Sovereign Design shows that not all trays are identical – it’s just a matter of thinking through the problem to achieve a better outcome.
The ever-growing popularity of utes shows little sign of reducing for 2014. But while sales are growing in all states, there can be a tendency for short cuts to be made, especially in an effort to reduce the visual impact of the initial purchase price.
It’s hard to sell a concept to a group of buyers that might not have any great in-depth knowledge about how specific bodywork can be tailored to suit an application. For many ute and cab/chassis buyers the construction of the tray or box body is mainly left to the supplying dealer, or the manufacturer of the vehicle itself.
While the “one style fits all” aspect of tray design works for most buyers, those that take the time to delve into what’s available, and then compare the products on offer with the task ahead, will find there are definite advantages for indulging in a little industry investigation.
Sovereign Design is a Gold Coast based specialist designer and manufacturer of bodywork solutions. That’s a description that we apply to companies that show the depth of their understanding of what lies ahead for the vehicle, rather than just looking the part on a dealer forecourt.
For those considering purchasing a tray for a ute, we’ll start with the easy bits first. Those carrying cardboard boxes with more volume than weight can be quite content with an alloy floored tray, with perhaps alloy drop-sides to match. The body should easily cope with the transport task without suffering from undue abuse.
What, though, of the courier carrying heavy machinery? In place of the alloy floor there’ll be a need for something much more durable, such as a solid steel plate. This will cope with the added weight of the load, but also resist dents and scratches that a heavy piece of machinery can inflict on a tray deck.
There’s also a third influencing factor, and that concerns those owners that carry their dog or dogs in the tray, either during work or for the occasional commute along the highway. High summer temperatures can soon result in the tray being hot enough to fry an egg on a bright summer’s day. Not so much fun for the Blue Heeler or Kelpie that has to hop on board. It’s for times like these that a wooden floor is the way to go.
That’s where Sovereign Design shows its abilities and experience. For the past few years the company has been expanding its Sovereign Design aftermarket brand, catering as a service provider for fleet operators and to provide a complete fit-out service to customers wanting much more than a standard tray.
Henri Baumann of Sovereign Design told Delivery Magazine the backbone of its service is the company’s design/engineering capabilities and its “Australian Made” manufacturing.
“We can design and produce custom build features on short lead times,” said Henri.
“We do vehicle fit-outs that meet all Mine-Spec/BMA requirements. Our services are being utilised by some of the large fleet rental organisations, and our products are also used by other fleet solution providers catering for regional requirements.
“All our products are designed and certified to meet relevant ADR regulations and are covered with our manufacturer warranty. Our full tray range is locally produced using local raw material. We purchase all our aluminium extrusion from a Brisbane-based extrusion plant. Most of those extrusions are our proprietary sections,” Henri added.
“For years our team developed and manufactured products under the Bocar trading name as “Genuine OE Accessories” for the local car and truck industry.
“We started to design and produce a “Genuine Sovereign” welded heavy-duty steel tray to meet a requirement for the demanding mining industry. The product brief was clear – we needed to provide a solution that was superior over the mass produced “factory solutions”.
“The design had to be superior in strength and safety and sufficiently practical to withstand the daily punishment contractors put their vehicles through in the harshest environments.
“Benchmarking against main players in the industry was done and our design concept evaluated with extensive computer modelling by third-party engineering specialists and a leading university. The outcome of all this upfront engineering work gave us our solution for an “Engineer Certified ROPS (Roll Over Protection System) tray”.
“With the increasing popularity of our neat, aesthetically pleasing, welded heavy-duty tray design, we received requests to retain the basic design approach, but add a variety of product alternatives. This resulted in the creation of a lower cost tray option, by producing the tray from pre-coated high tensile galvanised “Gal” material stock,” added Henri.
Some customers required a lower weight alternative for a tray in a heavy-duty aluminium material, while others preferred a conventional aluminium tray in a heavy-duty option, using an identical headboard and rope-rail design and also using the identical heavy-duty hardware, like hinges and spring-loaded over-centre toggle latches.
This tray option is Sovereign’s lowest weight and cost option and is built to the same proven modular design features as the heavy-duty steel tray, but with a 30 percent weight saving and no cost penalty. It includes identical design features to the other Sovereign designs, with 76 mm diameter headboard pipe and a full-length rope rail, and is suitable to fit most of the other standard “add-on” options.
In addition to providing rollover protection systems (ROPS), Sovereign Design can add integral toolboxes with slide out trays and drawers. When not required these drawers can roll away and store beneath the centre of the tray following the width of the longitudinal chassis rails. They can also be mounted to slide out to either side of the tray and body, forming part of the integral toolbox design. This feature adds to the versatility of the tray for a tradesman using the vehicle as a workbench.
As well as side steps and front bumper guards, Sovereign has a range of additional accessories such as aerodynamically profiled top bars for mounting extra driving lamps above the cabin roof.
Hopefully, the options described by our conversation with Sovereign will serve as a thought starter for buyers of utes who also require a tray or purpose-built body. Putting some effort into the design of the bodywork can make your day a lot easier and provide a higher resale value when it comes to vehicle exchange.