The classic in agriculture

Reading time: approx. five minutes
Text: Juliane Gringer
Photos: Conow

The HW80, a particularly flexible 2-way tipper trailer, has been used for decades: its simply yet ingenious construction has proven so successful that it has only experienced very few updates since its development in the 1970s – one of which are the BPW axles.

Heaps of earth in a field, large holes, hills and overhangs: no problem for the 2-way HW80 tipper trailer. It drives along its paths reliably and has been used by farmers to transport grains to yards for decades, among other things. The HW80 recipe for success is based on its highly-agile chassis and flexible leaf springs, which it uses to safely manoeuvre its rigid superstructure across almost any terrain. “The trailer has an unbelievably flexible frame and moves along powerfully, making it particularly good on slopes,” explains Martin Hüttenrauch, CEO of Conow Anhängerbau. The company in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania produces the HW80 today. Its multifaceted uses have made it a true evergreen: the HW80 is the #onetoolforall solution among agricultural trailers – and Conow Anhängerbau also uses this hash tag to promote it on its social media channels.

Business relations as far as Ethiopia

The model originates from Werder in Saxony, where engineers at “Ernst Grube” VEB Kraftfahrzeugbau developed it during the GDR period in the 1970s. Ernst Grube produced the HW80 for the entire GDR and exported it to Poland, Hungary, Romania and even as far as Ethiopia – and Conow maintains business relations with the east-African country to this day. When Ernst Grube closed its factory after reunification, the owners of the newly founded Conow company travelled there to secure the information with which the trailers could continue to be built and thereby saved them from ‘dying out’. The vehicle has become a brand name for Conow Anhängerbau.

Built the same way today as 50 years ago

The HW80 so simply and ingeniously designed that it is still built in almost exactly the same way as when it was invented around 50 years ago. “The original concept has endured until today,” says Martin Hüttenrauch. “We have made a few adaptations over time, including to the braking system, in order to modernise the vehicle and satisfy changes to road traffic regulations. But basically, the HW80 is the same today as its developers original design.” What makes it so successful? According to Hüttenrauch, this is down to its flexibility with simultaneous sturdiness. What’s more: “It simply proved itself out in the fields.”

»Through the collaboration between Conow Anhängerbau and BPW, proven technology from East Germany could be successfully fused with West German know-how – a true Success Story.«

Martin Hüttenrauch, CEO of Conow Anhängerbau

BPW garners confidence with the quality and longevity of its products

Original axles from the initial period of the HW80 haven’t been installed for a long time – Conow works together with BPW. “The BPW axles were a sort of upgrade for the HW80 that provided it with even greater quality and safety,” says Hüttenrauch. “BPW was chosen because we were looking for a manufacturer who would do justice to the HW80 – and BPW has very clearly proven it can do this over the past decades, even developing a special axle for converting the HW80. Thus, proven technology from East Germany was successfully fused with West German know-how – a true Success Story.” The robustness and longevity of the BPW running gear is particularly prized for agricultural purposes. As well as the fact that the axles have such a solid construction: “Their mechanical construction is simply perfectly designed, making them ideal for agricultural use.” According to Hüttenrauch, many customers fully load the trailer, which is not legally intended. This means they are quickly overloaded: “If you are travelling through low mountain ranges, for example, an overloaded superstructure can put pressure on the sides or the front and then, 15-16 tons can sometimes shift over one axle instead of nine. We have found that BPW products can cope with that without a problem.”

»I can use the chassis for 50 years, only the superstructure wears from loading and unloading – and that can be restored, then you basically have a new vehicle.«

Martin Hüttenrauch, CEO of Conow Anhängerbau

Damages are easy to repair

The thing that has made the HW80 so popular is the fact that damages can be easily repaired. There is a clear motto for design at Conow: if something breaks, the customer must be in a position to repair it themselves. “The Conow style is: ‘Keep it simple!’,” explains Hüttenrauch. “Ideally, everything mechanical, no electrics, because that excludes sources of error in use. If others build on a sensor here and enable another request there, that’s all great. But reality shows us that sensors break. Then you can’t use the technology and you have to go to the garage.” The HW80 is simple, in no way playful, but purely designed for benefit, says Hüttenrauch.

A real win, both ecologically and economically

The trailers are also usually used for a very long time: “It’s like with a car. You change your car three times, but the trailer usually stays the same. It’s exactly the same in agriculture. That’s what makes the HW80 so unbelievably appealing: I can use the chassis for 50 years, only the superstructure wears from loading and unloading – and that can simply be restored so that I basically have a new vehicle. Its a real win for users, both economically and ecologically.” The chassis are also highly standardised with their special design: “I can send any superstructure from our production anywhere in the world and it will always fit to an existing HW80 chassis, no matter how old the individual vehicle is.” For example, in 2021 a vehicle constructed in 1973 came to the Conow garage for a full overhaul – and it was modernised there with a new superstructure.

Today, the original model has also gained a big brother: the HW180 is also equipped with BPW axles, has a usable load of around 13 tons and can be used in small stables or by industrial customers farming up to 20,000 hectares of land alike. “These large operations also buy the trailers because they cannot get this flexibility from any other manufacturer. Because the vehicles can be fully used, from the first muck spreading in February, to moving chaff and pallets, down to rapeseed in the autumn – while others can only be brought out a short time for the cereal harvest in the summer and then stand in the barn again for 49 weeks.”

»The Conow style is: ‘Keep it simple”‘. Ideally everything mechanical, no electrics, as this excludes sources of error in use.«

Martin Hüttenrauch, CEO of Conow Anhängerbau

Welding masters

The Conow Anhängerbau team includes colleagues who have worked for the company for 30 years. “We have employees who we have trained, who became master craftspeople with us and who now work in the jobs in which they are experts,” explains Hüttenrauch. “Equally, we have colleagues who have done nothing but weld chassis for three decades – and who are now masters at what they do. They have an unbelievable amount of know-how – both in their heads and their hands.” He has been on board for two years himself and has made it his task to transfer the knowledge of the individual employees from the company into a standardised knowledge repository. “We have to make it so that a trained fitter who joins our team can learn all the important things within half a year, so that he can work independently.” This also gives young colleagues the opportunity to prove themselves and gather experience – so that Conow remains future-proof in the long-term and the HW80 can continue building on its success.

CONOW ANHÄNGERBAU

Conow Anhängerbau specialises in the construction and repair of agricultural trailers. Founded in 1992, the company, with its headquarters on the Mecklenburg lake district, produces trailers such as bale transport trailers, tandem tippers and push-off or overload trailers. It is part of a holding, Conow Holding, which is active in the areas of agriculture, tourism, machine engineering and service trades. Its affiliates rear cattle, build leisure rafts to rent and operate hotels and call centres, among other things. The holding has defined its vision as retaining the originality of nature around Conow, “protecting nature from people and developing it for people in a focused way”. According to Martin Hüttenrauch, the agricultural experience in the holding is precisely what helps his team to test new developments and with them, ideas, over and over again in practice. Conow Anhängerbau has around 65 employees and has currently been handed down to the second generation. It had a turnover of around 6.3 million euros in 2020, 8.4 million in 2021 – and is expecting 9 to 9.5 million in 2022.

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