Unlocking innovation through collaboration


Universal Plywoods (UP) has added four Serco-built curtainsider trucks to its fleet after testing a prototype and being highly impressed with the results.

UP and Serco enjoy a fruitful 12-year partnership which started following product testing and collaborative design consultations between the companies’ technical teams which resulted in Serco’s selection of UPM’s WISA-coated birch plywood for flooring in its vehicles.

CEO of Serco Clinton Holcroft said the coated birch floor in the 5,4m-long curtainsiders (or tautliners) offered a weight reduction of 242kg in each of the vehicles compared to a conventional steel deck.

Both Serco and UP place a high value on quality workmanship and professional service. Says Holcroft: Using quality and state-of-the-art materials are vital to ensuring the longevity of our truck bodies and trailers. “Our core purpose is giving transporters the edge in their fields. We do that through innovation, leading in quality and service as well as relying on partners such as UP to make it happen,” he said. “Using reliable and durable materials are key to providing the lowest possible life cycle costs for the vehicles, even if it means a higher upfront investment. We won’t compromise by using inferior parts, as building durable products is key to delivering improved longevity and lower running costs over the life of the vehicle,” he said.

Serco and UP have developed a healthy business relationship over the past 12 years with the collaboration allowing Serco to deliver differentiated and durable transport solutions built on their principles of quality, sustainability and innovation.

Universal is a bulk stockist and distributor of plywood and other types of engineered wood products for the construction, transport, marine and furniture industries, among others.

Serco-built truck and trailer bodies – a common sight on South African roads – range from small delivery vehicles to large semi-trailers used for shipping refrigerated and dry goods.

The company has manufacturing and after sales repair facilities in Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Gqeberha.

Patrick Hansen of Universal Plywoods said they were proud to be in partnership with Serco. “Over the years the partnership has progressed into a mutually beneficial relationship where trust and communication play an important role.”

A tautliner is a generic name for a curtain-sided type of truck or trailer used to carry a variety of dry goods. The easy access for loading from the side and even from the rear make this a versatile and distribution vehicle. Serco also offers an option for a fast-opening system that reduces the time to load and unload by up to 50%.

The curtainsider vehicle is a relatively new addition to Serco’s product line and is backed by Serco’s reputation for quality and national after sales service support.