The Australian PTO people celebrate 65 years on top

Having started in 1959 with a range of PTOs and pumps, Hydreco has grown its offering and moved with the times. Its product range has grown and its products have evolved, but what hasn’t changed is the company’s commitment to the Australian transport market.

Originally called Powauto, the company was set up to produce PTOs and pumps for the truck market from a facility in Gladesville, Sydney.

Through various acquisitions, Hydreco has been known by various names over the years, though it’s always stayed true to its origins.

“With our 65-year history, we’re known in the industry as the Australian PTO people,” said Geoff Ross, product manager at Hydreco. “When people in Australia think of PTOs and pumps, they think of Powauto. We’ve developed a strong reputation that we want to maintain and build upon.”

Though manufacturing was moved off-shore in 1997, all of the engineering continues to be done right here in Australia. “This means our products are better suited to operators here, because they’ve been engineered to Australian conditions,” said Geoff.

“It means we can respond more quickly to customer requirements. We know our market and we know what’s feasible. We can do things on an Australian scale rather than a worldwide scale.”

An early PTO paint booth. Image: Hydreco

Access to better materials and changes in manufacturing processes have had an impact too – leading to better gear quality, seal improvements, and pumps with higher efficiencies and pressure capabilities.

Demand for quieter operation has seen further innovation. Hydreco was the first in the market to introduce an all helical geared hotshift PTO, which are designed to reduce the amount of fluid borne noise generated by the PTO and then transmitted into the hydraulic system.

PTOs have undoubtedly come a long way in 65 years. Once operated by a manual cable, then onto being operated by the truck’s air system, through to the electro pneumatic and radio remote options seen today.

“A PTO is no longer a simple mechanical device, it needs to be integrated with the truck’s electronics as well,” said Geoff.

An expanding range has also been driven by a change in the trucks on Australian roads. Back when the company was started, PTOs were built to an American standard as the majority of trucks in Australia were based on American designs. Early on, Hydreco was making a limited number of PTOs. To suit the varying transmissions, different spacer plates were used to adapt the product to the truck.

Full fit-outs are available from the Hydreco workshop. Image: Hydreco

In time, as scale increased, Hydreco was able to diversify its product offering. “From a limited range of PTOs with adaptor plates, Hydreco began making individual PTOs to suit the different transmissions,” explained Geoff.

“Now, with the influx of European trucks on our roads. The majority of European trucks use rear of countershaft (ROC) PTOs. This has enabled us to revisit the past, we’ve gone back to that earlier model, where we can have a smaller number of PTOs for these trucks, with adaptors to suit the different transmissions.”

While PTOs and pumps are still the company’s mainstay, its offering extends much further.

In the early 1960s, Hydreco began offering tipping valves. “The main business in Australia has traditionally been tipping systems, so the acquisition of LM Hydraulics in 1985 extended our range to include telescopic cylinders. Then in 1986, the company bought out Thomas Winch to provide hydraulic winches for things like 4WDs and tow trucks,” said Geoff.

“From there, it’s been incremental, adding different products and aligning with other quality manufacturers to fill gaps in our range. Things like sourcing hydraulic tanks, sourcing other mobile hydraulic valves, etc. We always make sure we’re aligning ourselves with other quality companies with good reputations.”

Moving its manufacturing offshore was perhaps the biggest change in Hydreco’s history, followed three years after by a change in the way its products were sent to market.

It’s commitment to the local transport industry has seen Hydreco become known as “the Australian PTO people”. Image: Hydreco

“Prior to 2000 we had our own branches in each state, while also dealing with other companies too. But in 2000, we moved toward a distributor model. We’ve now had many of the same distributors for close to 25 years. That’s helped us to ensure consistency of supply to the end market through our network of known and established suppliers,” Geoff added. “And that’s been a successful model for us.”

A company steeped in history, Hydreco’s products have proven they can stand the test of time. As Geoff revealed, “We’ve still got very reliable products. Every week I’ll get enquiries or people sending photos of a PTO – and the PTO looks 40 to 50 years old and it’s still working!”

Another constant has been its loyal employees, who’ve helped to drive the business forward, with numerous members of staff with the business for over 30 years. A few people also recently retired, with more than 50 years of service under their belt.

Geoff concluded: “We consider ourselves a global hydraulic and PTO player, we sell into and are represented on every continent in the world.”

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