Customer story

Thompsons reduces tipper weight while increasing payload capacity with Hardox® wear steel

The last few years has seen Thompsons become a true market leader in the UK. One of the explanations for this is its tipper bodies made of both Hardox® 500 Tuf and Strenx® 900MC steel, which have reduced tipper body weight by up to 500 kilos. This in turn has meant that customers have received tippers with increased load capacity.

Thompsons Group is a family-run company and was founded in London in 1971. Since then, the business has grown significantly. Today, Thompsons Group has factories in Croydon, Dover and Blackburn as well as in Edinburgh in Scotland – and is one of the UK’s largest and most successful tipper bodybuilders.

“We have designed our tipper bodies around what our customers are asking for. There is always a focus on building light with good payload capacity – without sacrificing the strength in the tipper bodies,” says Scott Burton, Sales Manager and Joint Managing Director of the business.

The solution to their long term customers' wishes are tipper bodies made of Hardox® 500 Tuf wear plate.

“Through the use of Hardox 500 Tuf we are able to reduce the weight of the tipper bodies and at the same time give them better payload capacity.”

Why less means more

Every year, around 1,300 of these tipper bodies are built at Thompsons’ factories. The floor and sides of the tipper bodies are made of Hardox® 500 Tuf wear plate and the top rails and longitudinal runner of the tipper bodies are made of Strenx® 900MC steel. All of this together can reduce the tipper body weight by around 500 kilos.

“We previously used 4 mm Strenx 700 in the top rails and the runner under the floor, but more recently we have been trialing 3 mm Strenx 900MC. This has allowed us to take out a quarter of the weight and actually get an improved lifespan,” says Neil Griffin, Engineering Director at Thompsons Group.

Neil Griffin explains that a few years ago, Thompsons upgraded from Hardox® 450 to Hardox® 500 Tuf.

“Since upgrading, we have achieved better performance all round. Hardox 500 Tuf allows us to take out 20 percent of the weight without compromising on any part of the lifespan of the product. At the same time, we can press it and weld it in the same manner as we did previously.”

“The services and technical support we see from SSAB are fantastic, and we are constantly being consulted and kept in the loop in terms of new products that are coming on line. That gives us the ability to improve our own products.”

Scott Burton, Sales Manager and Joint Managing Director of Thompsons Group

Good for end customer as well

Reducing the weight and thickness of the steel is just one option when upgrading from Hardox® 450 to Hardox® 500 Tuf. The other option is to keep the same thickness and instead increase the lifetime of the tipper by 40 percent.

“These savings are considerable for our customers because they can either get more payload in without sacrificing any strength at all in the body, or they can increase service life and keep the weight. We stock all thicknesses of Hardox 500 Tuf and can therefore mix and match to suit the customers' needs,” says Neil Griffin.

Long-time collaboration with SSAB

Thompsons Group has been a customer of SSAB since the early 1990s. The explanation for the almost 40-year collaboration is down to their close working relationship, according to Scott Burton.

“SSAB has been one of our principal suppliers for a number of decades now. The services and technical support we see from them are fantastic, and we are constantly being consulted and kept in the loop in terms of new products that are coming on line. That gives us the ability to improve our own products. We work together hand-in-hand which means a real partnership,” he says.

Engineering Director Neil Griffin highlights the constant availability of steel and in particular, how the collaboration worked out in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, when steel was in very short supply across the whole of Europe.

“It's fair to say that SSAB really looks after us as a valued customer. We never ran out of steel, we never even started to worry about running out of steel. They ensured that everything we asked for was available in a few days. That was a godsend for our purchasing department, because if we don't have steel, we can't build anything.”

Start using SSAB Zero™ steel

Thompsons Group and their bigger customers take sustainability work very seriously. Together, they agree that they must do their utmost to reduce their carbon footprint in partnership with SSAB.

“Our upgrade in reducing thickness allows us to use less steel which means less fossil fuels. That is obviously good for the planet. But what’s more important is which type of power is used to produce the steel. Historically, the steel we have been using is made with fossil fuels and is not environmentally friendly. SSAB is now thankfully investing a lot of money in launching the world's first fossil-free steel,” says Neil Griffin.

SSAB and Thompsons are taking their partnership to the next level by using SSAB Zero™ steel when manufacturing tipper bodies. SSAB Zero™ is made of recycled steel and produced with fossil-free electricity and biogas – resulting in steels with virtually no fossil carbon emissions.

“We see SSAB Zero as the future. This has got to be the way forward for everybody, as the planet cannot continue to sustain the impacts we are putting on it,” says Neil Griffin.

About Thompsons Group

  • English manufacturer of tipper bodies based in Croydon, London. Factories in Croydon, Dover, Blackburn and Edinburgh in Scotland.
  • A family-run company with approximately 250 employees, founded in 1971.



SSAB steel usage


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