Like many companies involved in supplying recreational equipment AL-KO International are benefitting from the travel restrictions that are seeing Australians holidaying and staying in their own backyards. Sales of RVs and associated products have skyrocketed this year and AL-KO are riding that resurgence and the resultant interest in getting out on the road and exploring new destinations.
The company manufactures, markets, and distributes a comprehensive range of products for the trailer, caravan and RV markets in Australia and New Zealand. It is best known for its high-quality running gear range which includes axles, brakes, and suspension products. In addition, AL-KO offers a wide range of accessories, as well as supplying suspension and carriage components to various motorhome and caravan chassis manufacturers.
Look under any of the leading RV, caravan and off-road camper trailer brands and chances are that AL-KO parts will be fitted.
The company has a long and proud history in Australia spanning back to 1946, when Hornby Engineering was founded and started to produce axles in South Melbourne; in 1988 the German AL-KO Kober Group acquired the company.
Strong growth and sales over the past decade have been driven by product range expansion and innovation that has further enhanced its position as the market leader in its field. The company has also acquired several other companies in complementary fields that has seen total employee numbers rise to around 250 across multiple sites.
Keen to support other Australian industries, the company uses BHP steel and where possible sources parts from other local suppliers; for example the brake drums are cast in South Australia and machined locally in Melbourne.
Dimac has had a long association with AL-KO and is the primary supplier of their CNC power chucks and Dimac’s own Australian made soft jaws.
“Dimac understand our products and the markets we service. As the Australian distributor of Kitagawa and other leading brands, they have good relationships with these manufacturers whose products we use,” said AL-KO Production Manager, Rohan Griss.
“When we have a special requirement such as the need for extra power and specialist tooling is where our association with Dimac comes into its own, and we call upon their expertise and problem-solving ability,” Mr Griss added.
A recent example of using Dimac’s expertise to solve a problem, related to the need for a workholding solution for a new forged stub component that could not be held with existing set-ups. The forged stub was for the innovative ‘Enduro-X’ trailing arm suspension.
“We consulted with Dimac in relation to this issue and they came back with a couple of design options for a customised work holding solution.
After detailed analysis, we selected one of the bespoke designs and after thorough testing confirmed this option which incorporated Dimac soft jaws and a Kitagawa finger chuck was indeed the best solution,” Mr Griss added.
“The other crucial element of any project like this is ensuring the product is delivered on time. Whilst the pandemic caused unavoidable delays, Dimac kept to their side of the deal and delivered the unit exactly on the day it was due. I was very impressed with that level of service and the workholder is performing just as intended,” Mr Griss added.
“We also entrust Dimac for all our maintenance needs and servicing of our power chucks at their service centre in Melbourne. Given the specialised nature of these chucks, it requires a company with the operator expertise, special tools and OEM seals to ensure the work is completed to the highest standards,” Mr Griss went on to say.
In addition to the RV market, AL-KO also produce specialised axles for trailers for a diverse range of agricultural machinery such as transporting combine harvester headers and suspension and running gear for lighting and access towers.