Belgian company Stokota is currently supplying the Ministry of Defence with the latest aircraft refuellers built on a Volvo chassis as well as five trailers. The Belgian tanker specialist is ready to claim an important position in this growing international market.
Imagine receiving as many competitors as visitors at a trade show! That does not mean there were so few visitors to the Stokota booth at the biennial Inter Airport trade show in Munich – just the opposite. But a surpisingly large number of rivals came to the booth and were amazed at the results achieved from years of quiet work done in the background.
Stokota (based in Lokeren, Belgium) develops and produces tankers, vacuum trucks, aircraft refuellers and trailers, and special vehicles such as moving-floor trailers.
It is now fully engaged in the market for aircraft refuellers and hydrant dispensers.
“In contrast with the stable or shrinking market for heating oil, there are rising numbers of flights. Aircraft are all powered by jet fuel”, says CEO Ronald Lefebvre, explaining the decision to move into this market. “This could boost Stokota’s short-term revenues by 33%.”
Jet fuel for F16 and C130 aircraft
The Ministry of Defence is its first major customer. In 2013, Defence went looking for 25 aircraft refuellers and five trailers for refuelling the C130, Alpha Jet, F16 and other aircraft and helicopters. Stokota won the €5.6 million contract.
Their designs are highly integrated technically, technologically and in terms of safety – and they can be produced at competitive prices.
R&D in Belgium
Research & Devlopment is also critical to the company’s new Aviation Fuelling Vehicles division in Belgium. Production takes place in Poland. This winning combination ensures superb designs that can be produced cost-effectively.
“Technologically, we’ve taken a major step forward”, says designer and business unit manager Rein Van Den Eeckhout. “Nearly everything happens automatically, apart from connecting hoses and earthing airplanes and helicopters. Sensors detect problems and issue a warning if something goes wrong or if, say, a vent has not been properly closed. All possible safety systems are built in to it and the operator needs to do as little as possible. It’s user-friengly, ergonomic and safety.”
Annual growth exceeding 10%
Every year, Stokota builds 400 to 480 tanks, with increasing levels of automation. Accordingly, in 2014 it made investments in a 36-metre-long robot welding faciliity.
For each customer the vehicles’ modular construction means that options/features can be modified as required. This enables Stokota to provide customised solutions that are also standardised and affordable.
Stokota employs 350 people: 45 in Belgium, 25 in France and 280 in Poland. They generated revenues of €35 million in 2015, with growth of more than 10% the last two years. This trend looks set to continue in the years ahead.