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April 27, 2016 00:00 CET Armox

Close relations to SSAB promotes safe solutions

Even though South African company BAT, Ballistic Armour Technologies, officially started in 1993 the founder and owner John Bradfield started designing and armouring vehicles a couple of years earlier.

Today BAT has a market leading position with customers not only all over the African continent but also in Europe.

“Our success is closely connected to our relation with SSAB”, says John Bradfield. “When we started using Armox it created new opportunities for us in all respects”.

It was in 1996 when John first met William Dinnes, Key Accounts Manager – Protect & Tooling at SSAB.

Upgraded with Armox

This meeting immediately resulted in an upgrade of the design and manufacturing processes at BAT.

“We got access to wider plates with so much better surface than the armour steel we used before”, John Bradfield explains. “On top of which SSAB offered splendid technical support and new logistic solutions that fit perfectly into our production process”.

Twenty successful years have passed and today BAT has approximately 60 employees working with the design, manufacture and assembly of a wide range of products within armour protection in vehicles. The program covers everything from monocoque bodies for C.I.T (Cash in Transit) to tailor-made kits for ordinary family cars.

”In all we have delivered more than 2,500 vehicles since we started”, says John Bradfield. “And we continue to grow. Last year was the best ever when we manufactured 200 vehicles for our customers”.

Strong cornerstones

John is convinced that the success of his company is based on two strong cornerstones:

“It is hard to explain how important the relation with SSAB is to us”, he says. “Our customers have high expectations on our products regarding quality, maintenance and support. SSAB delivers Armox which is the best steel plate for armoured vehicles in the world. It does not matter how demanding our applications might be, there is always an Armox or Ramor product which suits our needs. Quite often we need plates at short notice and even in that case we receive 100 percent support from SSAB. Most of the time plates are delivered within a few days of ordering – even faster when necessary”.

The second cornerstone is a result of the personal enthusiasm of John Bradfield.

“When we are contacted by new customers I always try to set up a meeting with the final user of the vehicle. It is very important to understand exactly what is needed as our goal is to exceed our customers’ expectations in every way”.

This principle pays off. Many BAT customers have been with the company since the 1990s. 

There are older vehicles still in daily usage, but often with a new chassis or mounted into new pickup truck.

Sustainable development

Sustainable development is a hot topic in most businesses and from this point of view the BAT armoured vehicles really live up to this.

“We have examples when customers have used the same kit from us in three cars. When a vehicle is worn out or so badly accident damaged cannot be repaired the customer comes to our workshop in Germiston South Africa where we refit the armour into the new vehicle”, says John Bradfield.

Even though the BAT armouring kits are 100 percent recyclable, most vehicle manufacturers have a major design change and upgrade at least every ten years rendering the older kits obsolete after the launch of the new OE vehicles.

“We use computer aided 3D design which enables us to combine the high demands on protection with the use of the original seats, dashboard, panels, etc. from the original vehicle”, says John Bradfield. “This is very important!”

BAT has several skilled laser cutters as suppliers. 

“This allows extremely efficient work”, according to John Bradfield. “As an example, a few days ago we had to design a new product and the customer was in an urgent situation. We sent the drawings to the laser cutter at 2 . They started the job when they opened at 7 and by 2 the plates were delivered to us. By close of business we had the completed item assembled, painted and ready for installation 7 the following morning”.

Proud and pleased

John Bradfield is very proud of what BAT has accomplished this far:

“I am sure that a big part of our success comes from the fact that we are all enthusiastic about what we do. When you burn for something you gain the strength to deliver way beyond your customers’ expectations. And we do – all the time”!