Carlow agricultural trailer manufacturing firm Broughan Engineering faced up to the collapse in the farm trailer business in Ireland by developing a high level of exports to the British market. By chance, this has brought new business from Scandinavia, with Swedish farmer, contractor and entrepreneur Jan-Ola Jonsson of Jonsson Farming. He spotted Broughan’s products at the LAMMA Show last January.
Jan-Ola was in the market for some new trailers for an idea he had to develop a trailer renting business in Sweden. He describes his business enterprises and how he came to buy Broughan trailers.
“My farm is located on the island of Gotland, and consists of 160ha of arable land and 125ha of forest land. We buy bull calves from local dairy farms and sell them at a slaughter weight around 330kg. We usually rear around 80 head,” he says.
“The farm is run by myself and a farm worker from Poland. My wife, Kristin, works in a hardware store, but helps out on the farm as much as she can. We do contract work, mostly round-baling and grass-mowing. There are three farms in this neighbourhood and we help each other out and co-own many machines,” he says.
“I do all the baling and own the mower together with my cousin who does all the mowing for me and another neighbouring farm. They, in turn, do all seed drilling for my cousin and I with their Vaderstad Rapide 4m drill.”
More recently, a significant part of the farm’s turnover came from selling farm machinery. Older, but still useful combines, ploughs, tractors, balers, etc, are exported from Sweden to Poland and Lithuania. They import used machinery, mostly from Britain, and it was there that Jan-Ola got the idea to buy trailers to rent to other farmers.
Trailers are cheaper to maintain than most machines and keep their value well. “I did research and found that there were over 30 manufacturers of trailers in Britain and Ireland, with just two in Sweden. Our Swedish kroner currency is strong compared with the euro and sterling and that has made it even more interesting to import trailers,” he says.
At this year’s LAMMA Show, Jan-Ola looked at many different trailer brands and found products by the family-run business Broughan Engineering to be good value. “I contacted them and went to Ireland to have a closer look and to discuss how a trailer could be made to suit Swedish needs.
‘‘Irish products and brands like Jameson Whiskey, Thin Lizzy and McHale balers are popular here in Sweden, so why not buy Broughan trailers?
“The Broughans were very friendly and helpful with ideas about the construction, which gave me a good feeling of reliability,” says Jan-Ola.
“We are not allowed to have 50km tractors, so we don’t have air brakes on our trailers. In Sweden, the total length of tractors and trailers is 24m and 25.25m, in some cases. The maximum weight allowed for a tractor with a trailer and a load is 60t,” according to Jan-Ola.
This allows Swedish farmers to tow trailers in tandem when transporting grain. These are mostly regular trailers with one or two turntable-type trailers after each other.
“For silage, some farms have started to have silage trailers in tandem to save time on the road, if the distance between farm and field is long,” say Jan-Ola.
We visited Broughan Engineering just before Jan-Ola’s trailers were shipped out. We found two 22ft x 8ft x 6ft grain and silage trailers ready for delivery in resplendent blue and yellow livery, the colours of the Swedish flag.
Both trailers are of a high specification, with added features for towing in tandem. These features include strengthened rear drawbars and faster push-pull hydraulic couplings with full hydraulics to allow both trailers’ hydraulic systems to be operated, not just the hydraulic brake.
Technically, both trailers could be tipped at the same time. This is unlikely to happen with both Broughan trailers hitched together as no tractor would have the hydraulic oil capacity to do this.
Instead, it allows a rear bogie-type trailer being towed by the Broughan to be ‘‘operated’’ and the long bogie drawbar would allow the front trailer to be facilitated without disconnecting, similar to how you see some cattle trucks and trailers operating.
Jan-Ola’s trailer specification includes swivel drawbars, 500/60-22.5 flotation tyres, a fold-down silage front and onboard toolbox.
Other specifications are standard Irish/British, with 10-stud commercial axles on heavy spring suspension, hydraulic rear door, grain chute, silage sides, twin lamps, plus side markings, and Perspex front.
One interesting feature of the latest Broughan trailers is the curved Perspex front, which is a new feature across the grain and silage trailer ranges. It provides the driver with a better view of the load, grass or grain, when filling on the move. The Perspex is over 10mm thick and well up to the task of containing grain and grass.
Both trailers arrived in Sweden in early July to begin work on Jan-Ola’s farm and as part of his trailer hire fleet. The Broughan trailers were numbered ‘‘1’’ and ‘‘2’’, so maybe there is some more business to be done between the two companies and countries into the future.
Broughan Engineering plans to expand
Broughan Engineering Ltd is located just outside Tullow, Co Carlow, and is owned by Patrick and Paul Broughan.
The trailer-making business was established 14 years ago with an engineering legacy started by their father Paddy Broughan 40 years ago.
Broughan Engineering Ltd manufactures a range of trailers, including grain/silage, cattle, bale, low loaders and dumpers. Trailers come with a standard tyre, but this can be upgraded. Tyres range from 400/65/22.5 to a 710/60/26.5 BKT flotation road maximum. All trailers are built on 10-stud commercial axles and commercial spring suspension.
Sales comprise 45% within Ireland and 55% to Britain, along with the new business venture to Sweden.
Paul Broughan says: “Due to the demand for Broughan trailers, we are planning to expand the size of the premises and double the workforce over the next two years.”
According to Paddy Broughan, approximately 120 trailers have been manufactured and delivered in the first six months of 2014.
“The business employs 13 full-time staff. We have added a new finishing shed and lifting gantry crane recently. The business has grown significantly in the past 12 months, with production expected to double in 2015,” says Paddy.