, the public’s understanding of Africa. There was rarely a rounded, balanced or nuanced approach, she said, laying bare a conflict that is still impacting almost every aspect of life on the 54-nation continent today – including trailer manufacturing.

This was put to Gerard van der Merwe, CEO of GRW, who agreed saying in the article that: “We find a lot of negativity towards Africa when dealing with foreign people. While we are a proudly African business, we are often perceived as a Third World company, which we are certainly not. People often don’t realise how professional we are until they come visit us and see what we are all about. We see ourselves as a global competitor manufacturing in Africa. We compete with the very best in the world, which in turn gives us an advantage in the local and African market – not the other way around.”

Apart from this latest Schmitz Cargobull deal, GRW’s local success across Southern African markets, we well as its success in the wider global markets such as in the Middle East, Australia and the UK – among others – tends to give muscle to Van der Merwe’s words that GRW “competes with the very best in to world”.

The story behind the Schmitz Cargobull development goes back to when GRW started manufacturing refrigerated semi-trailers for the local market as part of its diversity plan to grow beyond its traditional tanker offerings. The first refrigerated semi-trailer was launched at the Johannesburg Motor Show in 2011 and immediately caught the attention of the market.

GRW started its reefer operations with imported panels from CIMC Vehicles, part of the China International Marine Containers Group. It was later that CIMC bought Top Trailers in South Africa and in so doing, in effect became an opposition to GRW which was an untenable situation.

 It was thus that in 2015, Van der Merwe went to visit the Schmitz Cargobull operations in Europe given that the company was widely recognised as a global leader in the manufacture of refrigerated bodies. Their advanced technology such as Ferroplast® panel technology is the market leader across all of Europe. Ferroplast bodies combine the increased insulation properties of NX-17 polyurethane hard foam with durable steel skins giving advantages such as:

  • No water ingress into the panels meaning no weight gain over time.
  • Low heat storage capacity meaning faster pull-down times.
  • Age resistant steel covering skins never get brittle.
  • Easy repairs meaning low cost and more uptime

What also impressed was the company’s development of bolted technology for the chassis as opposed to welding. This may sound pretty simple but it represents a break-through in chassis design using a modular system along with specially designed bolts to give the chassis strength where it is most needed according to the load situation.

All this will come later but what was most important is that GRW and Schmitz Cargobull found they shared the same overall values in terms of quality, an accent on engineering expertise and an uncompromising focus on customer care.

“We found we had so much in common and it made sense that instead of going forward under a supplier/customer relationship, we should link hands,” says Van der Merwe.

It was thus at the beginning of 2016 that the Chief Executive Officer of Schmitz Cargobull AG, Andreas Schmitz, visited GRW’s Worcester manufacturing plant – and was seriously impressed. As Van der Merwe has stated: “People often don’t realise how professional we are until they come visit us and see what we are all about.”

Well, that visit led to Schmitz Cargobull AG deciding to put forward a 33% investment proposal which was accepted by GRW. So the deal is now done and it’s all systems go with multiple benefits for both companies.

For GRW, not only does it give the company access to all the latest technology coming out of Europe, but it also opens up markets through Schmitz Cargobull’s extensive network in Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia where the company has some 440 sales points. Schmitz Cargobull, by the way, produces 59 000 trailers per year. This is as opposed to GRW’s current 1 400 per year which, Van der Merwe says, they plan to up to 3 000 per year within a three year time span. He also hinted at the building of another manufacturing plant in the Gauteng area.

For Schmitz Cargobull, it will open the tanker market for them in Europe as the company does not manufacture tankers. GRW does and its quality is globally accepted as being among the best. Then again, GRW does not make tippers whereas Schmitz Cargobull does. It is obvious that there are enormous synergies and multiple benefits to both companies.

Something customers will warm to is that being part of the large Schmitz Cargobull group will give GRW some price advantages due to the huge purchasing power of its European partner. Consider this: The company produces one completed reefer every 15 minutes on its European production line. That’s huge volumes.

Apart from the business advantages for both companies, what this deal also does is it acts as an example of how South Africa can elevate itself onto a new platform of global strength moving away from our traditional reliance on commodities for our economic growth.

It was only recently that, speaking at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Industrialisation Week conference held in Johannesburg, SADC regional standardisation president, Dr Eva Gadzikwa, said the SADC region must diversify away from its reliance on commodities for economic growth and prioritise industrial development. “Industrialisation can contribute to transformation in the agriculture, trade, transport and other sectors and is key for economic development,” she said.

GRW is a step ahead on her urgings and is leading the charge.



GRW exhibited for the first time at the Nampo Harvest Day agricultural show. The show has been an annual event for more than than fifty years and was held from 16 to 19 May 2017 in Bothaville, Free State.

The agricultural show features more than 700 exhibitors in all aspects of agriculture from both local and numerous international producers and manufacturers.

Showcasing the new refrigerated trailer utilising German Thermo Technology from Schmitz CargoBull, alongside the Inkabi Maximizer Flexdeck Tautliner, and the lightweight corrosion-resistant aluminium auger bulk feeder; the GRW stand attracted a great deal of interest.

collage nampo 

Meanwhile . . . on the other side of the world


GRW exhibited a fuel tanker specifically designed for Australian road conditions at the Brisbane Truck Show held from 25 to 28 May 2017. Regarded as the premier event of its kind in Australia and held biennially, the trade show attracts more than 300 exhibitors and up to 40 000 visitors over four days.

There has been a very positive response to the fuel tanker from the highly-contested Australian market, and GRW sees this as an exciting opportunity to pursue sales, and to introduce a wider range of GRW’s innovative products into this market.



Schmitz Cargobull invest in GRW

Schmitz Cargobull AG, Europe’s leading trailer manufacturer, is acquiring 33% of the shares in GRW Holdings (Pty) Ltd. The relationship was initiated in January 2016, where after Schmitz Cargobull partnered with GRW in the development and assembly of new refrigerated trailers and box bodies for the South African market. From the outset both companies have complemented each other through similar core values and a shared philosophy to produce best-in-class products.

GRW, a market leader delivering premium quality tankers and trailers into the Sub-Saharan market, is proud to announce that, through its partnership with Schmitz Cargobull, it will be incorporating the current best German technology into its fast-growing reefer and curtain sider product ranges. In addition to the Schmitz Ferroplast insulated reefer boxes that are already available to its customers, GRW are able to offer a range of premium quality products including Schmitz Cooling units with intelligent temperature control and remote diagnostics; and Schmitz Telematics, one of the most reliable and integrated, yet open, telematics systems available.

Global footprints, and complementary product ranges, have brought synergies that will benefit both companies in the future. Schmitz Cargobull’s presence in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia gives GRW an ideal platform to expand its tanker markets, while local GRW products will benefit from Schmitz’s modular component systems.

The transaction is pending the conclusion of the Competition Commission’s approval, and will be effective 1 August 2017. The operational management of GRW under the leadership of current CEO, Gerhard van der Merwe, will remain unchanged.


Expert expects tanker market reshuffle

Credit: Trailer Interview March 2017

After a lengthy period of lacklustre growth, Australia’s highly contested transport equipment market is on the road to recovery.
Backing up a strong finish to 2016, the Truck Industry Council (TIC) reported solid growth for both January and February, making for the best start of a year in almost a decade.
“Even though it may take another month or two to see just how healthy the market is, the stage is set for a positive market development going into the final quarter of 2016-17,” explained CRTNews expert, Peter Shields.
“If heavy truck sales continue to stabilise, the recovery should also trickle down to trailer building, a segment which doesn’t report official sales data.”
Spurred by the launch of a new Kenworth model in December 2016 and the imminent return of the International brand, Shields said the overall market is currently more buoyant than it was in a long time, but added, “we will likely see winners and losers emerge after a busy Q2 and Q3”.
“With International coming to market and Hyundai’s announcement of a Korean-made heavy-duty model, the question is whether the new kids on the block will contribute to growing the overall market or whether they will take market share from incumbent brands,” he explained.
“CAT Trucks will likely be the most prominent victim, but Western Star is also under pressure. The market has changed and customers are more demanding than ever before – only the most innovative will survive.”
Shields added he sees “a lot of competition brewing” on the trailer front, especially in the tanker category, which was shaken by the failure and subsequent re-emergence of the Tieman brand last year.
“I think both CIMC and Schmitz Cargobull have proven that there is a business case for well-engineered equipment from overseas, even in a very localised and brand-loyal marketplace.
“Tanker design is becoming increasingly sophisticated, which is why I see potential for a similar development here.”
According to Shields, South African manufacturer, GRW, is one likely candidate to break into the Australian market in 2017. “The company has had a bit of a soft launch at the 2016 Melbourne Truck Show with a really well designed aluminium model, so I assume we haven’t seen the last of it.”
Shields: “Distracted by the double-dissolution election last year and the political vacuum that followed, people forget how much innovation was on show in Melbourne.
“The GRW product certainly was a standout to me. With the market picking up, I can see more opportunities for the brand here as people are looking for smart equipment at a reasonable price point. That’s also why Hyundai is so optimistic, and why Hino will have a good run with the new 500 series in the rigid space.
“As such, 2017 could see the first big market reshuffle in a long time across all categories – with tankers one likely target.”


A New Narrative

It was with more than a pinch of sarcasm that award-winning Kenyan journalist Binyavanga Wainaina suggested to always use keywords such as darkness or safari in the title when reporting on the African continent. His 2005 essay, How to Write about Africa, openly criticised the repeated use of stereotypes in mainstream media when dealing with Africa and inspired a widely acclaimed 2009 TED talk by Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, which has since accumulated some 11 million views… Read More

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