As a well-known premium brand in the Australian truck market, Meritor celebrates fifty years in Australia, supplying the trucking industry here since 1970.
It was back in 1969 that the decision was made by Rockwell and Industrial Engineering to establish a purpose-built drive axle manufacturing plant in Sunshine, Melbourne. Through a number of name changes and the ups and downs of the automotive industry in Australia, Meritor has continued to supply components upon which the trucking industry has relied.
Over the years, drive and steer axles have been supplied to Ford, Chrysler, Atkinson, International, White Motors, Leader, Volvo, Mack, Kenworth and Iveco. While the industry has changed significantly in this time and several of these names no longer exist in the Australian truck market, it’s a significant achievement that for over half a century the Sunshine facility has continued to produce axles, first under the Rockwell name, later as Arvin Meritor, and since 2011 under the Meritor name.
Among Meritor’s portfolio are tandem and tri-drive axles, steer axles, drivelines, air disc brakes, and drum brakes. Drive and steer axles are assembled in the Sunshine facility and supplied in sequence to the production lines of the local truck manufacturers.
Globally Meritor now employs over 8,000 people in 19 countries and the Sunshine facility is just one of 31 manufacturing sites around the globe. While Sunshine remains the base for the Australian axle operations today, since 2002 the company has also supplied an ever expanding range of aftermarket parts for both heavy duty trucks and trailers from its nearby 10,000m2 warehouse in Derrimut. This dedicated aftermarket facility also produces brake shoe kits riveted and assembled locally.
“We pride ourselves on quality, engineered solutions for our customers backed by that local service and support” said David Cole; Meritor Australia’s MD “Australian customer requirements and expectations are unique. Our drivetrain products need to be increasingly efficient and lighter to optimise payload while decreasing fuel use however our customers are also hauling heavier and heavier loads in some of the world’s toughest conditions. Having local engineering and manufacturing expertise has enabled Meritor to pull the appropriate technology from every global source to meet these needs of the Australian truck owner, while remaining reliable and cost effective”.
In the year it celebrates fifty years in Australia, Meritor is continuing to invest in local manufacturing expertise, recently adding the capability to build and balance drivelines in-house at the Sunshine facility. This sees the component manufacturer take further control of the reliability and quality of its driveline products.
The new build and balance process is now ramping towards full production and will streamline the process of preparing drivelines for truck production.
The imported driveshafts are cut, straightened, spun and balanced as a complete truck set to suit the lengths and specifications of the orders coming in from the truck makers. The equipment can correct any minor aberrations the testing identifies in the process. A vital new automated system also aligns the yokes, straightens the shaft and welds the sections in place. The final critical step is balancing, where the driveshaft is spun on a machine and any imbalance corrected with small weights till the driveline is within strict performance parameters. When the process is finished the driveline is ready to be fitted into a truck and handle the task without unnecessary vibration.
“As a global leader in drivetrain technology, this is an exciting time with the entire industry on the cusp of undergoing some dramatic changes driven by electrification” said David Cole. “The combination of a global product portfolio supported by our own local, technical and customer service has served us well for the past 50 years” he said. “While we understand the future is difficult to predict, we believe our pipeline of electric axles and drivetrain products, combined with recent strategic investments Meritor has made globally, has us well positioned to be here supporting the Australian industry for another 50 years.”